Calling him a "tall, rangy, set-the-edge type defender," Mike Pettine made it clear that Manny Lawson was a top free agent priority for the Buffalo Bills in a Thursday interview.
WGR 550's The Howard Simon Show scored an interview with Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine on Thursday morning. Simon and Jeremy White spoke with Pettine for about eight minutes about various topics, and Pettine was very evasive and cautious about saying anything meaningful. He did, however, discuss the merits of yesterday's free agent signing, outside linebacker Manny Lawson.
"He has some explosive ability," Pettine said. "He's a tall, rangy guy, a set-the-edge type defender. Even though we're not gonna be a true 3-4 or 4-3, as far as we're doing it in our hybrid fronts and our multiple fronts that we run, we do need some bigger edge players. I think he fits that bill for us."
That one quote - "we do need some bigger edge players" - might have been the most revealing thing Pettine said in the interview, by the way. Lawson is not the heaviest dude in the world, but that additional length and range will help him make up for it. Mario Williams, meanwhile, obviously has "bigger" covered.
"I think he's a very underrated pass rusher," Pettine continued on Lawson. "He didn't get as much opportunity to do it in Cincinnati as he did in San Francisco. But he's a guy that we liked coming out years ago, and we just kind of admired the way he plays - the effort, the energy he plays with, the passion - kind of from afar. When the opportunity came up for us to evaluate the outside linebackers in free agency, he was at the top of the list."
Pettine did mention that he thought this type of player was a particular need area for his defense, even though he would not address other obvious need areas like linebacker. The fact that Pettine admitted as much is a good indication that the Bills have Lawson penciled in for a starting role on defense.
Anything from Buffalo's new coaching staff has been rare, so I encourage everyone to give the interview a listen. Football season cannot arrive soon enough.