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Losing Mike Pettine would be a major blow for Buffalo

Advanced metrics show that the Bills were far better defensively under Mike Pettine in 2013 than most people realize.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

With news breaking Tuesday afternoon about Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine getting a second interview in Cleveland, I thought I would share some stats about the defense Mike Pettine oversaw this past year. Caution: I am a bit of an advanced stats type of guy. All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference or Football Outsiders.

In 2013, the Bills defense...

  • Tied for No. 4 in yards per offensive play allowed at 4.9 (Seattle was No. 1 at 4.4)
  • No. 4 in first downs allowed with 170 (Seattle was No. 1 with 156) despite facing the seventh-most offensive plays and an NFL-high 209 drives
  • No. 3 in net yards per pass attempt at 5.3 (Seattle was No. 1 at 4.8)
  • No. 3 in passer rating against with a 74.9 rating (Seattle was No. 1 with a 63.4 rating allowed); as a comparison, EJ Manuel had a passer rating of 77.7, and Thad Lewis was at 81.0
  • No. 2 in interceptions with 23 and interception percentage at 4.1 percent (Seattle was No. 1 with 28 and 5.3 percent, respectively)
  • No. 2 in sacks with 57 (Carolina was No. 1 with 60)
  • No. 1 in completion percentage against at 55.3 percent (Kansas City was second at 56.4 percent)
  • No. 1 in net yards allowed per drive at 25.78 (Arizona was second at 26.01)

Football Outsiders' DVOA ratings also had the Bills defense as the fourth-best in the league, and its pass defense as the second best.

Pettine's detractors will look at the running stats and points allowed. I would counter that by saying rushing stats really aren't as important as passing stats, and points allowed should be adjusted for tempo and offensive ineptitude.

In my opinion, Pettine's defense was a strength, and it would be a shame to lose him after only one year. Imagine how much better the defense could be after getting a couple years of consistency under its belt.