Browns hire Bills DC Pettine as new head coach
It was suggested a few days ago that Pettine was a near lock to land the job, but the fact that the Browns did not hire him immediately after his second interview gave some analysts pause. ESPN's Adam Schefter said last night to "get ready for a curveball" regarding the Browns search for a new head coach, as he thought that the dragged out hiring process was to keep Pettine hanging around as a fallback option. There was speculation that the Browns' ideal candidate was Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who would not take an interview until after his team played in the Super Bowl. It turns out, however, that the Browns don't feel the need to look further than Pettine, so they have brought him on to lead their staff.
In Pettine, the Browns get a disciple of defensive juggernaut Rex Ryan, which means that Pettine is just about as hard-nosed and aggressive as they come. "Mike is the epitome of what we want the Browns to be," said owner Jimmy Haslam. "Tough, aggressive, and innovative, with a blue-collar, team-first mentality."
Pettine obviously had success while coordinating a defense under Ryan during his time with the New York Jets from 2009-12, but there was always question as to how much of that was Pettine and how much was Ryan. During his one season in Buffalo, however, Pettine proved to be a fantastic coordinator, as he took a Bills defense that ranked 22nd in yards and 23rd in takeaways and had them improve to 10th in yards and sixth in takeaways during his lone season as the defensive boss.
In Cleveland, Pettine will have an opportunity to field a ferocious defense, as the Browns have a plethora of great pieces in place. The front seven is loaded with tough, talented defenders, and a big hitter like T.J. Ward at strong safety is probably the type of player that Pettine dreams of coaching. The Browns also have a great shutdown corner in Joe Haden, who is bound to remind Pettine of his old buddy Darrelle Revis.
A key factor for Pettine in finding success will be hiring the right offensive coordinator. There should be very little concern over the defense, but the Browns' offense is a mess, and Pettine won't be able to do much to help that. It's a shame that the Browns let 2013 offensive coordinator Norv Turner leave for the Minnesota Vikings. If Pettine can find an offensive coordinator who can bring in a new quarterback and place him in a system that he can succeed in, the Browns could get their team turned around pretty quickly. They have plenty of strong pieces, but they haven't quite come together, and much of that is due to their lack of a franchise quarterback.
It is worth noting that Pettine will be the third head coach for the Browns in the three years that Haslam has owned the team, which is part of the reason that several candidates turned this job down.