It isn’t fair to Mike Pettine. Then again, life isn’t fair.
Joe Banner and Jimmy Haslam introduced Pettine to the Cleveland media late Thursday afternoon. It was the culmination of a twelve year NFL career that began as a Baltimore Ravens video assistant. Seven seasons in Baltimore earned him a job with Rob Ryan as a defensive coordinator for the Jets. From there he took over the Bills defense last season. All those steps prepared him for a job as a head coach in the NFL. His dream job.
Then he came to Cleveland.
In Cleveland, these introductory press conferences happen all too often. Call it an orange and brown version of Groundhog Day. That isn’t Pettine’s fault of course, but it is the job he took.
Pettine said he didn’t care about ‘winning the press conference’. That’s good, because truthfully he didn’t. I think the best that can be said is that he didn’t lose it.
The son of a longtime high school coach, Pettine signed a five year contract to coach the Browns. (Insert your own joke if you still have the desire.) Whether or not he is still the coach at the end of those five years will largely depend on the quarterback that lines up under center for him. To his credit, Pettine didn’t downplay the importance of the position.
“There’s the quarterback and then there’s about 10 open spots, and then you start talking about the next open position,” said Pettine gesturing down with his hand as he spoke.
Pettine did say that quarterback Brian Hoyer “Is a winner. Intangibles that are off the chart.” Apparently he was not asked about any of the other quarterbacks on the roster.
Quarterback aside, Pettine wants to build a team built on toughness. His time in Baltimore, he believes has prepared him for football in the AFC North.
“My vision here in Cleveland, having spent time in Baltimore, 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,” said Pettine. “This team is going to be built on toughness. Most people think of toughness in just the physical sense, I think as important or more important is the mental toughness, is the ability to think through things when they aren’t going well, to hang tough when things go bad, that the heads don’t drop and that same old Browns, and teams talk themselves into losing. That to me is the culture that needs to be changed here. So again, we’re going to build a team here that’s not just physically tough, but obviously mentally.”
Another hire with the goal to change the culture in Cleveland. Just like last year at this time, we hope that the new coach is successful. Because these press conferences are just getting depressing.
A couple of interesting notes from the press conference:
– When asked if he would have final say on the roster, Pettine said those details hadn’t been completely worked out. Um, let us give you a hint. You don’t. If final control of the roster is a deal breaker for you, then that probably should have been negotiated before the press conference. You aren’t getting it now. Of course, you weren’t getting it before either. Good luck with that.
– Joe Banner isn’t over that three stooges crack from the last press conference. He tried to crack a joke about finding the third stooge. Funny thing is, Lombardi was the third stooge in that joke. Of course, Lombardi wasn’t there for the press conference.
– Did you catch that ‘same old Browns’ reference above? That really must bug Jimmy Haslam. Good. That’s actually a positive thing in my mind. I want Haslam to be irritated thinking about being the same old Browns. I hope that it rings in his ears until the team performs like a different team.
– Interesting the way the Browns organized this press conference. It was in the field house at a single podium instead of in the media room on the stage. Having the single podium allowed Pettine to speak and take questions without having Banner and Haslam flanking him. Of course, that also meant that questions wouldn’t be directed at the latter. Probably a smart move. The last press conference was a bit of an inquisition.
– Pettine went straight to work trying to assemble his coaching staff. He admitted that they were behind the eight ball. He also admitted that he would like to have someone on staff with head coaching experience. That smells an awful lot like Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator to me.