Jeff Phelps Offers His Thoughts On Mike Pettine

By JEFF PHELPS, of Baskin & Phelps Weekdays 10 am-2pm on 92.3 The Fan

Thoughts on Mike Pettine’s introductory press conference, after being named head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Things I liked:

Pettine said the words I most love to hear from a football coach – that he wasn’t going to talk about what “systems” he would run, because (wait for it)….. he believes you fit a system to your players, and not your players to a system. Thank you. Thank you very much. A guy who actually wants to coach players, not just plug them into something that worked with different players somewhere else.

Thought Pettine’s background is on the defensive side of the ball, his thoughts about the quarterback position were spot on: “I’m not going to be that defensive coach that says, ‘Listen, we’re going to win it on defense and we’re going to run, and we don’t need to have a great quarterback.’ To win in this league you must have a great quarterback and that’s something we’re going to put our full focus and attention on.”

I was impressed with Pettine’s realistic approach to the Browns head coaching job. Let’s just say we all know it comes with a unique set of challenges, with some of those challenges perhaps scaring off other candidates. Pettine said this about accepting a challenging position: “Again, confidence in the information that I gathered of how committed this franchise is to winning, and again, the confidence in myself. Again, falling back to betting on me. There’s only 32 of these jobs in the world and these opportunities don’t come along often. People ask me, ‘Why didn’t you wait? There will be chances next year.’ I don’t know if I believe in that. Again, 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 guy is getting his shot, and he’s smart enough to realize that it may not come along again. Think Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter wishes he had pursued the job a bit harder last year? He wanted it this year and the Browns didn’t want him. Pettine is taking his shot, and betting on himself. Like it.

Pettine said he wasn’t comfortable at all in a suit in the press conference setting. After watching the entire press conference, I believe him. But I thought he handled himself admirably. Pettine doesn’t have to win over anything or anybody. He just has to put a competitive team on the field come September and win more games than he loses. And fast.

Is Mike Pettine the right guy at the right time? Who knows.

Things I didn’t like:

We heard so much of the same type of talk a year ago, when Rob Chudzinski was given his first opportunity to be a head coach. Only difference? Offensive coordinator compared to Pettine being a defensive guy. The Browns are taking another shot at the exact same type of candidate. So much for making a big splash.

I still believe Chud deserved more time, and would have succeeded with the Browns, perhaps even as soon as next year.

Pettine needs time. If he doesn’t get, he won’t be the only one in Berea cleaning out an office a year or two from now.

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