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What Mike Pettine thinks of LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Eric Smith

By Tim Graham

Until their contracts expire or they're released, Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is forbidden from speaking about New York Jets safeties LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell or Eric Smith.

As defensive coordinator of the Jets a few weeks ago, however, he could blab, blab, blab all he wanted.

I reviewed Pettine's 2012 news conferences to search for comments about his former safeties a day after the Bills released captain George Wilson.

Pettine on his safety trio (Sept. 13, 2012):

"We love Eric Smith at 300 or 400 snaps, but not a guy that -- given his role on special teams -- is a full-time guy. That just doesn't make a lot of sense. So we wanted to find guys that were starting-caliber guys and that have the attributes that we found in both those guys with Yeremiah and LaRon.

"They're both savvy players, have some man-cover skills. ... They're both very versatile. They can play in the post. They play the deep half. They can come down and cover man. They can be involved in the run game.

"Then there's the toughness aspect that we always pride ourselves, and that's the style of defense we're going to play. We're not going to make it easy for a receiver to want to come over the middle, and certainly both of them -- LaRon, especially -- has provided that element."

Pettine on Landry and Bell (Sept. 6, 2012):

"We never thought of [Landry] as a box safety. Here's a guy who ran sub-4.4 [40-yard dash time] coming out, has great range. To me, he's a complete safety because he's an excellent blitzer, his man-coverage skills are solid -- that was one of the things that we studied when we looked at him on tape -- and he played a lot where he was in a two-shell and had to come off the landmark on the hash mark and play No. 1 down the boundary, and there's no issues with his range.

"Even in the middle of the field, the ball's thrown, he's breaking on the throw, and he's standing on the boundary. His closing speed to me has been what's impressive.

"We never thought of him as a box guy, and Yeremiah’s the same way. I think Yeremiah's a complete player as well. He can blitz. He can cover. I've been asked that question before: 'Why do you guys have three box safeties?' We never for a second thought of it that way."

Pettine on Landry's physical play (Sept. 20, 2012):

"The thing with Landry is this is a physical football player, as we know. There's nothing he does when he hits a guy that is illegal. He lowers his target. He does everything the way you want. He's not out there to injure, but he's going to hit you."

"I love the fact he has a reputation as a huge hitter because he's clean. There isn't anybody saying he's not a clean player. He's a clean player. He's a hitter. Yeremiah Bell is a hitter. They're going to do it within the rules."

Pettine on whom he would compare Landry to when it comes to aggressiveness (Sept. 13, 2012):

"Ed Reed was very aggressive. He didn't hit as hard. Ed'll hit you, but Ed was a guy that when he diagnosed a play he would go and get it. And certainly [Troy] Polamalu I would say is very similar. They key fast, and when they see it, we use the phrase 'Shoot your gun.' They don't hesitate."

Pettine on Bell (May 29, 2012):

"He's no-nonsense, and he's a leader. If a guy's straying off the path that he should be on, you can tell he's not going to be afraid to point it out."


2013 free agency | Eric Smith | George Wilson | LaRon Landry | Mike Pettine | Yeremiah Bell
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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 |