Mike Pettine's name wasn't at the top of the list of potential head coaching candidates when the 2014 hiring cycle began. In fact, he may not have been on the list at all.
But Pettine, the former Jets defensive coordinator who spent the 2013 season as Buffalo's defensive coordinator, became a viable candidate for the Browns' job once the team started sifting through what turned out to be an exhaustive group of prospective coaches.
Pettine impressed Browns executives enough to convince them he was the right man for the job. But it won't be easy, not after the team summarily dismissed coach Rob Chudzinski after just one season. Pettine remains optimistic, though.
"I looked at the situation as when you put all of the factors together this franchise is in position, given the right leadership, to win."
The Browns, who finished 4-12 last season, now have had four coaches in just six seasons. Pettine is the seventh full-time head coach since the team restarted operations in Cleveland in 1999. The Browns are a miserable 77-163 since then.
Pettine said he'll take a more global approach now that he’s a head coach.
"I think too many times on NFL staffs, offensive coaches don't truly know how defenses work. Defensive coaches don't truly know how offenses work, and that's where you fall short," he said.
"There's truly not enough sharing of information back and forth and you really end up as offense, defense and special teams as three independent subcontractors. I think you're doing yourself a disservice that way and I feel that’s my responsibility as the head coach to be able to be a bridge for information to be able to flow back and forth."
Good luck with that. Pettine is certainly a good football man with an impressive resume, although he has never been a head coach except at the high school level. Taking over in Cleveland, where the Browns have made the playoffs only once since 1999, won’t be easy.
Then again, there may be some hope for the Browns. They have a good defense that Pettine will make better. And if they can get in position to draft Texas A &M quarterback Johnny Manziel, this might actually be a team worth watching.