What Mike Pettine Will Bring To The Bills Defense

The Bills officially named former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to the same title on their own staff today.  New head coach Doug Marrone was aggressive in recruiting Pettine to leave the Jets for the Bills and Pettine will bring an aggressive defense along with him to Western New York.  Pettine spent 4 years under Rex Ryan in New York and before that worked on the staff in Baltimore.  He told the Bills media today that his defense won’t necessarily be married to one base scheme and they will move it around and disguise it as he sees fit.  As usually happens when there is a coaching staff change there will be roster changes.  Here’s a look at what you may be able to expect from Pettine’s defense in Buffalo next year:

  • Expect to see Williams with his hand down most of the time

    Expect to see Williams with his hand down most of the time

    There’s been a lot of talk about where Mario Williams will fit in to this new defense.  My guess is exactly where he did in the old one.  Expect to see Mario playing with his hand on the ground for most of his snaps.  Sure he will get up and move around once in a while but he did that last year as well (at least after his wrist was healthy).  Mario Williams will not be a stand-up 3-4 outside linebacker.  He’s just not that type of player.  He’ll do fine where he is.

  • That being said I’ve heard the rumors about Mike DeVito jumping from the Jets to the Bills but I just don’t see where he fits.  Between Mario, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, and Alex Carrington I’m not sure where DeVito gets his snaps along that defensive front.  He’s a solid player and would probably be better served somewhere where he’d get more playing time.
  • Calvin Pace, on the other hand, would be a great addition to the defense.  He is getting a bit long in the tooth but the Bills defense is filled with young, inexperienced linebackers and a guy like Pace could be valuable with his experience in Pettine’s defense.
  • Please, Mike, no Bart Scott.  Thank you.
  • Gilmore will be expected to be lockdown in Pettine's defense

    Gilmore will be expected to be lockdown in Pettine’s defense

    Stephon Gilmore better start watching some tape of Darelle Revis and the Jets defense because I think he will be thrust in that role right away in Pettine’s Buffalo D.  Despite being a rookie the #10 pick in last year’s draft was far and away the Bills’ most consistent CB last year and gained some valuable experience shadowing guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Reggie Wayne during the season.  He’ll be leaned on heavily by Pettine to lock down one side of the field for the Bills defense.

  • It may be wise for the Bills to try and re-sign Leodis McKelvin and see if Pettine can resurrect his career much the way he and Rex Ryan did for Antonio Cromartie in New York.
  • The Bills should make re-signing Jairus Byrd their #1 priority in the off-season.  Byrd has turned himself into an aggressive safety over the past 2 seasons and one would think he’d thrive in an attacking type of defense.  I’d always liked to see what kind of player Byrd would be if he blitzed more and he could get that opportunity in the new Bills D.

It should be an interesting change next season from the passive Wannstedt defense to an attacking style that Pettine prefers.  The Bills certainly have had their defensive challenges over the past 3 seasons and Pettine will have a tall task on his hands to right the ship.  He’s got the credentials to do so and Marrone is banking on him doing exactly just that.  This was Marrone’s most important hire in his first year and the spotlight will be on Pettine.  I’m guessing by the speed in which he ran out of Rex Ryan’s shadow that may be exactly what he’s looking for.

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Bills Moving Quickly To Fill Defensive Coordinator Position

Russ Brandon and company continue to be aggressive as they have already requested permission to speak with 2 current NFL defensive coordinators only hours after new head coach Doug Marrone was introduced at One Bills Drive.  Marrone said that he was looking for coordinators on both sides of the ball with a lot of pro experience.  Not only are they courting guys with experience but they are courting actual current defensive coordinators who might be looking for a change of scenery.

Jets DC Mike Pettine

Jets DC Mike Pettine

Mike Pettine, current defensive coordinator of the New York Jets, has worked on Rex Ryan’s staff since he was DC in Baltimore and has been coordinator for Ryan’s Jets since he took over in 2009.  Pettine’s defensive units finished in the top 5 in the NFL in total defense in each of his first 3 seasons in New York before falling to #8 in 2012.  Pettine uses the Marvin Lewis system that Rex Ryan brought to New York from Baltimore.  It is an attacking defense which is the type of defense that Doug Marrone prefers.  The only question is whether the Bills would permanently move back to a 3-4 base after shifting over to the 4-3 just before last season.  And if so how would Mario Williams feel about that.  Pettine turned down a contract extension with the Jets earlier this year so it’s not surprising that he might be ready to fly the coup.  Rex Ryan’s shadow is a large one to work under (no pun intended) and Pettine could get more exposure running Marrone’s defense.  Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that the Jets granted the Bills permission to speak to Pettine.

