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Bills hire ex-Lions head man Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator

The Buffalo Bills wasted no time in finding a replacement for Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator, and it is a high-profile replacement.

The Bills announced tonight they have hired Jim Schwartz as their new defensive chief. Schwartz was fired earlier this month after four seasons as head coach of the Detroit Lions. Before that he spent 10 seasons with the Tennessee Titans, the last eight of which were as defensive coordinator. He takes over for Pettine, hired on Thursday as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

“We are excited to add a talented and accomplished coordinator in Jim Schwartz to our staff,” said Bills head coach Doug Marrone in a statement.  “Schwartz has led aggressive and productive defensive units throughout his time in the NFL and we feel our defense will continue to improve under his leadership."

Schwartz, 47, built a strong resume as Titans defensive coordinator from 2001 to 2008. Tennessee ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed over those eight seasons, yielding just 103.5 yards a game. The Titans were sixth over the same period in third-down defense, holding foes to 36.1 percent conversions. Schwartz took the Lions to the playoffs with a 10-6 record in 2011. But Detroit slumped to 4-12 in 2012, and it went 7-9 in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Bills announced the hiring of Todd Downing as quarterbacks coach. Downing comes with Schwartz, having served the past four years in Detroit. Downing, 33, was Lions quarterbacks coach the past two years. He was a quality control coach before that.

“Todd Downing is a bright and energetic coach.  He is familiar with our personnel at the quarterback position and he will play a key role in the development of all of the quarterbacks on the Bills’ roster,” said Bills head coach Doug Marrone.  “He played a pivotal role in the development of Detroit’s quarterbacks during his tenure – most notably Matthew Stafford, the franchise’s all-time leading passer.  Downing will be a valuable addition to our offensive coaching staff.”

Schwartz ran a 4-3 scheme in both Tennessee and Detroit. The Bills ran a hybrid defense in 2013 with the 3-4 front as the base defense. Schwartz got his start in the NFL during Bill Belichick's coaching tenure in Cleveland. Schwartz served in the player personnel department of the Browns from 1993 to '95.

Schwartz's defenses were more successful in Tennessee than in Detroit, where his defensive coordinator was long-time NFL coach Gunther Cunningham. Detroit's defense ranked 16th this past season, then 13th, 23rd and 21st the seasons before. His Titans defenses ranked in the top 12 in the NFL five of eight seasons. The Titans were second in points allowed in 2008.



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