God help Mike Pettine

by Cleveland Frowns on January 31, 2014

In real life, Jimmy Haslam can get away with pretty much whatever he wants and tends to benefit a great deal from the fact that shit rolls downhill. But in the NFL, when Jimmy has a temper tantrum he ends up with the biggest joke of a coaching search in pro football history and Mike Pettine as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

There are certainly some nice things to say about Pettine, as with most past Browns coaching hires. For example, his nickname is “BFT,” which stands for “Blunt Force Trauma,” something to which nobody can better relate than Browns fan.

But before the Browns interviewed Pettine for the position, he had never been considered as a head coaching candidate by any other team in the league. And he wasn’t considered as such by the Browns either, until no fewer than seven of their reported top choices withdrew from consideration, either by taking other head coaching jobs or by expressly declining the opportunity for a promotion in Cleveland. Household names Adam Gase, Todd Bowles, and Ben McAdoo each decided they’d rather be coordinators somewhere else than head coach of the Browns, as did the front office’s first reported top choice, Canton native Josh McDaniels. By the time Pettine’s name even surfaced as a possibility, the league’s five other head-coaching vacancies had been filled, prompting Haslam to issue an apologetic letter to fans. By this point the Browns’ search had turned the franchise into an even bigger national punchline than it was earlier in the month for having fired its last head coach, Rob Chudzinski, after just one season on the job.

Things got so bad that the Browns even interviewed Greg Schiano fresh off one of the bloodiest locker room mutinies in recent league history down in Tampa. The NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported that the Browns job was viewed around the league as “radioactive.” Leaks from “league sources” in Cleveland reached new levels of desperation.


League Sources

But none of that stopped Haslam and Joe Banner from standing up at Pettine’s introductory press conference to congratulate themselves for how thorough they were in conducting the search that landed the new head coach in Cleveland.

“I know we were exhaustive to the point that we caused people to question and wonder,” said Banner. “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.”

“This thought that the first person to finish the coaching search is the winner I think is extremely farfetched,” added Haslam. “This is an important hire. To not take your time and talk to people and do the research, the background checks we’ve done, I think would be inexcusable.”

The level of contempt for Browns fan’s intelligence displayed here is hard to fathom, even despite recent experience. Anyway, Haslam and Banner still couldn’t be thorough enough to wait for a second interview with another confirmed top candidate, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn told the Browns that they’d have to wait until after the Super Bowl for a second interview with him. The risk of waiting only to be rejected again was apparently too much for the front office to suffer.

So here we are in a bold new era with the gulf between the Browns and the league’s legitimate franchises incredibly as wide as ever. Thirty-something no-names serially rejecting a chance at a head coaching position was never a thing in the NFL until the Haslam/Banner team started trying to hire them.

There’s at least something to be said for a man who’s willing to do a job that nobody else will take on. Good for Pettine for that, hopefully. At least he’ll end up with a few million in the bank.

The Broncos and Seahawks square off on Sunday in New Jersey and the real Super Bowl is in 96 days. Mark your calendar (Thursday, May 8) for the Fourth Annual Cleveland Frowns NFL Draft Party at Map Room sponsored by Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    And by god I mean all of the gods.

  • whosevelt

    The notion that the Browns are a laughingstock, and that Banner is widely regarded as a micro-manager with little sense for football has already been shot down by Haslam and Banner, and was widely reported by Mary Kay Cabot and Jason LaCanfora. So I don’t know how you come off writing this.

    That said, I am a lot happier with Pettine than I would be with Gase or McDaniels. Insiders and outsiders both gravitate to certain measures of success that are not reflective of ability and the biggest one of those is winning. I’d rather have a guy who brought a defense from 30th to 17th (and Pettine did better than that) than a guy who came to a presumptive contender, worked under a previously successful head coach, and didn’t screw the pooch.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      I can’t take issue with any of this.

  • Wiseoldredbeard

    I feel more confident about Pettine than I have any coach in a while. The guy believes in himself, and takes calculated risks because of that belief (blowing off Rex to get out of his shadow was a pretty gutsy move). He also seems like he doesn’t take sh*t from no one, which is sorely needed to turn our locker room around. I’m a little nervous that he’ll be a Schiano type coach, but as long as he keeps the respect of the players I think we’re good. A buddy of mine who is nuts about the Bills told me that the players there absolutely loved him for his aggressive attitude, and that they were crushed he was leaving. Who knows?

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Exactly. Who knows? Anything can happen. Given the respective track records of Cleveland sports and temper tantrums, I’m as optimistic as ever.

      • Wiseoldredbeard

        Just read a Ravens post that Suggs may be a Brown next year. That would be interesting. Either way, I do think they’ll win more next year than last, and he’ll be around for a second year. I mean, if we have good QB luck (through draft, or Hoyer), why couldn’t we win 8 games?

        • alexb

          so is the thinking that the last time Kruger made meaningful plays in the NFL it was opposite suggs? Dude is old and on his last legs, last thing we need is another overpriced OLB from Baltimore.

    • actovegin1armstrong

      Why are you commenting as WORB?

