Bills coach explains Pettine hire

INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the new sub-plots in the AFC East is Rex Ryan vs. former protege Mike Pettine, the Bills' new defensive coordinator.

The Ryan-Pettine partnership went splitsville after 11 years together (Ravens and Jets), with Pettine landing in Buffalo under new coach Doug Marrone. It was a surprise marriage, considering they never had worked together, but Marrone provided some insight Friday at the scouting combine.

Foremost, Marrone cited the complexity of the Pettine/Ryan defensive scheme, saying it always caused problems for him as an offensive coach in his previous NFL jobs with the Saints and Jets. Marrone also got a chance to watch Pettine up-close during the Jets' training camps in Cortland, N.Y., only 30 minutes from Marrone's previous job in Syracuse. Marrone has observed a couple of practices over the years.

Marrone also went back, back, back into Pettine's past. Marrone's former Syracuse teammate, QB Todd Norley, played for Pettine's father, a legendary high-school coach in Pennsylvania.

"That's how far back this all goes," Marrone said.

Now the Bills have intimate knowledge of the Jets' defensive playbook. Yeah, that, too, factored into the decision.

"As far as being in the division and knowing our opponents, I think that's a bonus to (hiring Pettine)," Marrone said.

Ryan didn't want to see Pettine land a job in the division, but Pettine was a free agent after turning down an extension from the Jets.

"They have a lot of outstanding players in the building already, so I think that’s the main thing," Ryan said. "Then, obviously, with Mike going over there to put in this style of defense, I think will be interesting. I think it’s going to help them."