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Rex Ryan's top D aide ready to meet Bills, make his own way

By Tim Graham

Lame duck New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is looking forward to discussing the Buffalo Bills' vacancy, but apparently isn't going to jump into anything quickly.

Pettine2"I'm certainly looking forward to sitting down with Doug Marrone and to see if there are other opportunities out there," Pettine told Bucks County Courier Times reporter Ed Kracz on Monday night. "There's no timetable for anything."

The Jets have granted the Bills permission to interview Pettine, whose contract will expire at the end of the league year. He turned down the Jets' offer to re-sign as Rex Ryan's top defensive aide.

"It's no different than a player having the ability to go to the open market to see what other options are out there," Pettine said. "I just felt it was time to go ahead and do it."

We also know that, so far, the Bills have approached Jacksonville Jaguars assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, but Pettine's resume is more impressive.

Ryan hand-picked Pettine -- they worked together with the Baltimore Ravens -- to run the defense when Ryan became Jets head coach in 2009. The Jets ranked first, third, fifth and eighth in yards allowed over the past four seasons.

Breaking free from Ryan and the Jets' listing ship would be a wise career move for Pettine. The Jets are a mess. They recently fired General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and have notified offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and Matt Cavanaugh they won't be back.

Pettine has been attached to Ryan since leaving the high school coaching ranks for an entry-level job on the Ravens' defensive staff. For career purposes, it's time for Pettine to show he's his own man, not just a Ryan crony.

"I thought it would be good to be exposed to a different style of coaching, a different system," Pettine said. "It's like continuing education, the more things you can expose yourself too, it's beneficial.

"It's certainly not a knock on the Jets. I still haven't ruled out a return. It's just something that, when I consulted with my agent, [turning down the Jets' offer] felt like the right thing to do at that time. ... This is just the beginning of the process."

Pettine told Kacz he and Marrone have mutual associates but don't know each other well. Pettine said there are "a lot of people in the building who speak highly of Doug," who was the Jets' offensive line coach from 2002 to 2005.

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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 |

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 |

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 |