COMMENTS FROM MIKE PETTINE
What attracted you to this opportunity with the Buffalo Bills?
“First and foremost was the opportunity to work with a quality coach like Doug Marrone. It was just a whirlwind for me when the opportunities came. When his name popped up people came out of the woodwork to recommend him. He’s pure football. The biggest thing for me is also to coach in an area with passionate fans. I grew up a coach’s son and in a community where it was all about football. It’s great to be somewhere where the fans are so passionate.”
Do you plan to run a 3-4 or 4-3 as your base defense?
“The answer is really yes to both. We’ll be a multiple front, multiple coverage defense. The trademark of our defense is we’re going to be smart, tough and relentless. How we configure it is more player-driven. I’ve always believed that you don’t fit your players to your scheme, but you fit your scheme to your players. What I see here is a group of explosive athletes and playmakers and we’re going to put them in a position to do just that. We’re going to be in the configuration that gives us the best opportunity to win football games.”
This defense has particularly struggled for the past two seasons, what can you do to improve the unit’s performance?
“I just know what our system is going to bring to the table. I think the fans will be excited about it because we’re going to be high energy and we are going to be an attacking style of defense. We’re going to dictate to the offense. We’re not going to sit back and let offenses dictate to us, so if you’re going beat us it’s because you’ve taken our best punch.”
The Bills face the Jets twice a year, will your knowledge of their personnel and scheme give the Bills an added advantage when facing the Jets in 2013?
“Anytime you move within a division absolutely. Everybody’s ultimate goal is to be in the playoffs, and not just the playoffs – but to win your division and have home games in the playoffs. Our focus has always been that in the offseason. Even before the schedule comes out, we know that we’ll have two games against each division opponent so we make sure we spend extra time on them.”
What role has Rex Ryan played in your development as an NFL coach? Did you hear Rex Ryan’s comments about him not wishing you the best if you went to Buffalo?
“I was actually still in my office watching the press conference on TV and knew he was going to say something like that. Rex and I are like brothers, brothers that fight a lot. I’ve been with Rex since the first day I stepped in the NFL in Baltimore in 2002. Rex and I have a very unique relationship. It’s a strong bond based on the love of the game. Our styles are very different, but we’re both sons of very successful coaches and I think that’s what drew us together right away. Learning from him helped build a foundation for me. But at the same time I was very deeply influenced by my father and other coaches that I’ve worked with. Our styles are similar from a scheme standpoint, but I think people will realize our personalities are very different. I love Rex and am so thankful for the opportunity I had there.”
Will your defense use the same terminology as the Jets?
“That is something that I will work on with the defensive staff once we have it in place.”
How much experience do you have calling defenses?
“For the past couple of years, I’ve had a great opportunity to work with Rex and call a vast majority of their defense. I also have a great deal of experience in making adjustments to the defense during the season that helped improve our unit’s performance.”
How will you use
“We’re going to take advantage of not just his, but every player on this team’s skill set and find opportunities for them to generate situations to get after the quarterback. Mario is one of the best pass rushers in football and is a special talent. This is going to be the Buffalo Bills defense. It’s going to be built along the principles of being smart, tough and relentless and we’re going to pressure you. Like I’ve said, our defense will be built around the skill set of our players. It will be tailor made to the strengths of the Buffalo Bills.”
Have you had any previous working relationship with Doug Marrone?
“I have not worked with him before, but he and I have a ton of mutual friends. I met him when Syracuse came down to the Jets’ facility to practice for the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl. Syracuse wasn’t that far from Cortland so I had some opportunities to spend some time with him.”
Talk about your path to the NFL. You started as a prominent high school coach outside Philadelphia. You moved on to become a video assistant in Baltimore and worked your way up to the NFL coaching ranks. What was that process like?
“It certainly wasn’t the traditional path to the NFL. I kept in touch with Matt Cavanaugh who was a coach at Pittsburgh when I was a Graduate Assistant. When he was with Baltimore he gave me a call about a video/I.T. job they had available at the time. I learned how to convert play diagrams from one system to another which was a transition the Ravens’ coaching staff was making which got me in the door. I was thrown with Rex right away and it was a great experience to work with that organization, learn that defense and work with the outside linebackers. It grew from there. We had a special year in 2006 on the defense. I was fortunate enough when Rex was named the Jets coach in 2009 and it was a seamless thing for me join him as a coordinator. I look back on it and say ‘the planets were lined up.’”
What are your thoughts about analytics? How do you use numbers to help you as a play-caller, talent evaluator and teacher?
“As a play-caller, you’re looking at tendencies. There are a lot of things and it’s a big part of what we do. I think the game analysis is real big on getting them out in different situations. We’ll break down first downs into first downs in a series, earned first downs across the 50, in the red zone, etc. We use that stuff extensively to help with the gut feeling of whether it’ll be a run or pass. As far as evaluating personnel, I look at the measurables from a standpoint of is this guy big and fast enough to play in the NFL. But there will be exceptions to that.”