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Buffalo Bills' Mike Pettine prefers QB pressure over sacks

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The Buffalo Bills had 36 sacks in 2012; the New York Jets had 30. Will the Bills' sack total increase under first-year coordinator Mike Pettine?

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Because new Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine employs an aggressive, attack-first defense, fans have assumed that the Bills' sack totals will soar through the roof in 2013. Then again, the Bills finished with 36 sacks a year ago, while the New York Jets - Pettine's former team - had just 30.

"Sacks, to me, have always been a little bit elusive when you're a pressure defense," Pettine told BuffaloBills.com in an interview published this morning. "I think the ball tends to come out a little bit sooner. We've actually timed it, gone to the tape and timed it. We've always felt that the ball came out, on average, much quicker against us than it did against a lot of other teams just because of the perceived threat of pressure."

Pressure, Pettine says, is what helps a defense compete in the NFL, even against elite-level competition.

"To me, what's more important is how much did we affect the quarterback this game? One of the first times we ever went against New England in New York, the first game in the 2009 season, I think we pressured Tom Brady over 20 times - we physically got a hand on him, knocked him down, whatever it was - over 20 times," Pettine explained. "Never got a sack, but to me, that was a game where we felt he was constantly under pressure, and it affected him, we thought, late in the game. That's what we're more looking for - how much can we affect the quarterback?"

Only once in Pettine's four-year run as Jets defensive coordinator did his defense finish with more sacks than the 36 the Bills put up last year (the Jets had 40 in 2010). Bills fans can clearly expect an uptick in pressures per game, but our question for you is this: are you still expecting more sacks than the 36 the team had a year ago?