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Mike Pettine (good read)


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This is a little long but some good info in here...

On if anything has changed since last year in preparing for the Bills…

No, they returned 10-of-11 starters. The only difference being the rookie tackle (Cordy Glenn) who did a good job in the preseason. This is an offense, they believe in what they do and they do it well. They led the AFC in rushing a year ago. They’ve had some success in the passing game as well. I think (in their) situation, they felt like they didn’t need to change much. They’re about execution, they don’t change a lot week-to-week and that’s been his (Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey) MO (since he’s been there). A lot of times it’s the same plays maybe dressed up a little bit differently but it’s all about execution and they do it well.

On how he plans on replacing Eric Smith’s role…

Typically in a situation like that, we do it by committee. A lot of the jobs closer to the ball can be handled by a linebacker, some of his deeper jobs are handled by a DB (defensive back). So we have some different groupings that I think kind of cover it all. It’s been a credit to the guys that have practiced those spots that have done a good job. We feel very confident going in that while we’ll miss him (Eric Smith) that we think that the guys replacing him will do a solid job. Again, it’s not one guy, it’s a couple of different groupings that will handle it all.

On why the defense has been so successful against Buffalo recently…

I think that the secondary matchup has been good for us. Our guys have played well in the back-end. We’ve been able to get to the quarterback and a lot of times, it’s not necessarily sacking him. They led the league last year in fewest (sacks) allowed. But I think we’ve been able to pressure (RyanFitzpatrick) and it wasn’t necessarily with having to send everyone to do it. We’ve rushed the passer well. We’ve done a good job picking and choosing when we would pressure or give the appearance of it and gotten some guys free to him and forced him in to some bad throws. I think it starts with defending the run. This is a team that as I said, they run the ball well. We’ve been able to avoid giving up the big run against them which I think helps us in the pass game.

On if Sione Po’uha can’t play on Sunday…

I think one of our strengths is the depth that we have there (on the defensive line). Between Kenrick (Ellis), I feel very confident given the camp and the offseason that he’s had, (Mike) DeVito, Marcus Dixon, (Quinton) Coples, all of those guys. This is a game where it’s more of a sub situation where we’re not necessarily going to be in base defense a lot. So I think that plays to us a little bit in that a lot of the groupings were going to have out there aren’t going to have that many defensive lineman.

On Josh Bush…

I think that’s one of his strengths is that he’s shown it’s not too big for him, on the big stage. We’re not going to put him out there and say hey you have to play a whole game. It would be a defined role. To me, that’s one of the things that we liked about him coming out was his football aptitude. He’s picked up the system very well. That’s a big part of it, is having guys out there that you trust (and) they know what to do. He’s been very un-rookie like in that way. He’s had very few mental errors.

On why Marcus Dixon was cut…

That’s not a question for me. As the cliché goes, (that’s) above my pay grade. The guys that are sitting in the room, we coach them as best that we can.

On if the defense accomplished what it wanted to this offseason…

We did. I think the big part of what we wanted to do was get the safeties acclimated. I think we’ve done a great job of that between Dennis Thurman and Jimmy O’Neil and Brian Smith. They’ve put in a lot of extra time with those guys, getting them up to speed. Especially LaRon (Landry), who was not here (he) was rehabbing offsite in the offseason. A credit to those players as well that they’ve put in the time. That to me was the biggest concern was getting those guys up to speed. We have a lot of things that have some moving parts. That being said, we’ve scaled some things back. We wanted to get some games under our belt and not throw too much at them. The problem for us is having a great crowd. It’s the crowd noise and that affects us defensively, so (in) our communication, we have fewer calls that have multiple moving parts. We didn’t want to get in the situation where things were great here and we can hear ourselves and then all of a sudden we get out there and have trouble communicating. That was the biggest part for us was getting the safeties involved and getting them up to speed. I think having the offseason was really helpful for us because I think it’s to our advantage because we have so many of our players here during the offseason whereas other teams might only have close to everybody there for the mandatory three days whereas we had virtually 100 percent attendance. We were in the high 90’s (percentage) attendance wise. That’s great for us because by the time that we get to training camp and I’m going through the installs, it’s the fourth time that they’re hearing it.

On Landry’s reputation as a box safety…

We never thought of him 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 hashmark and play number one down the boundary and there’s no issues with his range. Even in the middle of the field, the balls 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 (Bell) 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.

On if he has to push Coples’ effort more in practice…

Yes, but he’s getting better. I just think maybe in his mind, he thinks it’s good enough. That’s a common thing with rookies, their idea of what’s good enough and our idea of what’s good enough (is not the same). We just have to get their (idea of what’s good) elevated. I think the other players have been helpful too, putting the example on tape. Most guys are going to do what’s asked of them and this is one thing we are going to be sticklers on, be demanding (about). Again, he has already shown improvement since it was first brought up.

