Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets: A Battle of Mentor vs. Protege
Mike Pettine had enough by the end of the 2012 season. In his first four years as a defensive coordinator with the New York Jets his defense had finished in the top 10 every single year including the No. 1 ranking in his first year in 2009. ’12 was the first time a Pettine-led defense didn’t finish in the top 5 in the league when they finished at No. 8, and they did that without their best player in Darrelle Revis. With such a strong resume so early in his career it makes sense if Pettine started to wonder why the same assistant coaches and retreads keep getting hired for head coaching gigs around the league and he had yet to even garner a single interview for a top job. It also makes sense if Pettine started to wonder if the reason for that was the fact that he was being overshadowed by his loud and bombastic head coach Rex Ryan.
Ryan was certainly a hell of a defensive coordinator in his time with the Baltimore Ravens and is probably still one of the best defensive minds in the game. The fact of the matter is that no one ever succeeds on their own. Pettine called the plays on defense and ran the defense in practice. For whatever reason this stellar resume of Pettine’s went unnoticed until new Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone called Pettine to join his new staff in Buffalo even though he had never worked with him. It was the opportunity that Pettine had been looking for and he jumped at the chance to become his own man with the Bills.
Pettine’s been successful early in Buffalo. He’s led an attacking defense that has put pressure on the QBs and forced bad throws. In Week 1 his defense held Tom Brady to only a 56 percent completion. In Week 2 Cam Newton looked even worse, completing 55 percent of his passes, throwing for only 229 yards and getting sacked six times. Now Pettine’s defense will face Jets rookie QB Geno Smith who has already been sacked nine times. On the other side his mentor Ryan will get to match up against the Bills rookie signal caller E.J. Manuel. It should be an interesting battle of wits between teacher and student.
In reality the winner and the loser in this match-up won’t determine much in the long run. Neither Ryan nor Pettine’s future hangs in the balance of this one game. Pride is simply on the line this Sunday. Was Ryan really the brains all along or was Pettine being held back? Are both of them very good coaches and will be successful independently? These are the questions that we might start getting answers to this Sunday in what should be a fun game in the Meadowlands.