By Bruce Hooley | ESPNCleveland.com
Here’s a quick look at the good, the bad and the ugly of the conclusion to the Browns’ coaching search and the introduction of Mike Pettine.
- Pettine looked uncomfortable standing at the podium in a coat and tie. He said he was uncomfortable. And it looked like his suit was an off-the-rack variety, not custom-tailored. That’s good. It screams, FOOTBALL COACH.
- He didn’t deny the challenges facing the Browns or that he wasn’t the team’s first choice as head coach. Honesty is good. Browns fans aren’t accustomed to it from the message-massagers in charge in Berea. Pettine talks like a Clevelander. “I’ll always bet on myself,” he said. Beautiful.
- Browns CEO Joe Banner lightened the mood with a Three Stooges joke at the outset of his brief remarks. The self-deprecating humor was well played. Banner would have done even better had he said, “I know you’re all wondering where our general manager, Mike Lombardi, is. Mike’s not here. He’s out getting my dry cleaning.”
- Pettine made clear that while he coached under Rex Ryan, he’s no Rex clone in terms of bluster. “For any of you that are expecting me to be like him personality-wise, you’ll be mistaken,” Pettine said. “We were pretty much opposites of each other. I’m not going to be predicting Super Bowls...I think he and I, for many years, were the perfect complement for each other.” The Browns would be well served if Pettine can deliver the defensive results of Ryan without the drama.
- Pettine showed he has a handle on the dysfunctional mentality of the team he will coach. “Most people think of toughness in just the physical sense,” he said. “I think, as important or more important, is the mental toughness, is the ability to think through things when they aren’t going well, how to hang tough when things go bad, that the heads don’t drop and it’s the ‘same, old Browns,’ and teams talk themselves into losing. That, to me, is the culture that needs to be changed here.” Bingo.
- Hiring Pettine 25 days after firing Rob Chudzinski, after every other team in the NFL filled its head coaching job and most of its staff assignments, puts the team and the new head coach at a distinct disadvantage. It also makes the Browns management triumvirate look like bumbling fools, since owner Jimmy Haslam’s letter to fans asked for patience under the guise the team would wait to talk to coaches still involved in the playoffs.
- Interviewing fired Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano the day before hiring Pettine -- and perhaps re-approaching New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels after concocting a fanciful story about McDaniels pulling out of the search when told he wasn’t the Browns’ frontrunner – gives potential free agents additional reasons to doubt the wisdom of coming to Cleveland to play for this management team.
- Banner’s answer that Pettine proved the best candidate because he understands the “structure” of the organization portends trouble. Pettine may be the transformative force the Browns’ organization needs to break the cycle of 10 seasons with double-figure losses in the last 11 years, but his chances would be better if Banner-Lombardi understood that Chudzinski didn’t fail solely because of his own shortcomings. The front office appears intractable on bending to the desires of the head coach on draft decisions or roster decisions. At the very least, Banner-Lombardi should butt out and no longer make suggestions on matters of how to motivate the team or manage the locker room. They hired a coach, so let the man coach his team, on the field and off.
|Bruce Hooley hosts "Hooley & Jerod" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 850 WKNR. He is the author of, “That’s Why I’m Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story.”|
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