Skip to main content

Around the League

Presented By

Why Mike Pettine makes sense for Cleveland Browns

It was messy, but the Cleveland Browns don't owe anybody an apology.

In a time when everything must be seen and heard and revealed instantly, the team's search for a new head coach has baffled pundits and irritated fans by holding true to just one timeline: their own.

The Brownsfinally found their man Thursday in Mike Pettine, the former defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, who arrives as something of a mystery. But not for long.

The son of a Pennsylvania football coach, Pettine is an obsessive, detail-oriented leader who played the foil to Rex Ryan in Baltimore and Gotham before the Bills tossed him the keys to Buffalo's defense a year ago. In his first season, Pettine unleashed a versatile, attacking unit that set franchise records with 57 sacks and 23 interceptions.

He's also the breakout star of Nicholas Dawidoff's "Collision Low Crossers," one of the top football books of the past two decades. Chronicling the 2011 Jets, Dawidoff paints a portrait of Pettine as a hyper-prepared, open-minded -- often humorous -- unifier who views his fellow coaches as nothing less than brothers.

He comes across as a football lifer.

Evident in those pages: Pettine's love for players written off by the masses. He brings a track record of molding outliers and chip-on-the-shoulder types -- think Bart Scott -- into punishing defensive centerpieces.

Dawidoff tells how Pettine at the scouting combine "hoped to discover 'a bitch-kitty pass rusher.' By this 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."

Pettine will surprise Cleveland, but his challenge is clear. He comes to the Browns at a time when the team's Q rating is in the basement. The firing of Rob Chudzinski and secret meet-and-greets with the likes of Greg Schiano have fans questioning if Lake Erie will ever again hear the cheers of a winner.

A healthy dose of skepticism is more than fair, but the Browns shouldn't be flamed for taking their time. Land the right coach and not a soul will care or remember how this search was perceived.

The last thing this franchise needs is a lukewarm Adam Gase yanked into the picture against his will. The word from the start was that Pettine "badly" wanted this job. He wants to be in Cleveland, when nobody else seems to want anything close to that.

The Browns have unearthed -- maybe they've stumbled into -- a good coach. No apologies necessary.

The "Around The League Podcast" is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content