Mike Pettine

Packers To Hire Mike Pettine As DC

The Packers will hire former Browns head coach Mike Pettine as their next defensive coordinator, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Mike Pettine

Pettine interviewed to replace Dom Capers earlier today, and head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t let the ex-Jets/Bills defensive coordinator leave the building. A long-time Rex Ryan disciple who — like Capers — runs primarily a 3-4 scheme, Pettine will now head to Green Bay after not coaching in the NFL in 2017.

The Packers’ decision to hire Pettine could have effects for not only the rest of the Green Bay defensive staff, but the coordinator market as a while. As PFR’s 2018 Coordinator Tracker shows, the Packers had considered three internal candidates — Winston Moss, Darren Perry, and Joe Whitt — as DC options, and reports have indicated some or all of that trio could now leave Green Bay after being passed over for a promotion.

McCarthy & Co. had expressed interest in external candidates, as well, and were thought to have considered Bears DC Vic Fangio their top target. Fangio, who’s drawn interest from multiple clubs, now remains on the coaching market, as does Chargers DC Gus Bradley, another Green Bay candidate. Speculatively, Fangio’s reported price tag of $2MM+ could have played a factor in the Packers taking a pass.

Pettine, 51, was a star high school coach who rose the coordinator ranks to become head coach of the Browns in 2014. After posting a surprising 7-9 record in his debut campaign, Pettine’s Cleveland squad fell to 3-13 the following season, and Pettine wasn fired. He interviewed for the Redskins’ defensive play-calling job last January but lost out to Greg Manusky.

Now that he’s under contract, Pettine could act quickly to form the remainder of his staff, especially if Moss, Perry, or Whitt leave. Former Browns and 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil should be expected to land a role on Pettine’s new coaching unit, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers To Interview Mike Pettine For DC Job

Former Browns head coach Mike Pettine will interview for the Packers’ defensive coordinator job on Tuesday, a league source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Pettine becomes one of five known candidates in the running for the gig, as shown on PFR’s Coordinator TrackerMike Pettine

Pettine spent last year as a defensive consultant for the Seahawks. In the fall, it was said that he would be one of Matt Nagy‘s top choices for defensive coordinator if he were to land a head coaching job. Now that Nagy is in Chicago, it’s possible that Pettine could wind up as a candidate for two different jobs in the same division.

Pettine first made a name for himself as a key defensive coach on the Ravens’ staff. When Rex Ryan left Baltimore for the Jets, he brought Pettine along as his DC. After a stint as Buffalo’s DC and Cleveland’s head coach, he’s once again a candidate for a coordinator job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Clayborn, 49ers, Lions

Falcons defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn was prepared to hang up the cleats last offseason, as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Clayborn suffered a torn biceps in Atlanta’s playoff win over the Seahawks in January, which marked the third time that he had endured a season-ending injury, and he was ready to retire rather than risk more pain and frustration. However, his fiancee (now wife) convinced him to give it another shot, and Atlanta is reaping the benefits. In addition to his otherworldly (and perhaps cathartic) six-sack performance against Dallas last week, Clayborn has rated as the 10th-best edge defender in the league (out of 110 qualifiers) per Pro Football Focus. He will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and he could be on the verge of a very nice payday.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • 2017 was always going to be a rebuilding year for the 49ers, and Cam Inman of the Mercury News offers his thoughts as to each current player’s future with the club. He suggests, for instance, that the team may prefer to let oft-injured Jimmie Ward test a soft free agent market but may want to re-sign fellow free agent-t0-be Daniel Kilgore.
  • Kyle Meinke of MLive.com says he would not be surprised if the Lions simply cut Eric Ebron this offseason. While Ebron is due an $8MM salary under the fifth-year option of his rookie contract, that salary is guaranteed for injury only, so Detroit could move on from him with no penalty (assuming, of course, he does not get hurt in the meantime). Theoretically, the two sides could attempt to work out some alternate arrangement — after all, Ebron would not get close to $8MM on the open market — but given that Ebron seemed anxious for a fresh start when his name was bandied about at the trade deadline, it sounds as if Ebron may be playing his last games as Lion.
  • In the same piece, Meinke says it is hard to imagine Lions head coach Jim Caldwell getting the axe after the season, even if the team fails to qualify for the playoffs. However, Meinke predicts that Detroit will let impending free agent center Travis Swanson, who has performed poorly this season, hit the open market while sliding Graham Glasgow from guard to center.
  • Ty Montgomery‘s re-aggravated rib injury is more painful than the original injury that he suffered earlier in the year, as ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweets. Anderson said the Packers running back, who will miss today’s contest against the Ravens, will try to practice later this week with the hopes of suiting up for Green Bay’s Week 12 game against Pittsburgh, but it does not sound particularly promising right now.
  • Mike Pettine, who is currently serving as a consultant with the Seahawks, would be one of Matt Nagy‘s top choices for defensive coordinator if Nagy lands a head coaching job this offseason, as Michael Lombardi of The Ringer tweets. Pettine served as the Browns’ head coach from 2014-15, and he was previously a defensive coordinator for the Jets and Bills. Nagy currently works as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator and is expected to be one of the hottest head coaching candidates in 2018.

