The Cleveland Browns have made their choice in who will be the next head coach of the organization — Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Many folks out there are wondering, why wait so long for this guy? It’s not an attractive hire, nor is it one that many saw coming. In a word, it’s puzzling; and, to those calling it a good decision, here are some things to consider.
As a defensive coordinator for the New York Jets, Pettine guided the unit to the top of the league in 2009. Following that season, he continued to have success with his defenses. But, take a gander at how his units have fared following finishing number one in the league.
In 2010, the Jets defense finished third overall. In 2011, they finished fifth. In 2012, they came in at number eight. Last season with the Bills, his defense finished 10th overall. So, Pettine has gone from tops in the league, to a consistent decline each year thereafter. Is there much substance to justifying this hire being a poor choice by just that bizarre statistic? Not completely, but it’s very interesting and worth noting.
If you look at Pettine’s history in the NFL, he has absolutely zero experience offensively; nor has he ever been a head coach prior to this opportunity. All he knows is defense. Is that a good thing? Potentially, yes. But, the Browns’ biggest problems have been on offense and they are searching for an identity beyond the ridiculous performances put on by Josh Gordon. This team needs a quarterback. They need a running back. They need another complementary wideout. They just need to put up points.
So, is Pettine the right guy for the job? Right now, nobody knows. It doesn’t seem like they went with the logical route, but they most certainly could have done worse. Pettine has had legitimate success coaching defenses over the last five years, but will that be enough?