Schwartz was best bet for Bills defense

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
10:25
PM ET
The Cleveland Browns took more than a week to pluck Mike Pettine away from the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills took just a day to replace him.

Schwartz
Taking swift action, the Bills hired Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator Friday. While an extended and thorough search is sometimes best, this is a case where the Bills' hustle was ideal.

The prospect of Pettine leaving has been on the Bills' radar for several weeks, and arguably since he arrived in Buffalo last winter. It was little secret that Pettine had an appetite to become a head coach and given the opportunity, he would likely make the move.

Cleveland gave Pettine that chance this week and the Bills moved quickly to execute their contingency plan, which brings an experienced coach to Buffalo.

It's difficult not to view Schwartz as the best available candidate. While he finished with a 29-51 record as head coach of the Detroit Lions, losing in his only playoff appearance in 2011, Schwartz is taking on a lesser role with the Bills, returning to his roots as a defensive coordinator.

There is plenty of appeal for the Bills. In hiring Schwartz, the Bills add name recognition to their rebuilding project, reinforcing an urgency to win by luring a bigger name to the NFL's smallest market.

That alone is good business, but from a football perspective there is a lot for the Bills to like about Schwartz. Outside of the Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson connection, the strength of the Lions under Schwartz was their defensive line, stacked with three first-round picks: Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ziggy Ansah.

The Bills have their own stock of talent along the defensive line, as they've sent three linemen to Sunday's Pro Bowl: Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, and Marcell Dareus. If the Bills wanted a coach to maximize the ability of these three players in the same way that Pettine did, Schwartz was their man.

Schwartz also offers hope for an improved run defense. Despite improvement in most statistical categories under Pettine, the Bills finished 28th in run defense last season. The Lions finished sixth, allowing under 100 rushing yards per game.

In this case, the Bills' expediency has provided them with the top option at a time when the NFL coaching market typically has thinned out.

Job well done.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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