Initial Thoughts on Mike Pettine Hire:
After nearly four weeks without a head coach, the Cleveland Browns finally inked former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as their new leader. There has been an ample amount of negativity surrounding the hiring process (which is warranted, based on the franchise’s recent history) – here are a few things I noticed about the newest head coach.
– I would have preferred an offensive-minded head coach.
In an league where rules typically favor the offense and yardage and point totals continually to increase every year, I anticipated the team would hire a guy that can propel the Browns to the forefront of these trends. However, that was not the case so the defensive-oriented coach must now employ a strong leader to guide the offense. One point of “optimism” is that the Browns were coached by an offensive-centric leader alongside a coordinator with several years of experience – and the end result was a 4 – 12 season (so having a defensive leader is not necessarily a bad thing). At this point, the Browns must simply draft the correct quarterback and whoever is in charge of the offense has to get solid play from the signal caller.
– He comes across as more assertive.
Mike Pettine spoke tremendously in his initial press conference and never seemed nervous when talking to the media – albeit he stated that is not his favorite thing to do. To many, this is not a big deal but I like the fact he can command the room and speak with conviction to strangers. Hopefully this translates to the locker room, and Browns’ players listen and accept what the coach is trying to accomplish. Many felt the past few coaches were “pushovers” who the players tuned out once the team succumbed to a few losses. Time will only tell if Pettine can be different from his predecessors, but my initial thought is that this guy is a stronger leader.
– The accountability aspect is refreshing to hear.
One thing that irritates me is when coaches continue to give guys opportunities to play, especially when they routinely make mistakes. I understand that the wide receiver position last year was dire (outside of Josh Gordon), but Greg Little and Davone Bess remained in the Browns’ game plan. Drops, poor attitude, and bad route running did not lead to benching by coach Chudzinski. Assuming coach Pettine is true to his word, this will no longer be the case. The Browns have to understand that playing well is one way to stay on the field and “collecting checks” is unacceptable. As the team’s depth continues to improve, there should not be a huge drop-off when a starter is sidelined for a period of time. When a benching occurs, hopefully a passion drives the athlete to reappear on the gridiron.
– He was not the front office’s first choice, and he does not care.
I am glad that the new head coach is fine with the fact he was not the front office’s first option. A guy who is hurt by this is weak mentally and will likely have it on his mind during his stint in Cleveland. However, I believe Pettine will use it as motivation to prove that he is a bona-fide coach who deserved this opportunity in the NFL. There are many examples of coaches in the league who were not deemed to be the “top guy” initially in the hiring process (Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh to name a couple). If Pettine is ready to embrace this opportunity, that’s all that matters, and I look forward to see what he can do during his tenure.
– Pettine will have an extremely tough time filling out his staff and implementing systems.
This is rather obvious, as the Browns were the final franchise to sign their head coach. I’m not terribly concerned about this however, as assistant coaches should be of lesser importance than their boss. Last season, the Browns had two exceptional assistants and it did not lead to many victories. Regardless of who takes over the coordinator duties, as long as the head coach can implement his schemes effectively then I will be content for the 2014 campaign.