Lang: Can Bills finally solve defensive woes?

Can new co-ordinator Mike Pettine actually fix the Buffalo Bills on the defensive end?

The Buffalo Bills have shuffled through several defensive co-ordinators the last four years.

Whether it’s been Perry Fewell, George Edwards, or Dave Wannstedt, they haven’t been able to find a stable solution.

Now, former Jets assistant Mike Pettine has been entrusted with the task of turning the Bills defence into a real competitive unit.

Under Wannstedt last season, Buffalo allowed a startling 435 points, which included six games where they allowed over 35 points.

Even worse, the Bills ended year amongst the league’s worst (31st overall) in run defence.

So shortly after new coach Doug Marrone was hired, he looked to hire one of the most well-regarded defensive coaches in the league in Pettine.

In four years running the Jets defence, his units were first, third, fifth and eight respectively.

But now comes the hard part: repeating that type of success in Buffalo.

Pettine’s diverse schemes and creatitve tactics have already caught the eye of his players.

“Working under a creative genius like (coach) Pettine,” linebacker Manny Lawson said. “I mean just the stuff he comes up with. The scheme he has for all the players. I mean we are going to have a lot of fun out here.

“He plays to everyone’s strength on defence,” said new pass rusher Jerry Hughes. “You like that in a coach who’s willing to kind of let you pin your ears back and go play football.”

Hughes was considered a colossal bust in Indianapolis after failing to make an impact with the Colts but he thinks he’s stumbled into something special with Pettine.

“We’re all young and athletic,” he said. “I think that’s a great tool to have in the NFL. To have a core as athletic as our guys are out here, it’s just going to work well for us being able to do so many things that (Pettine) asks for us.”

The problem for the long-suffering Bills is that they’ve seen this movie far too often.

New coach, new players and a new system leading up to the tired rallying cry that, “this year will be different.”

And Pettine may have the fancy schemes but he’s already run into a big problem with Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd in the midst of a contract holdout.

Without Byrd, the secondary would be a major question mark and something that the Bills can’t afford at this point.

Not only that, the $100 million man, Mario Williams, has struggled with various injuries and they do not have enough talent to succeed if Williams and Byrd aren’t on the field.

The Bills will quickly find out what kind of defence they have as they take on elite quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Cam Newton, and Joe Flacco in their first four games.

And fans in Buffalo will learn in a real hurry if this is going to be another year of the “same old Bills”.

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