General Manager Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine talk about college prospects at the Browns' suite in Lucas Oil Stadium
INDIANAPOLIS – Mike Pettine is still settling in as coach of the Cleveland Browns, but he already has plans for what will appear on some of the walls at the team’s training facility in the near future.
It’s a saying that he and his assistant coaches plan to repeat often to the players: “Play like a Brown!”
“And of all those attributes that fall under that, none of that has anything to do with athletic ability,” Pettine said while here for the NFL Scouting Combine. “It's all about passionate, competitive, tough. Not just physically tough, but mentally tough, accountable. Those are the types of traits that we want to have. Those are the traits that make you last in the NFL. A lot of people have the athletic ability to make it in the NFL short term. We want guys that are going to make it in the NFL long term.
“Those are the traits, hopefully, we can find researching guys here.”
Pettine has long had an idea of what he thought an NFL player should look like. And he has since discovered that it is right in line with the view that new Browns general manager Ray Farmer has.
That has allowed them to quickly find common ground since Feb. 11, when Farmer was named the Browns’ GM … only a few weeks after Pettine was named head coach.
“I think one of the reasons that we've been able to get on the same page very quickly is because I think we have very much a shared vision of what a football team should look like,” Pettine said. “So when we sat down and started kind of going through the punch list of questions pertaining to a franchise, he and I were (together) right out of the gate. We didn’t have to stray far from what our core beliefs are.”
Farmer also was struck by how much he and Pettine had in common when it came to looking at a football team.
“Independently, I would say Coach Pettine and I had a lot of similarities behind what we thought a Brown or ‘playing like a Brown’ meant or what that looked like,” Farmer said. “Those similarities carry over. You talk about competitiveness, you talk about toughness, you talk about instincts, guys that play fast, guys that produce, guys that play relentlessly. All of those things are things that we kind of held independently that they just happened to match up.”
Both place tremendous value in qualities that aren’t as easy to measure as speed, strength, and agility – the basis of the drills in which most of the 300 college prospects here participate.
And they are qualities that require face-to-face interaction, which the Browns plan to have with 60 prospects (the maximum for which each club can request a 15-minute meeting) before the Combine ends on Tuesday.
“When you sit down with a player, you really want to find out two things: how much do they love football?” Pettine said. “Not what football does for them (financially). How much do they love football? And how much do they know? Can they just tell you what their position is? Can they tell you what the guys next to them do? Can they tell you what all 11 do?
“You get a feel for how passionate a player is by hearing him talk about his own team and the positions that he played and kind of his knowledge about the game in general.”
Farmer and Pettine recognize that they won’t agree on everything.
Disagreements between a GM and coach happen in even the most successful of such relationships. And they tend to be healthy, as long as the two sides eventually find a common ground.
“There will come a point in time when Coach Pettine will say, ‘I like Player A,’ and there will come a time that I say, ‘I like Player B,’” Farmer said. “What we need to decide is, who’s Player C that meets the criteria and he’s as good a player as Player A and B, and everybody agrees on him.
“That’s the goal, to find the ones that match up and we all agree on.”
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