Until now, Mike Pettine had yet to weigh in on this week's stunning shakeup in Cleveland.
The Browns coach finally broke his silence on Thursday, admitting to reporters that Jimmy Haslam's decision to cut ties with CEO Joe Banner and general manager Michael Lombardi came as a surprise.
"It was nothing that was talked about obviously during the interview process," Pettine said, per the Akron Beacon Journal, "but it was a clear message from the owner about his commitment to bringing stability to the franchise moving forward."
The former defensive coordinator of the Jets and Bills called it "bittersweet" to miss out on working with Banner and Lombardi after bonding with the duo during the hiring process, but said "we're moving full-speed ahead."
As we agreed on the latest podcast, Pettine sits in a tricky position for a first-year head coach, now partnered with a new general manager in Ray Farmer who didn't view him as a top choice for the job. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported this week that Farmer might have preferred an offensive innovator like Oklahoma's Bob Stoops or Auburn's Gus Malzahn.
Pettine called Farmer's absence from the interview process "overblown" and said of the first-time general manager, "I can already tell that we're going to have a tremendous relationship."
"From the moment that I met him." said Pettine, "I think we -- it was very natural -- our conversations, our philosophy about football, the draft, free agency, how to build a team. He and I are going to be -- and he's used the term -- in lockstep from here on out ... We've clicked, and I'm looking forward to a long, successful relationship."
It's a relationship that will be monitored closely in the weeks, months and critical season ahead.