  • 7ryder

    When Haslam spoke of making the Browns a model of consistency, he was really talking about how he introduces a head coach to the media after his annual new head coach search.

  • Frank Mayse

    Sorry Frowns, you can’t agitate my apathy. When they fired Chud I gave up getting emotional or having an opinion. Wake me up in week six if this team has a pulse.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      See you at the draft party.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    Part Two of Pete Beatty’s profile of the Van Sweringen Bros. (inventors of Shaker Heights and etc.) is up and it is excellent like Part One was: http://beltmag.com/train-dreams-part-2/

    • Mad_Elf


  • p_forever

    some rich kids get trust funds to burn through, and others get NFL franchises.


  • p_forever

    also – how soon until gilbert announces that he is selling the cavs?

  • Jax

    Although being a Browns fan is difficult, frustrating, insert any adjective here ___ it could be worse. This is an excellent article from a Detroit blogger. http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/article_external/detroit_lions_find_new_ways_to_make_themselves_a_joke/15674429?linksrc=story_home_module_head_15674429

    • bupalos

      Cue Biki’s “WE’RE NOT DETROIT”

      • actovegin1armstrong

        Bupa, Or better yet cue Sam Wyche.

        • bupalos

          Better yet acto. Merry Footmas.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    So who is everyone picking in the Broncos/Seahawks game?

    • GRRustlers

      I was kind of looking for a clue from you…hidden messages in this post. Nothing. You’re a damn pro.

      • bupalos

        You mean you didn’t catch it?

        • GRRustlers

          Off my bee pollen…

    • CleveLandThatILove

      What I said week 1 of Cheddarbay (or the 1st NFL week). I stand by it because I’m stubborn that way 🙂

  • bupalos

    Next time put the most important stuff first rather than last.

    I can’t take much issue with your description of the clownish way Captain Fracky Von Rebatescam and his underlings have gotten here. It does have more of a smell than a gleam. But I do like the HERE a lot better than the THERE. I’m critical of almost every coach’s decision making, as they tend to let personal interests and gestures get in the way of quantifiable football realities–Chud was bad in this regard but honestly not much worse than most. But personality-wise, I thought the Chud regime did a lot of shrugging, and it looked to me like trait was reflected in the team. Like you say, who knows, maybe that’s wrong, or maybe Pettine will prove to have equal and opposite flaws. But he sure seems like a better bet to me, however we got here. Enough of a better bet to undergo the significant damage that has occurred? The reason I’d answer that yes is that I think most of that damage actually comes in the form of clipped wings that needed clipping. Haslem, Banner, and Lombardi all hold a worse personal hand today than they did 2 months ago, and I think that’s a good thing that might result in actions that look like they are born of a wise humility even if that’s not the case.

    The biggest question for the franchise is whether this was a one-off tantrum, the immediate consequences of which which will chasten Rebatescam, or the start of a pattern of meddling and/or allowing iagoesque characters like Lombardi to play on his bratty ego. It’s hard to be optimistic there, even for me. But I’ll hope and we’ll see.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      “however we got here”

      • bupalos

        I’m aware.

        Congrats on the ched. Almost makes me want to found my own contest.

    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      not a one-off tantrum. im 85% sure the implementation of and stocking for a 3-4, aggressive-attacking, cant-have-too-many-pass-rushers defense was a jimmy directive.

      that being said, being a meddling owner doesn’t mean you DONT know as much as ‘qualified football men.’ after all, we’re all unqualified football men and i’d take my chances with any frowns reader as browns GM over the past decade of ‘qualified football men.’ that’s because this forum is less prone to the group-think that the qualified football men fraternity breeds.

      in other words, just because jimmy might be an insular, impulsive, trustfund baby doesn’t mean we can’t strike gold with a charismatic undersized big-handed qb and stellar h.s. football coach.*

      *calls to mind a former massillon h.s. coach and northwestern qb though i have no idea on otto graham relative hand size.

  • Dave Kolonich

    So to recap, the Browns have:

    1. The worst owner in the league (at least in terms of basic humanity).
    2. A second rate front office under the delusion that they are a first class organization.

    3. A front office that played themselves into getting played by Mike Pettine – a guy who no one ever thought of interviewing for anything ever.

    4. Pettine – who is basically the 13th best option replacing Chudzinski, the one who was 4th best only a year ago.
    5. The collected fired remains of non-playoff team coaches forming a skeleton staff of assistants.

    6. Multiple high draft picks that will soon be dealt to Houston or St. Louis in a short-sighted good PR grab for Johnny “Charlie Frye 2.0” Manziel.
    7. Exactly one former NFL player directly involved in the actual scouting and drafting of players.
    8. Two current and several more talented free agents who actually want to play in Cleveland, but will likely get Banner(ed) to San Fran and Seattle.
    9. And….a great new scoreboard or Wi-Fi or something.

    What’s not to love?

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns
    • Mad_Elf

      Good God, what a freakin’ trainwreck. And by god, I mean the god I blame.

      • bupalos

        He looks like a nice boy to me. I predict 11-5.

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