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Proud Pettine eager to turn Bills defense around

Proud Pettine eager to turn Bills defense around

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) New Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is still evaluating the high-priced, underachieving group he has inherited, but he saw enough from the opposing sideline last season to know ``the cupboard is not bare'' in Buffalo.

Having spent the past four seasons with the Jets, Pettine says Friday in his introductory press conference that the talent level in Buffalo was one factor in his decision to switch teams two weeks ago.

``There are some good football players here and we are excited to work with them,'' he said. ``They are explosive athletes and playmakers and we are looking forward to building a system that is going to take advantage of that.''

Pettine's challenge is to transform a defense that last season finished 22nd in yards allowed, while giving up 435 points, the second-most in team history. Buffalo went 6-10 before coach Chan Gailey was replaced by Doug Marrone.

The defensive struggles were a surprise, considering Buffalo invested consecutive top 10 picks in defensive lineman Marcell Dareus and cornerback Stephon Gilmore and signed defensive end Mario Williams to a $100 million contract in free agency.

``I can't really speak on what happened here,'' Pettine said. ``I do know that we are going to bring a passion. We are going to work hard and the stuff we are going to do is going to highlight what we do well. There is no substitute for putting the work in, both on the field and in the classroom. I think that's where a lot of people think there is some magic schematically. It really isn't. Football is a game of a million little things.

``And we'll try to get as many of those things taught as we can.''

Pettine said it's too early to declare what schematic changes he may implement. Dave Wannstedt switched the Bills to four-lineman, three-linebacker base formation last season after the team spent two years deploying - and drafting players for - a 3-4 alignment.

Under Pettine, New York's defense has not ranked lower than eighth in the NFL in yards allowed. And that includes a top ranking in 2009. The Jets were known for being a 3-4 team the past four seasons, but Pettine said that is a ``misconception.''

``The cornerstone of our system is its flexibility and its multiplicity,'' he said. ``We'll be in 3-4, we'll be in 4-3, we'll be in 46. If you can draw up a front, we'll probably be in it.''

Pettine was more forthcoming about the attacking style the Bills will play.

``We're going to play smart, we're going to be tough, we're going to be relentless,'' he said. ``We're going to put pressure on you. We're going to force quarterbacks, we're going to force offenses to make very quick decisions. We're going to take our best shot at you. We're not going to be a read-and-react defense. That is not in our vocabulary.''

Marrone has ``always been an admirer'' of Pettine's and that he boarded a flight to meet with him immediately after being introduced in Buffalo Jan. 21.

``Having more of a background on the offensive side of the ball ... you look for someone that has caused a lot of problems for offenses around the NFL. Someone that you don't ever want to play against,'' Marrone said. ``When that was going through my mind, it kept coming around to one name.''

Pettine said he received several calls from mutual friends urging him to go work for Marrone.

``It got to the point,'' Pettine said, ``where I was literally answering the phone and saying if you are calling me to tell me how good of a guy Doug is and how great he is going to be to work for, I'd say, `I already got that. You got anything else?'''

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NFL Draft prospect Tre Watson hopes to time draft night around 'Avengers' release

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NFL Draft prospect Tre Watson hopes to time draft night around 'Avengers' release

Thursday night will be a very important moment in the life of former Maryland linebacker Tre Watson.

At midnight, the highly-anticipated Marvel movie Avengers: Endgame will hit the big screen for general audiences to see, bringing the conclusion to a decade worth of popular films. Watson, like millions of others, has been counting down the days until he could see the Avengers and Thanos go at it one more time.

Oh, and Thursday also marks the beginning of the 2019 NFL Draft, where Watson will most likely hear his name called at some point over the three-day span.

While Watson will be tuning into the draft that night, he understands that his moment of recognition may come a little later on in the week. Therefore, Thursday is all about 'Avengers'.

"Fortunately, you know, I'm kind of realistic. I know I'm not going to be a first-round pick," Watson said in an interview on NFL Network. "So I'll just be watching that just kind of for the formality of it, I'm definitely excited for 'Avengers' and then I kind of will springboard into Day 2 and Day 3 where I'm hoping to hear my name called. It's really a perfect set up for me, honestly."

This isn't the first time that Watson has let it be known to the world that he is a dedicated Marvel fan. His Twitter feed is filled with thoughts on the movie, including a tweet from a few months back that took the internet by storm.

The first round of the draft still does have some intrigue for Watson, as his former teammate Darnell Savage Jr. has gained a lot of steam during the draft process and has a chance to be chosen on Thursday night. However, Watson will hope that Savage's name is called earlier in the night rather than later, as he will need time to get to the theatre to prepare to watch  Captain America and company save the day one last time. 

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Redskins fans shouldn't hate the idea of Daniel Jones at No. 15 as much as they seem to

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins fans shouldn't hate the idea of Daniel Jones at No. 15 as much as they seem to

For some reason — whether it's because they like another quarterback better, or because his college numbers don't exactly pop, or because he went to college at Duke — a ton of Redskins fans really don't like the idea of their team drafting Daniel Jones 15th overall.

In fact, its gotten to the point where some have even changed their handle on Twitter to names that reflect their anti-Jones stance. 

In a Mock Draft Special on NBC Sports Washington's MyTeams app, though, Charley Casserly has the Redskins taking Jones at pick No. 15. Now, before you punt your phone or spike your laptop, hear Casserly out on what there is to like about Jones. 

"He's the most pro-ready quarterback in this year's draft," the former GM explained. "Why do I say that? Vision and anticipation. Vision is the ability to see the field and go in a progression from one to two to three in the receivers. Anticipation — see the blitz coming, get it to the hot receiver, get the ball out before the receiver makes his break. He's very good at both of those things."

What Jones doesn't have, such as a top arm, is something you can see right away in workouts and on tape. But his strengths, such as his ability to find the right read or throw a wideout open, aren't as simple to notice.

Perhaps that's why 'Skins fans are so against him — because you have to do more projecting when it comes to his future as opposed to someone like Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins, guys with tons of college success and tape that will wow you.

Jay Gruden has mentioned this offseason how, if Washington does grab a QB, he expects that player to come in early and compete. They can't be treated like a minor leaguer, someone who can slowly work their way up to a place where they're ready for Sundays. 

According to Casserly at least, Jones won't need much grooming. Maybe that catches Gruden's eye.

In his mock, the analyst slotted the Duke product to the Redskins instead of Missouri's Drew Lock due to, among other things, Lock not being as accurate. Other players the Burgundy and Gold could've selected but didn't were Brian Burns, Clelin Ferrell and DK Metcalf.

In the end, Casserly kept lauding Jones' readiness. In addition to his athleticism, Casserly expects Jones to come into the league and make a difference early with his eyes and his mind.

"Super smart guy," he said. "He's a natural at that stuff. That's not natural. That's stuff you have to learn."

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