New Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone didn't waste any time in finding his new offensive and defensive coordinators. The Bills held the press conference introducing Marrone on Monday, and by early Wednesday morning, news items are flashing across the Internet that both coordinator jobs have already been filled.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan said his defensive coordinator Mike Pettine would not be back with his club and would be interviewing Tuesday for Buffalo’s defensive coordinator post. According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, a day later Pettine has been hired by the Bills for that very position.
As expected, the Bills have hired Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator. Pettine had been with Jets previous four seasons. — Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 9, 2013
Pettine’s defenses have ranked in the top 10 in each of his four seasons with the Jets. At his season wrap up press conference Rex Ryan said he wished Pettine well.
Under Pettine, the Jets have employed a 3-4 defensive scheme, so it will be interesting to see if Pettine decides to stay with what he knows best (the 3-4), or to stay with the 4-3 look the Bills employed in 2012. The Bills have been rotating with the 3-4 under George Edwards, and then back to the 4-3 with Dave Wannstedt. In the process, players were shipped out that were deemed not to a good fit. So you have to wonder which veterans will not be brought back if the 3-4 is implemented for 2013.
Pettine has been working with Ryan for the last 10 years. They worked together on the Baltimore Ravens from 2002-08. Pettine wore different hats there, including defensive line assistant coach and outside linebackers coach. When Ryan left for the Jets, he made Pettine his defensive coordinator.
As for the offensive side of the ball, Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News is reporting that Marrone opted to bring along his offensive coordinator from Syracuse, Nate Hackett. Hackett was with the Bills once before, when he was the offensive quality control coach under Dick Jauron in 2008 and 2009.
Hackett doesn't have any experience calling plays at the NFL level. He was calling plays at Syracuse, so in essence he will be learning about calling plays against NFL defenses on the job.
During the 2012 season, Syracuse scored 370 points under Hackett for an average of 28.4 points per game. Syracuse had a 1,000-plus-yard running back in Jerome Smith, a 1,000-yard-plus wide receiver in Alec Lemon and a 3,000-plus-yard quarterback in Ryan Nassib. Sounds kind of like Stevie Johnson, C.J. Spiller and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Syracuse scored 31, 38, 38 and 45 points in their final four games. During the season, Syracuse had two opportunities to go up against teams that were ranked in the top 10 at the time. Against No. 2 USC, Syracuse scored 29 points. Later in the season, against No. 9 Louisville, the Orange scored 45 points.
According to Gaughan's story, Hackett progressed up the ladder at Syracuse. Gaughan wrote:
He blossomed under increased responsibility given to him by Marrone the last three years in Syracuse. Hackett is given credit for helping Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib progress into one of the top college quarterbacks in the country.
Hackett served as quarterbacks, passing game and tight ends coach for Marrone in 2010. He was offensive coordinator each of the last two seasons.
He’s the son of former University of Pittsburgh and Southern California head coach Paul Hackett, a disciple of the West Coast offense.
While Marrone was the subject of a very intensive search process conducted by president and CEO Russ Brandon and GM Buddy Nix, the search for the coordinators was very quick and to the point. We don't know yet how many other candidates Marrone talked to for both jobs, but he sure didn't waste much time in making a decision.
We know that Rex Ryan didn't want Pettine to take the Bills job, so Bills fans can rejoice in the fact that Ryan now will be going up against a Buffalo defense that should be better than it was last year.
With the coordinators now in place, the trio of Marrone, Hackett and Pettine can sit down with Buddy Nix and begin pouring over tape to determine which players they want to retain from the 2012 roster and which positions will require an upgrade.
There will no doubt be a press conference to announce the hires, with more details to follow about what the coordinators' initial thoughts are for how they want to improve the Bills. Stay tuned.