Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- Over the course of the past three seasons, the Buffalo Bills have had some of the worst defenses in not only the NFL in that given year, but in their franchise's history as well. A common complaint throughout that rocky tenure was an overall inability to put pressure on an opposing quarterback.
The Bills certainly hope that changes with the addition of Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator.
"We're going to play smart, we're going to be tough, we're going to be relentless, we're going to put pressure on you," Pettine said in his first address to the Buffalo media. "We're going to force quarterbacks, we're going to force offenses to make very quick decisions. We're going to take our best shot at you. We're not going to be a read and react defense. That is not in our vocabulary. I think in this league to be successful you have to be aggressive. I don't think you can be reckless, your aggression has to be calculated, but if you want to sum up what we'll be, it's going to be an attack style."
From the overall lack of blitzing in 2012, reading those words from Buffalo's new defensive coordinator has to bring a smile to the face of Bills fans. Bringing some of his staff from the New York Jets along for the ride, they're all of the same belief, too.
Take new defensive line coach Anthony Weaver for instance. Ask him just how crucial it is to put pressure on opposing teams, for instance.
"Super important," Weaver said. "You know, you've got to get after the quarterback in this league. It's a quarterback-driven league. You've gotta harass him. You might not always sack him, but you want to make sure you're hitting him."
He was told that the Bills had one of the lowest blitz percentages in the league in 2012.
"Won't be this year," Weaver said with a smile. "Won't be this year."
Head coach Doug Marrone echoed the sentiments of his two assistants in his initial address to the media on Friday.
"Having more of a background on the offensive side of the ball, from a standpoint, I think what you look for is you look for someone that has cause a lot of problems for offenses around the NFL," he said. "Someone that you don't ever want to play against. When that was going through my mind and what I was thinking and talking to people in the league, it kept coming around to one name, one name."
That one name that kept surfacing to Marrone throughout his search even before he was hired as the Bills head coach was that of Mike Pettine. The former New York Jets defensive coordinator that has spent his entire NFL coaching career with Rex Ryan -- until this upcoming season.
"Smart, tough, hard-working, passionate about the game. That’s what he is," said new linebackers coach Chuck Driesbach about Pettine. He gave Pettine his start as a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh. "That’s why he’s been so successful. That’s why I was very lucky to get him hired. I didn’t keep him very long. He took off, he knew exactly what he wanted to do and his career has just climbed since then."
A lingering question that some have is what scheme the Bills will run as their base defense? Will it be a 4-3 like in 2012, will they attempt the 3-4 once again? Pettine says they want to be undefinable.
"We are a multiple front, multiple packages, we'll be in 3-4, we'll be in 4-3, we'll be in 46, if you can draw up a front, we'll probably be in it," he said. "The cornerstone of our system is its flexibility and its multiplicity, that you can mold it to your talent, who is on the roster, what do they do well, and that's what we are going to build the system around.
"The way the league is trending, with the spread offenses, your in nickel defense, you're in sub-defense more than you are in base anyway, I think it's getting to the point where your third down defense is almost your base. We'll be as multiple in third down as we are in early downs. Offenses are too good to sit in one front and be categorized as a 3-4 or 4-3."
Marrone was succinct on what he liked about Pettine's defensive ideologies.
"It's smart, tough and it gives you a lot of problems," the head coach remarked.
Marrone even revealed publicly that as soon as he got done with his introductory press conference, he hopped on a plane to go and try to get Pettine hired to his initial staff in Buffalo. Despite not having a prior relationship, both parties heard plenty about one another from mutual friends around the league.
"I got several phone calls about Doug. We had never worked together, we had met a few times but there are a lot of mutual friends in this business and the response was overwhelming when people found out I had an opportunity to come and work with him.
"It got to the point where I was literally answering the phones and saying if you are calling me to tell me how good a guy Doug is and how great he is going to be to work for, I'd say 'I already got that, you got anything else?'"
Now that the staff has been assembled and the team has established what they want their identity to be on defense, it's on to the hard part. To turn around a defense that has been the second, third and fourth worst defense in franchise history in points allowed over the last three seasons.
"I can't really speak on what happened here, what I do know that we are going to bring is a passion. We are going to work hard and the stuff we are going to do is we're going to highlight what we do well," Pettine said "There is no substitute for putting the work in, both on the field and in the classroom. I think that's where a lot of people think there is some magic schematically, it really isn't, football is a game of a million little things, and we'll try to get as many of those things taught as we can."
Whatever ends up happening with league rankings in 2013, the one thing for sure is that fans are in line to see a much different defensive philosophy under Doug Marrone and Mike Pettine.