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Mike Pettine: NFL playbooks are 'only the skeleton'

Mike Pettine has penned another chapter to the Playbook Anecdote Heard Round The World.

One day after his comments to Greg Bedard of The MMQB caught fire and strangely united Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick, the Cleveland Browns coach went on record Friday with ProFootballTalk to unpack his claim that "Rex would give (playbooks) out like candy."

"Most playbooks are very broad," Pettine said over the phone from Hawaii, where he's (attempting to go) on vacation. "We'll have 80 (defensive formations) in a playbook, 30 in a game plan. We'll add six or seven new ones for a given game."

Bedard's wide-ranging piece on Pettine deserves a full read. It's of little surprise, though, that a tale about Tom Brady bragging that New England "may or may not have" a couple of Jets defensive playbooks grabbed headlines.

Pettine stressed that he wasn't accusing Belichick of stealing those tomes.

"It's a credit that (the Patriots) have been able to get that information," Pettine said. "I didn't mean to imply it was gathered illegally. ... To me, it's a sign of a smart team. We're not actively pursuing playbooks, but when they fall in your laps, you'll study it."

ESPNNewYork's Rich Cimini pointed out Friday morning that anyone with a halfway-stable Wi-Fi hookup can download Gang Green's 2010 defensive playbook. Pettine's point -- echoing what Rex hammered home Thursday -- is that schemes evolve and broaden weekly based on the opponent and one's own personnel.

Nicholas Dawidoff's outstanding "Collision Low Crossers," chronicling the 2011 Jets, paints the picture of New York's defensive assistants -- Pettine included -- painstakingly whittling down the playbook each week to prepare for Sunday. Those game plans were as varied as fingerprints.

Pettine said he only shared the tale with Bedard to emphasize the importance of keeping playbooks vanilla and distant.

"It's only the skeleton," Pettine said. "Not the meat on the bones."

In the latest episode of the "Around The League Podcast," the heroes discuss the winners and losers of minicamp season.

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