So here we are again. For the seventh time in the 15 years since bringing a team back to the city of Cleveland The Cleveland Browns have named a new head coach for the upcoming season.
After firing Rob Chudzinski on December 29, the Browns hired Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to be the new head coach.
So why did the Browns hire another seemingly unknown coach who came out of nowhere? Well, much like they do every year, the team had no real plan outside of the fact that the present coach “wasn’t the answer,” (their words not mine). Once that task was accomplished, to the disdain of many fans and players, I gave the team the benefit of the doubt. I thought, “Oh they must know what they’re doing. They MUST have a high profile name in their sights.” Unfortunately, the Browns, as they always seem to do, betrayed my trust in the worst possible way.
I kept waiting for news about the search, but time seemingly dragged on, and as other teams continued to fill their head coaching vacancies, the Browns’ job remained open. Then, other franchises began filling up their coordinator jobs as well. The Browns head coaching vacancy remained open. I again tried, in my state of pure denial, to remain optimistic. “Oh, they’re just being very selective. They just want to wait until they find the perfect candidate for the team.”
Then, the Pettine hire happened. The entire front office will tell you that they hired him because he was their “perfect candidate,” but that’s a total lie. They hired him because they didn’t want to wait for the Seattle Seahawks’’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to participate in the Super Bowl next weekend. They settled for a no-name guy who hasn’t been relevant since being Rex Ryan’s right-hand man in New York from 2009-12.
Personally, I don’t understand the rationale of hiring a defensive-minded coordinator for the head coach. The defense is not at all where the issue is at. Last season, the Browns were ranked ninth in total defense. Where was the Pettine led Buffalo Bills defense? One spot behind the Brownies at number 10. So, the Browns hired the coordinator of a top-10 total defense. Nothing wrong with that. But what happened to Cleveland’s own defensive coordinator of a better total defense then the team’s next head coach? They let him walk, allowing him to take not a head coaching gig, but the same position with the Tennessee Titans.
The question that then comes with hiring a defensive minded coach at all is why? The struggle of the Browns obviously did not lie with the defensive side of the ball, but with the 18th ranked offense. So why then, bring in a guy whose specialty is in an area that the team excelled in, while the aspect that struggled is left only to one of the few coordinators who are still out on the thinning open market this late in the process?
So it looks like another year of the jumbled mess known as picking a head coach has ended with the Browns being left with an unknown running the team. Will it work? I hope to God that it does, but only time will tell if, like many before, Pettine will just be another name swiftly added to the list of ex-Browns coaches who just couldn’t get the job done.
Eric “Caveman” Johnson’s recent article on the Browns’ Top 5 draft scenarios