By Tim Graham
Mike Pettine cannot take credit for the greatness of stars such as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Darrelle Revis or Jason Taylor.
Merely being exposed to them, however, will give Pettine substantial credibility the moment he begins coaching the Buffalo Bills' defense.
Pettine has worked with some of the greatest defenders of a generation as New York Jets coordinator the past four years and a Baltimore Ravens assistant before that.
When Pettine talks to a Bills defender, especially a youngster, imagine how quickly he'll snatch their attention when he informs them how Lewis or Revis handled their jobs on and off the field.
Some other names Pettine has been involved with: Terrell Suggs, Bart Scott, Haloti Ngata, Adalius Thomas, Samari Rolle, Chris McAlister, Kris Jenkins, David Harris and Antonio Cromartie.
That's just over the past seven years. How many players of that caliber have Bills coaches been exposed to in that timeframe? Three? Four?
"You're able to draw upon being around those guys every day," former Jets tackle Damien Woody said, "not only on game days, but in how they practice, watching how they work, how they study, the things that make them special players. Obviously, they have special abilities, but they do things over and beyond their talent.
"Coaches like Mike Pettine, who've seen the Ray Lewises, Darrelle Revises and Ed Reeds over the years, can relay that to a young player and say, 'Look, you want to be great? This is how it was done. This is how they got to that level. If you want to get there, trust me, and I can help you get there.'
"That's invaluable when you're starting out on your own."
Pettine also has been exposed to some of the great defensive minds. Rex Ryan was his coordinator with Baltimore and head coach with New York.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano also was on Baltimore's staff then. So was Atlanta Falcons coordinator Mike Nolan, University of Michigan coordinator Greg Mattison and San Francisco 49ers coordinator Vic Fangio.
"He started at the bottom," Woody said of Pettine. "He was a high school coach. When he moved on to the Ravens he was a video guy, and he just worked his way on up.
"Him and Rex are best buddies, but Mike Pettine's a smart, smart dude. He knows the defense. He's been schooled by the best."