New Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine isn’t much for wearing suits or conducting press conferences, like the one to announce his hiring on Thursday.
The only kind of headlines Pettine concerns himself with center around what happens on the football field, and as he begins the next chapter of his coaching career, he wants those write-ups to include plenty of victories.
“I don’t think anything I can say or do today, or for that matter, up until September will matter,” Pettine said. “This is a bottom-line business, and it’s all about winning. I’m not into winning press conferences. I just want the Cleveland fans to know that we’re going to put a team out on the field that they can be proud of. It’s going to come down to the fall and winning football games.
“I have belief in the staff that we’re going to build, a belief in the players and I have a belief in the system that will be run here. The standards will be high. Players will be held accountable, and that formula has been applied in other places, and it has been successful.”
In doing his research about the opportunity in Cleveland, success is something Pettine saw, on an individual basis, from the Browns.
Pettine was attracted to the Browns’ coaching opening because of the talent that currently exists on the roster, and also, the chance to add more through free agency, which the team has reportedly more than $30 million to spend, as well as the draft, where Cleveland currently has 10 picks.
“There’s talent, and that’s evidenced by the number of Browns we have over in Hawaii (for the Pro Bowl) as we speak,” Pettine said. “It will be a big job for our staff to evaluate that roster, but the nice thing about it is there’s some definite talent here, young talent here, and we also have the ability to keep that talent here, and that’s one of the things that was most attractive about this job.
“(I have) confidence in the information that I gathered in how committed this franchise is to winning, and again, the confidence in myself and falling back to betting on me. There’s only 32 of these jobs in the world and these opportunities don’t come along often. I looked at the situation as, when you put all of the factors together, that this franchise is in position, given the right leadership, to win.”
Having spent seven seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Pettine knows what it takes to be successful in the AFC North Division. As such, he envisions a Browns football team that is tough, both physically and mentally, no matter the challenges or obstacles placed in front of the players.
“To compete in the AFC North, you have to be willing to bloody your nose a little bit,” Pettine said. “I think that’s the mentality that we’re going to take here. This team is going to be built on toughness.
“Most people think of toughness in just the physical sense, but I think, as important or more important is the mental toughness, 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 it’s the ‘Same old Browns’ and teams talk themselves into losing. That, to me, is the culture that needs to be changed here.”
By conditioning his players to be tough, Pettine expects the team to improve.
“We’re going to set high standards for our players,” Pettine said. “They’re going to be graded hard on every snap. Whether it’s a snap in practice or a snap in the game, they’ll be graded and graded hard. The standards will be high, and we’re going to hold those players accountable.
“From a scheme standpoint, that’s going to be based on the evaluation of the roster. I’ve always been of the mindset that you never fit your players to your system. You fit your system to your players. Once we hit the ground running and get the staff hired, the first task will be to evaluate the roster, from top to bottom, and see what we have here, what we do well and what holes we need to fill.”
When Pettine fills out his coaching staff and begins those evaluations, he will spend plenty of time on the quarterback position, as he knows that is one of the most important factors in having success on the football field.
“When you prioritize the positions in the National Football League, there’s the quarterback and then, there’s about 10 open spots,” Pettine said. “Then, you start talking about the next position. I’d be foolish, even being a defensive guy, to avoid that issue.
“I’m not going to be that defensive coach that says, ‘We’re going to win it on defense and run and we don’t need to have a great quarterback.’ To win in this league, you have to have a great quarterback, and that’s something we’re going to put our full focus and attention on.”