DC Mike Pettine: "Every game has a story to it"

Posted Dec 22, 2013

Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine met with the media Sunday after the team's 19-0 win over the Dolphins and started by talking about the strong play of Nickell Robey, Leodis McKelvin and the defense topping the Bills' all-time sack record in this game.


Q: Have you enjoyed what [Nickell Robey] has been able to do. He was undrafted, is 5-foot-7. He has kind of been a little mighty mouse.

A: Anytime you can get production from somebody that went undrafted in this league when you’re essentially working of a budget with a cap, then you can get that from a guy that you spent a draft pick on. To me, that’s special. It is like found money. He is a guy that stepped in on day one, and I think we knew it right away that this kid had a chance to be special. He had everything but the height, instincts, awareness. Some guys, the ball just finds them and they make plays. He has lived up to our expectations from the beginning.

Q: Another guy I wanted to ask about was [Leodis McKelvin]. He was a guy, I’m sure you saw the film. He struggled a good deal his first few years as a corner.  What did you see in him right away. He re-signed here. Did you have anything to do with that?

A: No, that decision had been made but when we put the tape on, it was more to me a consistency thing. He showed flashes of it, so we knew he was capable of it. That’s something we always look for in players. If they can show it every once in a while, then that’s on us as coaches to get it out of them. As opposed to a guy, when you watch tape, you just never see it. So again, he is a guy that I think has quietly had a Pro Bowl year for us. He has been special and I don’t know what the passer rating has been with the ball thrown at him, but our style of defense, we don’t have a lot of rolled coverage to him. He’s not getting a lot of safety help. And even though we’ll put Jairus [Byrd] in the middle and play a lot of Cover 1 and Cover 3, it depends on the route, he’s still not getting any help. So, he’s a guy that has taken that challenge and run with it.

Q: The defense set a sack record today. Is there ever in your mind, how did they lose nine games?

A: I don’t think so. You look at each game week to week. Every game has a story to it. Again, that’ll be our lament of this year, that we ended up out of the playoffs when we felt like we were a playoff team.

Q: Is this something you’re going to build on?

A: Absolutely. And that was our challenge to the guys this week. It is always tough to stand in front of them, hey, we have nothing to play for. But that’s not the case. We’ve built a foundation from the beginning, but we wanted to finish it. We wanted to have momentum going into next year. I think the guys really took that to heart, and said, ‘Hey, listen, if this is our playoff game.’ And again, you just looked at the view from the sideline, our guys just looked a step quicker than they did.

Q: You shut them out on the scoreboard. With all the defensive statistics you put up today, is that as close to batting a thousand as a defense can get in the NFL?

A: It is up there. I haven’t had a chance to glance at the statistics and really study them, but it is close.

Q: Did the sack record mean anything to your guys?

A: Again, I think wins are the biggest thing for our guys. But when you start, it trickles down to the defensive stats versus the individual stats, that’s a prideful group. They know that they are capable of putting up some big sack numbers, but not at the expense of anything else. As long as it’s in the structure of the defense. And I mentioned this before, that Anthony Weaver and I, we joked about it, we don’t spend a lot of time in practice working on it. The majority of our time is spent on playing the run and the numbers are flipped on the field. I think we have some special guys that can rush the passer. To me, a lot of times, I feel like I want to get out of their way. Call a four-man rush, play coverage behind it and let them go.

Q: The second time you played a team the second time in the season, and completely shut them down. Is there something that you’re learning from the first time that is helping you guys prepare?

A: I think that’s a big part of the preparation is when you play an opponent for the first time, you’re kind of guessing how they’re going to attack us as opposed to we play them once, there’s the blueprint. What were they trying to do. And we want to make sure that you have addressed all those things and all the different situations that came up. How are they protecting on third and long? What is their philosophy on running the football? All the different parts of their game plan, you get a chance to sit back and dissect it. And I think the staff has done a tremendous job of being able to take that information from the first game and relate it to the players in using it to help them prepare for the second one.

Q: Blitzing from the slot, is that something you’ve done a lot this year?

A: We have, not at the frequency we did today. And again, it’s opponent specific. Some teams handle nickel pressure better than others do. We felt that it was a concept that they were struggling with and I’d of had to be forced to go away from it.

Q: Has it been a season-long thing when you went through the film?

A: We’ll always have nickel pressure up. And again I want to say we run it every game once or twice. Today was just a game where we felt, when we were working earlier in the week, and one of the coaches had made a comment to me, we’re a little heavy on nickel pressure, maybe one or two from the boundary. And it was just something we ended up not taking out because when I looked at every call individually, we liked it and again there were a couple things you usually don’t like to repeat a lot because you feel it’ll get picked up. But it was one of those things where we were like, we’re going to keep running it until it gets picked up.

Q: What have been your thoughts on Robey this year?

A: It has been a blast. He is a guy that everything is there except the height. We were shocked that he went undrafted. It was one of those things where when you look at your free agent class, we said here’s a guy that’s going to be a reliable contributor here. And I think that between Donnie Henderson and Samson Brown did a real good job early on. But here’s a kid who is very football smart, who is very well coached at SC. They played a lot of the same concepts that we’re playing here. It’s very similar to Kiko, in that it was both of them came in NFL ready based on their college programs. There are some guys that just make plays. You have some guys that have everything, but they can’t finish, they can’t make a play, whereas Robey, the ball finds him.

Q: Is there a guy you can think of that compares to Robey with how he has come in and made an impact the way he has in his first year?

A: Not in the secondary. I think that’s one of the hardest ones. I mean we had Bart Scott in Baltimore. But in the day and age of the cap, if you can find those guys, that’s found money. You can get production from a guy that you didn’t spend a draft pick on or free agency money, that’s a tremendous thing.