A Cleveland Browns coaching search that has hinged almost entirely on offensive-minded candidates is now setting its sights on defense.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will interview Thursday with Browns brass, per a source informed of the team's plans. The Bills later confirmed that Pettine is a candidate for the Browns post.
It's an interesting turn after Cleveland's ongoing hunt moved from an initial obsession with New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who withdrew his name from the mix, to Denver Broncos play-caller Adam Gase, who now looms as a leading candidate for the job, according to Rapoport.
Pettine is an accomplished defensive coach, having trailed Rex Ryan from the Baltimore Ravens to the New York Jets before latching on with Doug Marrone's Buffalo contingent. In his first season with the Bills, Pettine helped craft a 10th-ranked defense that finished second in the league with 57 sacks. He's a master of mixing three- and four-man fronts to confuse opposing passers.
The Browns have made it clear they're in no rush to hire someone simply to appease an antsy fan base. Team owner Jimmy Haslam, deeply involved in the search, said Wednesday in a letter to season-ticket holders: "We are prepared to wait as long as necessary because this is a very important decision. Everyone in our organization is committed to finding the right leader for our team."
Don't be surprised if more names emerge from the haze for the last head-coaching vacancy in all the land.