Behind the veteran free agent acquisitions and the 12 new draft picks, there's one other large adaptation that occurred this offseason with the Cleveland Browns: head coach Mike Pettine is now focusing more of his time on the offense than the defense.
It's a story we’ve written about, and in terms of narratives going into the 2015 campaign, it could be paramount for success.
Now that administrative duties and the defensive scheme – firmly led by defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil – have been set, Pettine spends his mornings sitting in meetings with the offense.
"I feel very rejuvenated as a coach to be in there and be a part of it," Pettine said Friday at the Browns Foundation's annual golf outing. "(Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) and I are very much on the same page with where this offense is headed. I'm real excited to be a part of it."
Pettine's new role isn't just as a keen observer in the back of the classroom. The 47-year-old is rolling up his sleeves and putting on his creative hat – even creating flash cards for himself so he masters the system. Pettine has been involved in the entire big picture planning for Cleveland's new offense, drawing up certain concepts with current players on the roster.
Once the season rolls around, Pettine will be engaged in game-planning efforts, too, playing devil's advocate with his background in creating blitzes and elaborate coverage schemes.
"I have a good feel for NFL defenses having studied a lot of them," Pettine said. "Knowing the coaching trees and different styles and different rules – I think that's where I can be beneficial."
The broader strokes of Cleveland's offense have been discussed publicly. The Browns will continue to pound the rock with Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West and, now, Duke Johnson by keeping the zone running system intact. Playmakers will get the ball in different spots all over the football field.
But on an ideal Sunday, Cleveland won't be throwing the football 50 times a game. Without a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback on the roster, Pettine and DeFilippo didn't want to build an offensive system that relied solely upon a gunslinger making plays on third-and-long. It's a strategy that enticed free agent quarterback Josh McCown to choose Cleveland over Buffalo.
"It's a formula that's not the most common path," Pettine said. "People still try to be quarterback driven. I'm not saying we are going to be looking to win games 9-6. We still want to be explosive on offense. We just don't want to put our quarterback in situations where the percentages aren't there."