Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine both said Thursday they aim to have a hybrid defense that can use a three-man and a four-man front.
The Bills officially announced the hiring of both Pettine and new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Pettine, 46, served as defensive coordinator of the New York Jets the past four years. Hackett, 33, was Marrone’s offensive coordinator at Syracuse the past two years.
In a release from the team, Pettine addressed the question of a 3-4 vs. 4-3 defense.
“The answer is really yes to both,” Pettine said. “We’ll be a multiple front, multiple coverage defense. The trademark of our defense is we’re going to be smart, tough and relentless. How we configure it is more player-driven. I’ve always believed that you don’t fit your players to your scheme, but you fit your scheme to your players.”
“What I see here is a group of explosive athletes and playmakers and we’re going to put them in a position to do just that,” Pettine said. “We’re going to be in the configuration that gives us the best opportunity to win football games.”
Pettine has coached 11 seasons in the NFL, and the 3-4 was the base defense for his teams each of those seasons.
“The personnel we acquire through free agency and the draft will not be locked into a defense that plays one particular front or one particular coverage,” Marrone said in the release. “We want defensive players who are tough and get after it, and, at the same time, play smart football.”
The Jets’ defense ranked among the top eight in the NFL in yards allowed each of his four seasons. New York had 115 takeaways in Pettine’s four years, the second most in the AFC and seventh most in the league.
“His defenses are known for their relentless attacking style,” Marrone said. “They can be very difficult for offenses and create all kinds of mismatches. When I accepted the job, that’s exactly how I envisioned our defense, and so Mike was the coach I felt was best suited to lead our defense.”
Neither Marrone nor Hackett offered specifics on what they want to do on offense.
“I have worked closely with Nathaniel the past three years and the first thing that jumps out at you is his boundless enthusiasm,” Marrone said. “He has a genuine love and excitement for the game of football, offenses in particular, and that transcends into everything he does.”
Hackett currently would be the third youngest offensive coordinator in the league. Numerous teams still have to fill out their staffs. Hackett’s father, Paul, formerly was a college head coach at Pitt and USC.
“He has a great knowledge of offenses for someone his age,” Marrone said. “Having grown up as the son of a coach, particularly the son of a good coach, has certainly served him well. He’s been surrounded by offensive-thinking football all his life and he’s absorbed it. It’s in his DNA. Finally, you hear coaches speak of “everyone being on the same page?” Well Nathaniel is on the same page with me when it comes to the offense, and it’s multiple variations, that we are looking to run here in Buffalo.”
Meanwhile, Marrone has told the members of Chan Gailey’s staff they will not be hired for his staff, according to a team source. Gailey’s assistants all had been relieved of their duties at the same time Gailey was fired.