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Dawg Pound Journal: An inside look at Mike Pettine on the sideline


Showtime's Inside the NFL, possibly the best one hour football show on television, had the NFL Films crew wire Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine for sound during the Oakland Raiders game.

The two minute clip paints a vibrant picture of Pettine's duties patrolling the sidelines as the head man in charge. Some new head coaches who specialized in defense commonly sit back and let their experienced offensive coordinator pull all the strings. Football is a sport so compartmentalized, where some coaches feel they are intruding or even crippling the team if they heavily deal with both offense and defense.

Pettine isn't a coach who frets. He's involved in all facets, especially decisions that impact the pure management of a 60 minute football game. Inside the NFL aired an example of the 47-year-old's decision-making.

A war in the trenches was halted right in its track right when Donte Whitner forced a fumble, Brian Hoyer tossed a 32-yard completion to Andrew Hawkins and a Jim Dray raced right just short of the end zone on a 16-yard reception. Pettine approached his offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on the sideline. He knew a way the Browns could tally six points on the scoreboards.  

Pettine: "I say we run it."

Shanahan stares right at Pettine – a piercing moment of intensity, with a 4-3 record on the line. Pettine stares back saying nothing. Shanahan softly mutters "Alright," all while still glaring at Pettine.  The Browns head coach senses the energy. He decides to pull a decisive move.   

Pettine: "You know what, I trust you. Call your best play."

Seconds later, the Browns did not run the football, like Pettine had originally suggested. Shanahan barked a pass play call into Hoyer's helmet. Cleveland's quarterback found a gliding Hawkins and the end zone for his first career touchdown as a Brown.

One of the reasons the Browns are having success this season is Pettine's trust in his staff. While he's still ultimately responsible for the product on the field, Pettine lets his coordinators and position coaches do their jobs. He's balanced his power and given the staff creative freedom to impact the flow of games and pick outcomes that have also contributed to wins in Cleveland.

During his press conference on Wednesday, Pettine explained his coaching style when it comes to offering recommendations to Shanahan on Sunday's.

"There are times like before the half where I told [Shanahan] what I wanted to…when we had the procedure penalties," Pettine said. "He's the expert at it. He's studied them the most, and has the best feel for the plan. I'm not going to sit here and say that I know the offensive plan inside out and backward. He does it better, certainly, than I do and has a better feel for the game, but still I want to make sure that sometimes, as a play-caller, you get in that mode and you kind of lose the scope of the circumstances of the game. It's hard to manage a game being a play-caller.

"That's one of the reasons that (Browns defensive coordinator) Jim O'Neil is doing the vast majority of the defensive play-calling because it's hard to manage a game as a play-caller, and that's where I step in at times with Kyle to make sure he's aware of the situation or if I feel strongly about doing something a certain way, then I'll let him know that."

Other notable Pettine one-liners from the show

"Play good coverage, let our guys eat."

"Hey, there's blood in the water, boys."

"Billy Cundiff 9, Oakland Raiders 0."

"Let's go now! This is our chance to go up two scores."

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