Tonawanda News — "And it was clear that this guy really knew football, and we weren't really utilizing his talents. So when I had the opportunity, we had a quality control job open, there's only one guy that I wanted and that was him. From then, he did a tremendous job. He was my right hand man."
Pettine would earn a handful of promotions over the years, moving up from a coaching and video assistant role to outside linebackers coach. When Ryan was named coach of the Jets in 2009, he brought Pettine with him to New York as his defensive coordinator.
Pettine helped mold the Jets into one of the best defenses in the league with New York making the AFC Championship game in his first two seasons. The Jets struggled over the next two years, and Pettine elected to move on to Buffalo where he could start fresh and step out of Ryan's shadow.
"These things happen," Ryan said. "Mike Pettine can stand on his own."
Pettine insists that there was no falling out between the two. Instead, he says it was just time for a change.
"I was given some good advice a long time ago by (former Jets GM) Mike Tannenbaum," Pettine said. "He said you're in a team business where team and loyalty is preached. But at the end of the day you have to be the CEO of yourself.
"I know a lot of things were made of it and people just kind of tried to fill the holes in and put negative things in it and it was upsetting because that wasn't the case. Rex and I, our relationship today is just as strong as it was before."
Still, there will be no love lost when the two reunite at MetLife Stadium Sunday.
"Coaches in the NFL are born with a competitive gene, and you want to win at everything," Pettine said. "When I went on vacation with Rex and we were throwing washers on the beach I wanted to beat him just as bad as I want to beat him on Sunday."