On Buffalo’s Wildcat…

I think it’s helped us because otherwise we would have had to manufacture those reps against a scout team, and you’re not always going to get the best look, whereas, a team is running it, whether it’s in training camp, or post training camp and you’re going good against good. It’s a much better look, it’s full speed. Again, having a guy here like Tim (Tebow) has been tremendous for us, just in preparation for that. Again, people said I’m not sure if Brad Smith is going to go but they’ve run different forms of it, so we’ve prepared for it for what they’ve done and anticipated the things they might do. Again, it’s me from a prep standpoint that the most beneficial thing is being able to practice it, good against good.

On self-scouting with Tony Sparano…

We’ve talked. They bring their material with them, probably more. I spent some time with Tony (Sparano) Jr., just talking about what are some of the things he had, as far as building a book on our defense. We’ve shared some information back and forth. There were games where they had more success against us, and vice versa, so it was good. It was more so in the spring, but we had some good opportunities to share some info.

On the matchup between Stevie Johnson and Darrelle Revis…

I mean, we all know how competitive he is (Darrelle), so I think we’d all be hitting ourselves if we didn’t think that he’s heard that. I’m not going to speak for exactly what’s going through his mind. I just know how extremely competitive he is. That’s what makes him great, is how that level of competitiveness, it shows even in practice. Our game plan is pretty normal as far as there’s going to be some calls he’s matching on, some calls he’s not. I know that’s a vague answer, but it’s really going to depend on the call. It depends on them as far as where they line him up.

On scaling back the defense because of new faces…

Yeah, to me, it’s not just LaRon (Landry), it’s also Yeremiah (Bell) and (Quinton) Coples. We do have some new faces. Again, Buffalo is a team where they’re only in a handful of personnel groupings, so we were able to scale it back from a plan standpoint. The focus is more on the stuff defending the spread, then our base defense. The nice thing about our base defense is we’re just coming out of training camp where we had multiple practices going against a two-back offense, going against two tight ends, which Buffalo does not do a lot of. If it turns into a game where we’re getting a lot of that, we’re fresh off of preparing for that. I don’t think a lot of the calls that we didn’t have up, necessarily for this plan, are easily resurrected. That’s the nice part about coming out of camp because your first couple of games, you’re always going to have access to an inventory of calls. It’s probably a little more than what you actually put in the book.

On the play calling between he and Coach Ryan…

It is really not going to be that different than what we have done in the past. We use the word collaboration and that is the way we do it. There are some opponents I have a better feel for that I will do the bulk of it and vice versa. Sometimes it is during a game, we will switch it in game, but again we will always talk and have a plan for it and I think that is the strength of what we do is that we have the ability to bounce calls off of each other. When the offense is up, we almost have a game plan meeting over the headset, ‘what are we thinking about the next third down. Do you like this? Here is what I like.’ We bounce it back and forth and I think it has worked for us. It worked for us before and again with Rex this year, people have used the phrase more of an active role, his active role to me has been more across the team. He has always been very involved defensively, but he has been in with the offensive meetings and more involved in the special teams stuff. I don’t think there is anyone more excited about the season starting than Rex. He did what he said he was going to do and has really immersed himself back in it.

On if Coach Ryan will do more play calling this season…

I think that is a little overblown. It is basically what it has been and again, it will all depend on the opponent. Sometimes it is in game, sometimes I take first and second down, he will take third down or vice versa or, ‘hey, it is a two minute, you take it.’ We are ego free when it comes to that. To me, a lot of times and I explained this before, the calls are already predetermined in a lot of situations. The ball is on this hash mark, in this area of the field with this personnel grouping, this down and distance, we have already met and agreed on what it would be so it is basically a matter of who is reading it off the sheet. The game plan, especially if a team is sticking to tendency, is almost on autopilot at times. Third downs we will sometimes script out how we are going to call them but again there are a lot of different combinations on how we do it. Again it is something we didn’t feel was broken so there was really no need to fix it.

On how much Bart Scott will be used…

A good amount. We are all about earning playing time and guys that are playing well are going to be out there. We are always in the mode of best 11. Sometimes hard decisions have to be made when guys are not playing well, but I think that is what happened at the end of last year, not to continually revisit that. I know Bart probably doesn’t want to bring it up either. You get in a situation where you are not playing well, the tough decisions have to be made of this particular game or this particular match up, it is hard to justify having somebody out there who is not playing at a peak level. I anticipate Bart being out there a lot. Again, given the time of year and playing up tempo offenses and things like that, I don’t know if anyone is going to play a full game, other than the corners. Even the safeties you are going to try and roll them some. Again, from a conditioning standpoint, the heat, you could see it last night, both of those teams you could tell got a little heavy legged in the fourth quarter, that is key for us is the ability to roll guys through, defensive line, linebackers, whatever it is. Bart is a big part of what we do, he is the emotional leader of the defense. We are going to have him out there a lot.

