Pettine spent one season with the Bills, turning a bottom-tier defense into the NFL's 10th-ranked unit. His aggressive 3-4 defense helped Buffalo rack up a second-best 57 sacks and second-best 23 interceptions. Only a still-pourous rushing defense – Buffalo yielded 2,063 ground yards, an improvement from 2012 but fifth-worst in the league – kept Buffalo from avoiding another 10-loss season.
But his attacking style suited Browns brass well. He guided three Buffalo players – Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes – to double-digit sacks, making the Bills the only team to achieve that. Under him, the Bills also topped the league in opponent completion percentage at 55.3 percent.
Pettine thanked Bills management – in particular coach Doug Marrone and general manager Doug Whaley – for giving him a chance 12 months ago:
The 47-year-old Pettine previously helped the New York Jets finish as a top 10 defense three straight seasons. He also was an assistant with the Baltimore Ravens.
Marrone was laudatory of his former coordinator:
"I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Mike on becoming the Browns' new head coach and thank him for all of his time and efforts with our team this past season. He did an excellent job of improving our defense, and we wish him the best. We have a plan in place, and we will introduce our new defensive coordinator after our final decision has been made."
That plan could include former Bills coach Wade Phillips, who tweeted his willingness to return to Buffalo if called upon. He most recently was defensive coordinator of the Houston Texans and guided the Bills to their last playoff appearance in 1999.
"Yes, I would go back to where I have been before. I enjoyed and was treated well at all my stops. I just want to help a team win this year," he tweeted.
Pettine will bring his new team into Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2014 to play his old team. The date will be announced closer to the draft in May.
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