The Bills had finally put together a quality season defensively, posting numbers that made them one of the elite pass defenses in the league and getting career years from several linemen.
And just like that, Pettine was gone.
But the Bills got it right in the wake of his departure by bringing on former Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz to be the new defensive coordinator. It was a swift, decisive hire and one with both name recognition and pedigree. Most of all: it made sense.
Granted, Schwartz did not have an ideal tenure in Detroit where he went 29-51 as head coach. But as defensive coordinator, he returns to his roots and most importantly will not be asked to be the leader of this team as that job still belongs to Doug Marrone. In Buffalo, Schwartz can just focus on being the defensive coach and not having to lead the entire team.
The hiring works out for Schwartz who gets to deal with three Pro Bowl linemen in Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus as well as exciting young linebacker Kiko Alonso and a deep secondary.
The prospect of working with those three is especially enticing to the Bills who, despite their showing against the pass last year, still struggled to stop the run, finishing 28th in run defense last season. The Lions, meanwhile, finished sixth by allowing under 100 yards per game. If Schwartz can help the Bills learn to stop the run, the defense can enter the stratosphere of the truly elite.
It’s odd seeing the Bills make a good, swift decision, but here we are. Hopefully Schwartz can pick up where Pettine left off and lead the Bills defense to a higher level.