Mike Pettine has only just begun the process of analyzing what he's inherited as new coach of the Cleveland Browns, but he's already come up with one fix for for last year's sixth-overall draft pick, Barkevious Mingo.
The coach told reporters Thursday that he's excited to work with Mingo and confident he can generate havoc-wreaking performances out of the team's No. 1 pick from a season ago, but Pettine would like the lanky edge rusher to pack on the pounds this offseason, per the Akron Beacon Journal.
Mingo had his moments as a rookie in Ray Horton's 3-4 scheme, but too often he disappeared down the stretch, ultimately finishing as the 38th-ranked outside 'backer out of 42 eligible defenders, via Pro Football Focus. He especially struggled against the run, one reason it would make sense to add muscle to his 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame.
Cleveland's new defensive coordinator, Jim O'Neil, spoke of one potential source of calories, telling reporters Thursday that his wife baked Barkevious cupcakes for Bills assistants last April in anticipation of Buffalo drafting Mingo with the eighth-overall pick. If those ill-conceived treats went uneaten, O'Neil and Pettine now can dig in.
Mingo is the ideal project for these defensive-minded coaches. In Nicholas Dawidoff's "Collision Low Crossers," one of the best football books in years and a chronicle of the 2011 Jets, the author talks of Pettine -- then Rex Ryan's defensive coordinator -- wanting to add "bitch-kitty pass rushers" to New York's roster.
"By this," writes Dawidoff, "he meant a defensive end or, in a 3-4 alignment, an outside linebacker who would smell a warm quarterback and become an insatiable, unblockable, pocket-infiltrating force of war-daddy bedlam."
Mingo was drafted to do just that. He played raw as a rookie and never reached that potential this past season, but Pettine and O'Neil -- after coaxing a franchise-record 57 sacks out of the Bills last season -- will aim to turn Barkevious lose on the AFC North in 2014.