With a defense that finished in the bottom half of the league last season (22nd), it’s no wonder that the Buffalo Bills were looking to make a change this time around. The first step the Bills took was hiring a new defensive coordinator to replace Dave Wannstedt, one of the many casualties of the Bills’ coaching turnover. The Bills chose Mike Pettine, former defensive coordinator for the New York Jets, that led the Jets defense to the top spot in the NFL in 2009. Mario Williams certainly could not say enough about Pettine’s defense:
“The biggest thing from last year to this year is there’s a lot more moving parts….It can be pretty complex and a lot to digest in a short period of time, but once you get the grasp of it, once you know, say, a third of it you can piece it together. As long as you know our key words and hand signals, even if you don’t have the best grasp on it, you can get the hang of it….I will say from going against the offense, it seems to be pretty difficult for them to pick up.”
If Williams is right, the Bills may start to disrupt offenses more consistently than they have in recent memory. However, a more complicated defense is not always a better one. Mario Williams went on to say:
“I don’t even know where I’m going to be half the time. That’s definitely new. We got guys all over the place. It’s not something simple that you can just look and say ‘When they come out like this, he’s there and there’s this.’ “
While a more complex defense can unsettle an offense and create game-changing plays, it can also become difficult to execute…leading to game-changing plays of a different kind. This was not the only unsettling part of Williams’ interview. About new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, Mario Williams said:
“He usually says ‘Kill ’em or hurt ’em.’ That’s what I always hear.”
Some NFL fans (mainly of the New Orleans Saints) will find this comment eerily similar to one made by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Obviously a statement like this is bound to get the attention of Commissioner Goodell (among other people), especially after Bounty-Gate. While violence is part of football, a fact that many people like to remind the commissioner when he comes out with a new policy to keep players safe, a philosophy like this crosses that fine line that players walk every down of every play. When players use this phrase to get pumped up that’s one thing, but it only takes one player taking the words a little too seriously to lead to dangerous and possible career-ending injuries on the field…case and point: Joe Theismann.