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Bears hire Pettine as senior defensive assistant


The Bears on Wednesday hired veteran NFL coach Mike Pettine as a senior defensive assistant. He arrives after spending the past three seasons as Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator.

Pettine boasts 17 seasons of NFL experience. He worked with the Baltimore Ravens as a coaching assistant (2002-03), assistant defensive line coach (2004) and outside linebackers coach (2005-08) before serving as defensive coordinator with the New York Jets (2009-12) and Buffalo Bills (2013).

Pettine then spent two seasons as head coach of the Cleveland Browns (2014-15), followed by one year as a consultant with the Seattle Seahawks (2016) before being hired by the Packers in 2017.

Pettine joins a revamped defensive coaching staff in Chicago. Since the end of the 2020 season, the Bears have promoted Sean Desai from safeties coach to defensive coordinator and Bill Shuey from defensive pass analyst/assistant linebackers coach to outside linebackers coach, and hired Chris Rumph as defensive line coach, Bill McGovern as inside linebackers coach and Mike Adams as assistant defensive backs coach.

Pettine helped Green Bay win the NFC North title and reach the NFC Championship Game each of the past two seasons. In 2019, the Packers ranked ninth in the NFL in points allowed per game (19.6), the first time they finished in the top 10 since 2010. Green Bay's defense also tied for third with 17 interceptions and ranked sixth in opponent passer rating (81.1). The unit also featured the first duo in franchise history to post at least 12 sacks each in linebackers Za'Darius Smith (13.5) and Preston Smith (12.0).

In 2020, Pettine led a Packers defense that ranked ninth in the league in total yards (334.0), eighth in red-zone touchdown percentage (57.7) and tied for 10th in sacks (41). After the season, Za'Darius Smith and cornerback Jaire Alexander were both named second-team All-Pro.

In Pettine's first season as Browns head coach in 2014, he led them to their most wins (7) since 2007 behind a defense that topped the NFL in opponent passer rating (74.1) and opponent completion percentage (57.1) and ranked second in interceptions (21), tied for fourth in takeaways (29), fifth in red-zone TD percentage (46.3) and ninth in points per game (21.1).

Bears safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2014 while playing for Pettine and the Browns. Gipson registered a career-high six interceptions, returning them for a league-leading 158 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown in a 26-24 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Before joining the Browns, Pettine's defenses finished in the top 10 in total yards and passing yards in all five of his seasons as defensive coordinator with the Jets (2009-12) and Bills (2013).

During Pettine's four years with the Jets, the defense led the NFL in opponent passer rating (71.0), opponent pass completion percentage (52.6) and passing yards per game (186.3); ranked second in total yards per game (294.8) and third-down efficiency (34.6 percent) and seventh in points per game (20.0) and takeaways (115).

Pettine helped the Jets reach the AFC Championship Game in each of his first two years with the team. In 2009, the Jets defense led the NFL in points (14.8), total yards (252.3) and passing yards (153.7) per game and opponent passer rating (58.8). The 14.8 points set a record for the fewest in a single season in franchise history.

In 2010, the Jets defense led the NFL in opponent pass completion percentage (50.7) and ranked third in total yards (291.5) and rushing yards (90.9) per game. In 2011, the Jets defense ranked third in opponent passer rating (69.6), fourth in opponent pass completion percentage (54.2) and tied for fifth in takeaways (31)—marking the third straight season under Pettine that the Jets generated at least 30 takeaways. In 2012, the Jets finished second in passing yards per game (189.8) and opponent pass completion percentage (53.8) and seventh in opponent passer rating (78.2).

In Pettine's only season in Buffalo in 2013, the Bills led the NFL in opponent completion percentage (55.3), ranked second in interceptions (23) and sacks (57), third in opponent passer rating (74.9), fourth in passing yards per game (204.4) and tied for sixth in takeaways (30).

Prior to joining the NFL coaching ranks, Pettine was the head coach at North Penn High School (Lansdale, Pa.) from 1997-2001. He led the school to 45 wins in five seasons, including an 11-2 record in 1999.

Pettine also served as the head coach at William Tennent High School (Warminster, Pa.) in 1995-96, taking over a team that had won three games total in the previous three seasons. He led the team to five wins in his first season and a school-record nine victories in 1996. Pettine also spent two seasons coaching at the college level, serving as a defensive graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh in 1993-94.

Pettine began his coaching career as an assistant to his father, Mike Sr., at Central Bucks West High School in Doylestown, Pa., for five seasons (1988-92). Mike Sr., who coached 33 seasons at the school, retired after the 1999 campaign as the winningest coach in the history of Pennsylvania high school football with a career record of 326-42-4 (.882). Pettine played for his father and earned all-state honors at quarterback and defensive back.

Pettine was a two-year letterman as a free safety at Virginia in 1986-87, leading the team with five interceptions in 1986 and tying the single-game school record for picks with three versus North Carolina State that season. He graduated with a degree in economics.

In other coaching news Wednesday, the Bears promoted Mike Snyder from offensive quality control coach to offensive quality control/assistant quarterbacks coach and Henry Burris from Bill Walsh Coaching Fellow to offensive quality control coach.

Check out the best photos of the 2020 season—taken by Bears photographers—featuring players on the defensive side of the ball.

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