On if the Bills having both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson on the field at the same time makes it difficult…

It does, because Spiller is one of the few players in the NFL that has legitimate wideout skills, but also has legitimate running back skills. That makes it very difficult when he is in the back field. You want to treat them like a back and when he’s out of the back you want to treat him like a wide receiver. That sometimes makes for a tough matchup, because when he is in the back field you want a linebacker on him. When he’s out of the back field, you want a defensive back on him. You don’t want the reverse to be true. We’ve spent a decent amount of time and energy planning for that. They showed it a year ago. They’ve also showed it again this preseason having them both out there together, and that’s certainly to their advantage.

On if they have confidence in Demario Davis…

We do. Again, he had been set back at the beginning of camp, and I think he’s been playing catch up ever since. I think he’s responded well and I think in a very limited role he can be very effective for us.

On leadership within the defense…

Yeah, but I think it’s really on all four that are back there, even five, when Kyle (Wilson) is back there. I think what’s helpful now is that the corners know the system so well, and they know that they’re in there with new safeties. A lot of the times, the corners would have looked back at Eric (Smith) or Jim (Leonhard) and waited for the call to be given to them, ‘Hey how are we playing this?’ whereas now, they can give it. Again, I think they’ve all bought in and I feel like there’s ownership, like ‘Hey listen, I’ve got two guys that are first year in it, let’s help them along.’ (It’s the) same thing going on up front, or even with the linebackers, where they know what it should be. These guys realize this check needs to be made quick, so if I know it, I’m going to make it. We didn’t load everything on them and say ‘Hey listen, you’re two new guys, we’re waiting for you to tell us what to do.’ They both picked it up. It’s one where I think guys did a better job knowing we were going to have two new safeties, kind of learning a whole new defense, so everyone was kind of on the same page.

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On how he plans on replacing Eric Smith’s role…

Typically in a situation like that, we do it by committee. A lot of the jobs closer to the ball can be handled by a linebacker, some of his deeper jobs are handled by a DB (defensive back). So we have some different groupings that I think kind of cover it all. It’s been a credit to the guys that have practiced those spots that have done a good job. We feel very confident going in that while we’ll miss him (Eric Smith) that we think that the guys replacing him will do a solid job. Again, it’s not one guy, it’s a couple of different groupings that will handle it all.

My God, sounds to me like Eric Smith is completely irreplaceable. How will Landry, Bell and Bush EVER figure out how to fall down in coverage time and time again?

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I'm SO excited to see this defensive unit in action. Rex may have been partially incorrect to say this is his most talented team overall, but had he said it about the defense alone, he'd be 100 % correct. I'll be disappointed if we aren't the # 1 defense at the end of the season.

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It's shocking to read that, while the offense is on the field, the head coach is concentrating on discussing the defensive gameplan with his coordinator.

Yeah, worst fears of those who think Rex is a glorified DC realized.

When the offense is up, we almost have a game plan meeting over the headset, ‘what are we thinking about the next third down. Do you like this? Here is what I like.’ We bounce it back and forth and I think it has worked for us. It worked for us before and again with Rex this year, people have used the phrase more of an active role, his active role to me has been more across the team. He has always been very involved defensively, but he has been in with the offensive meetings and more involved in the special teams stuff. I don’t think there is anyone more excited about the season starting than Rex. He did what he said he was going to do and has really immersed himself back in it.

The line is bold reads like he caught what he just said a little late. Rex really needs to coach the whole team.

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Yeah, worst fears of those who think Rex is a glorified DC realized.

The line is bold reads like he caught what he just said a little late. Rex really needs to coach the whole team.

I didn't take that from it. I took it to mean that Rex was always ultra involved in the defense and now he is more involved with the O and specials. Rex used to call the D and then handed over to Pettine. Part of his being "more involved" was makind defensive calls again. I understand that is what we thought all along, but in this context we are dealing with Pettine who is constantly asking questions about being a puppet like the OC in New Orleans. Pettine has to be careful not to take full credit for everything on D.

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On how he plans on replacing Eric Smith’s role…

Typically in a situation like that, we do it by committee. A lot of the jobs closer to the ball can be handled by a linebacker, some of his deeper jobs are handled by a DB (defensive back). So we have some different groupings that I think kind of cover it all. It’s been a credit to the guys that have practiced those spots that have done a good job. We feel very confident going in that while we’ll miss him (Eric Smith) that we think that the guys replacing him will do a solid job. Again, it’s not one guy, it’s a couple of different groupings that will handle it all.

Sounds like some of the same things we heard about Leonard. Is this role jinxed?

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My God, sounds to me like Eric Smith is completely irreplaceable. How will Landry, Bell and Bush EVER figure out how to fall down in coverage time and time again?

LOL!!!!!!!!!

Coach, Eric Smith won't be out there. How will you make sure the tight end is left wide open consistently?

:)

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