Mel Tucker, current Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator, has been in Jacksonville since 2009.  He spent the past season working under former Bills head coach Mike Mularkey.  Prior to that he worked under Jack Del Rio and was elevated to interim head coach when Del Rio was fired last November.  The Jaguars had the #4 defense in the league in 2011 but fell all the way down to #30 last season.  I’m not sure why the large drop off from ’11 to ’12 but the biggest difference was the new coach and perhaps Mularkey wanted Tucker to run a different style of defense.  What I do know is that Jack Del Rio likes to run an attacking style of defense and if Tucker brought that kind of mentality to the Bills he could be a fit.  Again Mularkey’s job is in limbo since the new Jaguars GM will ultimately decide his fate so Tucker might jump at the chance for some stability in a new Marrone regime.

The Bills said they were going to be aggressive in finding a new head coach and they were, filling the position in just a week.  They said that they were going to be aggressive in finding a defensive coordinator and there is no reason at this point to not take them at their word.  It seems like the criteria for the DC position is similar to that of the HC position.  They are looking for a young guy who has a lot of experience and a reputation for being an aggressive play-caller.

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Are The New York Jets Messing With Us?

From ESPN.com: Jets players Brawl On Sidelines

CORTLAND, N.Y. — A brawl involving about 20 players erupted on the sideline in the New York Jets‘ practice Monday, causing reporters to scatter and coming dangerously close to fans.

Rex Ryan has got to be playing some jedi mind tricks on us at this point

This has got to be a joke at this point right?  A professional sports team simply can not be this dysfunctional.  You’ve got a high-profile quarterback controversy involving two painfully mediocre quarterbacks, a coach who continues to run his mouth despite the fact that the team didn’t win anything after he ran said mouth in each of his first three seasons as head coach, you’ve got a psychotic linebacker who’s about to rip the head off of the third string quarterback who wildly criticized the team in the off-season in a blatant attempt to get let go but is still with the team for some reason.  You’ve got a wide receiver who took a similar track in the off-season and was injured in practice by the cornerback who has never played a down on offense yet said that he’s the second best wide receiver on the team.  You know the one, the guy with 8 different kids from 8 different mother?  Now they are literally endangering their fans by having a battle royal within inches of the sidelines.

I refuse to believe that a pro sports team is this messed up.  Even with this group, it is literally impossible to be this dysfunctional.  Hell, they make the 2012 Red Sox look like the 2004 Red Sox.  At least the Sox made the effort to pretend that things were going alright during spring training.  The Jets haven’t even waited until a pre-season game has been played to show how much of a mess they are.  I’m convinced at this point that they are just messing with us.  They’re going to come out looking like the ’85 Bears and start singing Kumbaya together in the locker room after the games while Rex laughs in everyone’s face.  Because a team this messed up has to be joking right?  There’s no way this is real.

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Will Peyton Manning land in the AFC East?

Peyton Manning is now a free agent and reports say that 12 teams have already made contact with him.  Miami and maybe the Jets look to be heavily involved in the recruiting process so it seems that there is at least chance that Manning lands in the AFC East.  It would be significant, not only because he would improve the Jets or the Dolphins tremendously, but also because Manning would play Tom Brady’s Patriots two times a year.  Here’s a look at the chances of Manning landing with any of the AFC East teams:

The recruiting has already started in Miami

Miami Dolphins:  Stephen Ross is ready to roll out the red carpet and whatever else he needs to lure Manning to Miami.  Miami has some good pieces in place.  Receiver Brandon Marshall can be a prime target for Manning and receiver Davone Bess catches almost everything and would quickly become one of Peyton’s favorite targets.  Reggie Bush is a threat out of the backfield.  The line as anchored by Jake Long, one of the best offensive tackles in the game.  They have a good enough defense.  Still they finished 6-10 last season and have a new coach coming in.  Ross might want Manning but perhaps new head coach Joe Philbin will want Matt Flynn, who played under him in Green Bay.  My guess is that Philbin would obviously be open to acquiring Peyton Manning for his offense but wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if the consolation prize was Flynn.  Location wise Miami is obviously an enticing destination and Manning does have a condo down on South Beach.  Stephen Ross has been trying desperately to bring a big name to Miami since he became owner but for whatever reason guys are scared off.  He missed out on Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, who leveraged the situation to secure a better job in San Fransisco.  He missed out on former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, who leveraged the situation to get himself more power at his new job in St. Louis.  Manning could leverage this situation to secure a better contract in a situation that might be a bit closer to winning, say a Kansas City or a Arizona or the next team…

