Niagara Gazette — ORCHARD PARK — Emphasizing surprise and versatility, Buffalo Bills first-year defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is unveiling a new scheme designed to keep opponents guessing.
If that leads to some confusion among the Bills in identifying what position they're playing, Pettine's fine with that, too.
"'I don't know,'" he said, smiling, "is a good answer."
Pettine was referring to comments made by several veterans in sharing their first impressions of a defense geared toward creating mismatches by having players learn multiple roles. It's a distinct departure from the comparatively simple scheme they played last year under former coordinator Dave Wannstedt.
"Extremely different," defensive end Mario Williams said. "There's times, you know, I couldn't tell you what position I play exactly, because I really don't know."
Added veteran jack-of-all-trades linebacker Bryan Scott: "It's like I'm a rookie all over again. I had to go to Office Depot and get more flash cards."
Three weeks into spring minicamps, the questions become how quickly the Bills can adapt to yet another new system — their third in three years — and improve a unit that's been among the NFL's worst in yards and points allowed since 2010?
"It's all new, and I think they've done a good job of buying in," Pettine said. "We haven't given up a first down, a yard or a point. But I think we're off to a good start."
Entering his 12th NFL season, Pettine is part of the new staff assembled by rookie coach Doug Marrone, who was hired in January to replace Chan Gailey. Pettine came to Buffalo after holding the same job for the previous four seasons with the New York Jets.
In making the move upstate, Pettine gets an opportunity to come out of the shadow of longtime mentor, Jets coach Rex Ryan, who helped design the defense.