Niagara Gazette — What's not changed is Pettine's attacking philosophy. He's brought to Buffalo a system featuring many of the same principles as the one that led to the Jets ranking in the NFL's top 10 in fewest yards allowed in each of the past four years.
Pettine's defense is not an easy one to label.
It's a hybrid, based upon a 3-4 (three-linemen, four-linebacker) philosophy, but can easily switch to a 4-3 or 5-2 look depending on the situation.
"I think the cornerstone of this system is flexibility," Pettine said. "A big part of the NFL is identifying pre-snap in a game. We want to limit the amount of pre-snap information we're putting out to an offense. And that's why we look for guys that have that type of versatility."
That objective is a reason why the Bills acquired linebacker Jerry Hughes in a trade three weeks ago that sent linebacker Kelvin Sheppard to Indianapolis. Hughes has experience playing several positions, while Sheppard was limited to playing the middle linebacker spot.
"Multiple guys doing multiple things," defensive end Mark Anderson said. "That's what's going to create that element of surprise. Offenses aren't going to know where the blitz is coming from. It's going to be just confusion out there."
Pettine is also counting on that confusion to help hide some of his unit's deficiencies.
The Bills are very young at linebacker, and preparing to give rookie second-round draft pick, Kiko Alonso, an opportunity to start. They also have questions in the defensive backfield, especially with star safety Jairus Byrd's status uncertain while he attempts to negotiate a new contract.
"We're going to be aggressive, relentless," Pettine said. "I think you can eliminate some of the youthful mistakes by putting pressure on people."