NEW ORLEANS – The Buffalo Bills put on a full-court press when they pursued new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
Not only did head coach Doug Marrone visit Pettine, but he was joined by Bills President Russ Brandon, General Manager Buddy Nix and Assistant General Manager Doug Whaley.
“When we got off the podium at the press conference introducing Doug Marrone, we hopped right on a plane right from the podium and went off to Morristown, N.J., and really went after Mike Pettine,” said Brandon Friday.
Pettine was hired by the Bills on Jan. 9. He served the past four years as defensive coordinator for the New York Jets and previously served as an aide for the Baltimore Ravens for seven years. The group effort was in part intended to show Pettine how seriously the Bills wanted him.
“The coaching staff is the responsibility of Doug,” Brandon said of the head coach. “But we all went down there – Buddy, myself, Doug Whaley and Doug Marrone. ... It was organizational support. We wanted to make it clear to Doug [Marrone] that we are all-in in this process.”
Brandon on Pettine: “I love how aggressive he is, how he attacks. He’s very bright. His pedigree is pretty damn good, when you look at where he was – in Baltimore and New York. His dad’s a legendary [high school] coach. ... Everything you hear about him on the outside is A-plus.”
Not surprisingly, Brandon is happy with Marrone’s assistants.
“I think he’s done a nice job of bringing in young, energetic, good football coaches with some veteran presence,” Brandon said. “I’m excited about this staff. They seem like real grinders. Good, smart, technical football coaches.”
Brandon attended the Senior Bowl college all-star game last week. He characterized his role in the football department, in essence, as being an overseer. While he keeps informed on all football developments, he said it’s not his role or his desire to do the general manager’s job.
“I will provide leadership to the organization within every element of our operation,” Brandon said. “But no different than when you hire a director of ticket operations to run the ticket department, you hire football people to run the football department. When it comes to those decisions, Buddy will make the final decision on how we move forward in the draft, in free agency. We’ll obviously work together in all that with coach Marrone.”
Marrone and his staff are evaluating the Bills’ roster.
Brandon said there have been no developments in contract talks with the team’s top two impending free agents – safety Jairus Byrd and guard Andy Levitre.
“The timeline is we need to sit down as a group personnel-wise and put our game plan together on how we’re going to approach things,” Brandon said. “As far as talks are concerned, there’s nothing at this point that’s concrete. We would love to have both guys back.”