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On defense, Doug Marrone doesn't want to 'trash one thing and come up with another'

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Buffalo Bills want to maintain more than a semblance of former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's system rather than expect Jim Schwartz to change it again.

Capturing the actual sounds of Pettine's defense might be their best shot at accomplishing that. Most of the voices and minds behind his system moved with him to the Cleveland Browns.

At the NFL scouting combine, Bills coach Doug Marrone indicated the defense shouldn't change much more than it would've even had Pettine stayed and the Bills intend to carry over a lot of the play-calls and vernacular.

"Some things we have to do is stop the run better, which we didn't do a good job of last year. We all know that," Marrone said. "Touchdown passes, we gave up quite a few. Some of the third-and-long situations ... There was going to be change in those areas.

"So I think there will be change. We're smart. We're looking to carry over some of the same language for our players. Again, we don't want to totally trash one thing and come up with another.

"We're trying to make sure we can continue to move forward and get better in all areas and make sure it's the easiest transition for our players."

I asked Marrone how he planned to carry over Pettine's successful defensive concepts -- the Bills broke their sacks record and finished second in the NFL in interceptions -- when Pettine took assistant linebackers coach Jim O'Neil, defensive line coach Anthony Weaver and assistant Jeff Hafley. Pettine also hired linebackers coach Chuck Driesbach, whom Marrone fired before Pettine took the Browns job.

"The main thing that comes to mind is I worry probably moreso about the secondary plays," Marrone said. "We have the same secondary coach in Donnie Henderson, and that's where a lot of the adjustments are made.

"One of the things -- and you talk about common language -- you look at Donnie Henderson and you look at the career of Jim Schwartz and where they come from, they both played under [Cincinnati Bengals] coach Marvin Lewis.

"A lot of the same things that were implemented when Marvin was there, from the beginning, way back, are some of the things that carried on to the playbook."

  • ptato22

    What? Now we're going to worry about the language used to call defensive plays? I got an idea. How about we just get better? Didn't Seattle just basically keep in place their main defense and say "hey, we're better than you" and not worry so much about changing up every play? I know the Bills aren't Seattle, but I can't imagine that defense has become as complicated as offense these days. How hard is it really to know your responsibility on any given down? Let's just concentrate on the players we need to draft or get in free agency and forget about the change in defensive coaches. Anyway, their real problem was a lack of production on offense.

  • jim

    The big picture clearly illustrates that this team is going nowhere next season.

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About the reporters

Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.