Odds: 10 to 1

Ryan would love to have Peyton on his side

New York Jets: For his first two years in the league quarterback Mark Sanchez was dubbed “The Sanchise”.  The Jets made the AFC Championship game in each of his first two years.  Now after an 8-8 season they are ready to throw him into the scrap heap.  The Jets were in turmoil at the end of last season and even though Sanchez may have been the least of their worries we all know that head coach Rex Ryan loves attention and would love to bring in Peyton Manning to make fans forget about the locker room woes on 2011.  Their receiving corp has malcontent Santonio Holmes and they have Shonn Greene coming out of the backfield.  Dustin Keller is a weapon at tight end that Manning would love to utilize.  The Jets have one of the top defenses in the league.  Obviously the big story about Peyton playing for the Jets would be that he was playing in the same city as his brother.  We’ll hear the jokes about Archie and Olivia Manning’s reduced travel schedule or the Manning duplex but I think this might be more of a deterrent than an advantage.  Eli has built himself into an icon of New York City after spending much of his career in Peyton’s shadow and I’m not sure Peyton is ready to step back into his spotlight.  Also it needs to be acknowledged that the turmoil and the in-fighting in the Jets clubhouse was very real at the end of last season and Peyton would probably need assurances that it’s in the past.  The problem with that is that public enemy #1, Santonio Holmes, is virtually unmovable and Rex Ryan has too much pride to change his coaching style for one player.  Still they will go all out if they really want him and they will probably be one of the better teams to make a run at Peyton.

Odds: 20 to 1

The Bills already have a QB that's dedicated to the team

Buffalo Bills:  The Bills just signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a 6-year, $59 million extension during last season.  Fitzpatrick is no Manning but he is the most productive Bills quarterback statistically since Jim Kelly.  Also his favorite receiver, Stevie Johnson, just signed a 5-year extension himself and Fitzpatrick shaved his head into a mohawk with a #13 and the words “he’s back” shaved into the side of his head.  I don’t think he would have done that if his job was in jeopardy.  In the end, even if there was serious interest from the Bills, I don’t think they’d crack the top of the list of his preferred destinations.  They might stick their toes in the pool but I don’t see them going much further than that.

Odds: 250-1

New England Patriots:  For the past 11 seasons it’s been 1A and 1B.  They already have one, they don’t need the other.

Odds: 1,000,000 to 1

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Thoughts on Bills/Jets

Well, the whiteout didn’t produce the results that the Bills had hoped for.  The Jets took the crowd right out of the game early and they never fully recovered as the Jets were prepared for everything that the Bills threw at them.  Rex Ryan took advantage of the extra week he had to prepare for the Bills and by the time Chan Gailey found the adjusttments he needed it was too little, too late.  It’s going to be a crazy second half of the season in the AFC East, I’ll get to the Pats later, but obviously there are three teams at 5-3 halfway through the season.  It doesn’t get closer than that.  Here are some thoughts on the game.

  • I’m not sure that Donald Jones should have come off of a three week absence and thrown right into the fire across from Antonio Cromartie.  He was no match for his coverage skills and was unable to strecth the field.  You have to wonder if it would have been more wise to use CJ Spiller in that role for another week.
  • No touches on offense for Brad Smith this week.  I’m not sure that I understand that one.
  • While there were problems with the Bills offense, they didn’t come from the offensive line.  The line was exceptional again, opening big holes for Fred Jackson and keeping Ryan Fitzpatrick upright.  Fitzpatrick wasn’t sacked and generally had time to throw, he just couldn’t find anyone open.
  • You know that you’re having a great season when people see a line of 82 rushing yards and 38 receiving yards as disappointing.  Those were Fred Jackson’s numbers on Sunday.
  • I think Chan Gailey needs to work Scott Chandler more into the gameplan.  He is reliable and I can’t recall a mistake that he’s made all year in the passing game.
  • I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating – Darrelle Revis may be the best player in the NFL.  Not the best cornerback, the best player over all.  That being said Stevie Johnson found a way to beat him down the field later in the game, if only Gailey and the Bills tried to run the deep routes earlier the Bills may have had more success against Revis.
  • Defensively the Bills play wasn’t overly offensive but they caught some bad breaks (Wilson non-INT, questionable PI on McKelvin).  They didn’t give up as many yards on the ground as they did in the previous four games against the Jets but it was still too many.
  • Marcell Dareus was handled pretty well by Nick Mangold but that’s alright.  A kid like that needs growing pains and it’s always good to learn on the fly.  That being said he did show some flashes yesterday and I see a huge second half for the big rookie.
  • Chris Kelsay may be one of the more maligned members of the Bills for the past decade but the Bills defense really misses him when he’s not out there.  It will be another struggle to control the line of scrimmage next week against Dallas when he’s out again.
  • Brian Moorman had a great day punting the ball yesterday.  He’s quietly put together a great season.
  • For the first time this season Chan Gailey was severely out-coached.  It’s disappointing after what’s he’s done so far this season but it’s important to remember that Rex Ryan had two weeks to prepare.  It won’t get much easier for the re-match in three weeks when Ryan has 10 days to prepare, coming off of a Thursday nighter in Denver the week prior.  It’s what makes these next two road games so important for the Bills.

I’ll recap the Pats/Giants game later but that game compared with this one was a possible game-changer in the AFC East.  The three teams are tied at the top of the AFC East.  On the outset the Jets look to have the best opportunity to get a leg up going into the second half of the season as the only one playing at home next week.  The Bills draw the Cowboys in Dallas.  It feels like it could be the beginning of the end, or it could be another chapter in the story of the resilient Buffalo Bills of 2011.


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