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Damien Woody: Mike Pettine gives Bills D serious bite

By Tim Graham

Damien Woody never played for Mike Pettine, but he knows enough about the inner workings of the New York Jets' defense to say Buffalo Bills fans should be thrilled Pettine will be their new coordinator.

"I think it's going to be a nice change for the people in Buffalo to see that type of defense," Woody said.

"That defense is going to be night and day."

New Bills coach Doug Marrone has selected Pettine to be the team's defensive coordinator. Woody, an ESPN analyst, was a Jets offensive lineman the first two years Pettine ran their defense.

Woody painted an exciting picture for Bills fans. He predicted Pettine will oversee an entertaining defense, with aggressive man-to-man coverage and creative blitz packages similar to the ones that helped the Jets rank first, third, fifth and eighth in yards allowed over the past four seasons.

Woody also claimed he might prefer Buffalo's defensive personnel over New York's right now.

"It's a great hire for Buffalo," Woody said, "because one thing he's going to do is attack the weaknesses of your team.

"First, you take away from a divisional opponent by hurting the Jets' coaching staff. Second, that Jets defense has had some success against the top dog in the division, the Patriots. They've orchestrated some defenses that have given Tom Brady problems.

"That wealth of knowledge is coming to Buffalo. He's had success within the division."

The Jets went 3-6 against the New England Patriots, including a 2010 postseason victory in Foxborough less than a month after the Patriots beat the Jets 45-3 in the regular season.

While Pettine held the title of defensive coordinator with the Jets, head coach Rex Ryan was considered the true architect. Pettine did have play-calling duties, although Ryan took over more of them this season.

"A lot of people assume that it's all Rex, and Rex is the mastermind," Woody said. "But Pettine had a lot of input. He knows that defense just as well as Rex does.

"You know Mike Pettine's going to be hungry because he wanted to get out of the shadow of Rex and prove himself. Ultimately, he wants to be a head coach. So he's going to be a highly motivated guy, a guy that's been schooled in that defense."

Pettine has worked with Ryan since leaving the staff at North Penn High near Philadelphia for an entry-level job with the Baltimore Ravens. Pettine became the Ravens' assistant D-line coach and then outside linebackers coach with Ryan the defensive coordinator.

Woody explained Ryan's defense is predicated on coverage and guessed Pettine's would follow suit.

Woody also predicted Bills free-agent safety Jairus Byrd wouldn't want to play anywhere else.

"In that defensive scheme it's about corners, safeties, cover guys," Woody said. "They like to bring rushes from everywhere. So I'm sure a play-maker like Jairus Byrd is not going anywhere.

"The secondary does a lot of disguise, a ton of disguise. They play a lot of man-to-man. ... If those guys can cover, it allows Mike Pettine to draw those exotic blitzes. That's one thing you really haven't seen from Buffalo. It hasn't been an exotic-type blitz team. That's what you're going to see out of Buffalo, but you need guys who can cover."

Woody last summer was bullish enough on the Bills' defense and the acquisitions of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to predict they'd make the playoffs. The Bills proved him wrong, but the Pettine hire has him optimistic again.

"Buffalo has some weapons," Woody said. "Buffalo has some nice pieces to make things happen. If you look at Buffalo's personnel and match it up to the Jets, I wouldn't say I would take the Jets defense over Buffalo's.

"They underachieved. There's no question about it. But I think part of that has to do with scheme and coaching. You get the right coach and put them in position, they have a real chance to jump up and be a factor."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | [email protected]


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | [email protected]


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | [email protected]

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