Jan 24 2014, 12:46am CST | by Poch de la Rosa
The Browns' official website issued a press release about Pettine's hiring:
"Pettine (pronounced PETT-in) joins the Browns after spending 2013 as the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills and the 2009-12 seasons as the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets. Pettine has helped his units to a top 10 finish in total defense in all five of his seasons as defensive coordinator."
Pettine replaces Rob Chudzinski, who went 4-12 in his lone season as Browns head coach in 2013. He was consequently fired on Dec. 29.
Mary Kay Cabot of The Northeast Ohio Media Group notes Cleveland interviewed 10 candidates over a 25-day span. The team flew him in on Thursday to finalize the deal after he met with Browns management twice previously.
Cabot adds Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was Pettine's stiffest competitor to be Browns head coach, citing league sources. Other candidates included Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano.
Pettine made a great first impression on team management, prompting his teenage daughter Megan to tweet her dad will be back for a second meeting. "The tweet was later deleted, and the account deactivated," per Cabot.
ESPN's Pat McManamon writes the first meeting took place in Mobile, Ala. where Pettine represented the Bills during Senior Bowl practices.
McManamon also says "Pettine is a disciple of New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan." The two had previously worked together with the Baltimore Ravens when Pettine was the linebackers coach while Ryan was the defensive coordinator.
When Ryan took the New York Jets head coaching job in 2009, he brought Pettine with him to be his defensive coordinator. He then moved over to Buffalo in 2012 after his contract with New York expired to work in the same capacity.
The Jets topped the NFL in team defense in 2009 while the Bills ranked second with 57 sacks in 2013 -- testaments of Pettine's prowess as a defensive mind.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said the team is thrilled to welcome Pettine on board. He said his new head coach's ability to lead teams to "constant improvement and success" is what Cleveland is aiming for at this point in its franchise history.
"We are thrilled to announce Mike Pettine as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Mike is the epitome of what we want the Browns to be -- tough, aggressive and innovative -- with a blue-collar, team-first mentality.
"He knows what's necessary to beat teams in the AFC North. Most importantly, Mike has repeatedly shown the ability to lead his players to consistent improvement and success, clearly what we are striving for as he leads the Cleveland Browns moving forward."
"We wanted to be thorough from the start, and we interviewed as many people as we could. From that group, we hired the best individual for this job. Our players and fans are going to really enjoy Mike Pettine and his leadership style. We're excited to have him out in front of our team, and we look forward to working closely with him."
He said he will set high standards for the Browns, who he envisions to be a team built on toughness which the fans can be proud of, per ClevleandBrowns.com's Matt Florjancic.
"I don't think anything I can say or do today, or for that matter, up until September will matter. This is a bottom-line business, and it's all about winning. I'm not into winning press conferences. I just want the Cleveland fans to know that we're going to put a team out on the field that they can be proud of. It's going to come down to the fall and winning football games.
"I have belief in the staff that we're going to build, a belief in the players and I have a belief in the system that will be run here. The standards will be high. Players will be held accountable, and that formula has been applied in other places, and it has been successful.
"To compete in the AFC North, you have to be willing to bloody your nose a little bit. I think that's the mentality that we're going to take here. This team is going to be built on toughness.
"I'm not going to be that defensive coach that says,'We're going to win it on defense and run and we don't need to have a great quarterback.' To win in this league, you have to have a great quarterback, and that's something we're going to put our full focus and attention on."
In a related development, the Browns requested to interview Buffalo linebackers coach Jim O'Neil for their defensive coordinator position, per league sources who told McManamon. Pettine and O'Neil also worked together previously on the Jets' sideline.
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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