Redskins Interviewed Mike Pettine For DC

Time to add another name to the list of Redskins defensive coordinator candidates. The team announced that they interviewed former NFL head coach Mike Pettine for the open position on Monday.

Pettine was the head coach of the Browns from 2014 through 2015, compiling a 10-22 record. Prior to his tenure in Cleveland, Pettine served as the defensive coordinator for the Bills and Jets. The 50-year-old had plenty of success during his stints in New York and Buffalo. As Stephen Czarda of Redskins.com notes, Pettine’s Jets defenses were responsible for an “NFL-low 71.0 quarterback rating, completion percentage (52.6 percent) and passing yards (186.3 per game)” during his four seasons with the organization. During his one season in Buffalo, Pettine helped the defense move from 22nd in yards allowed to 10th.

Former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is reportedly the Redskins’ main target for the gig. This isn’t very surprising considering the coach’s connection to many members of the Redskins organization. Bradley previously worked with general manager Scot McCloughan in Seattle, and he worked alongside head coach Jay Gruden and president Bruce Allen in Tampa Bay.

As our coordinator tracker shows, the Redskins are also set to interview Panthers associate head coach/defensive backs coach Steve Wilks. The team was denied permission to interview Bengals defensive coordinator Paul GuentherESPN.com’s John Keim reports that there hasn’t been any contact between the Redskins and Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

The Redskins fired former defensive coordinator Joe Barry last week. The team finished towards the bottom of the league in yards allowed during Barry’s two seasons in Washington.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sunday Roundup: Manning, 49ers, Norman

In a few hours, we will know which teams will be heading to San Francisco for Super Bowl 50. In the meantime, let’s dive into some news and notes from around the league:

  • Although the story has largely fallen out of mainstream coverage, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that the NFL is still reviewing the HGH allegations surrounding Broncos QB Peyton Manning and that the matter is not yet resolved.
  • Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that new 49ers head coach Chip Kelly has been very noncommittal in his comments regarding Colin Kaepernick, suggesting that Kelly is less excited about the prospect of having Kaepernick run his offense than one might think. It is especially strange that Kelly claimed he could not discuss how Kaepernick might fit into his offense because it was against NFL offseason rules, when in fact it is not against league rules to discuss a player who is under contract. Of course, Kelly’s comments could just be a reflection of his guarded, introverted personality, but the lack of enthusiasm is still somewhat surprising.
  • The 49ers are still looking for a new defensive coordinator, and per Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (via Twitter), the team is interested in former Browns DC Jim O’Neil. Former Browns head coach Mike Pettine has said he wants to take the 2016 season off.
  • Panthers CB Josh Norman, an impending free agent, is set to cash in on his terrific 2015 campaign, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (article via Conor Orr of NFL.com) observes, Norman will likely seek a contract in the Richard Sherman/Patrick Peterson neighborhood (both of whom recently signed deals with more than $40MM in guarantees). The Panthers could, of course, put the franchise tag on Norman–at a value of $13-14MM–but Carolina should have around $20MM in cap space and does not have many other high priority free agents to worry about.
  • Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that the Steelers must improve their secondary in the offseason, but the problem is that they have few internal options that they can reasonably rely upon. The team may be forced to open its checkbook, and Bouchette thinks it would be wise for the Steelers to re-sign Brandon Boykin. He also names Eric Weddle as an intriguing possibility.
  • According to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, one of the reasons the Jaguars handed a one-year extension to head coach Gus Bradley was to avoid a situation like the one Chuck Pagano recently faced in Indianapolis. Pagano’s expiring contract, of course, created a season-long distraction that Jacksonville hopes to avoid.
  • Jordan Raanan of NJ.com compared the Giants‘ roster to those of the four conference finalists, and in so doing, he discovered the biggest problem that the team faced in 2015 and may continue to face moving forward. Although the Giants do not have enough homegrown talent, and although they need to get more production from their first-round draft picks, the most significant concern the team faced relative to the league’s more successful franchises is that it did not get enough production from its highest-paid players. Big Blue got nothing, or next to nothing, from three of its highest-paid players–Victor Cruz, Will Beatty, and Jason Pierre-Paul–which will make for some interesting decisions in the offseason.

Coach Rumors: Caldwell, Eagles, Bucs, 49ers

Within the last couple days, most teams still seeking head coaches have made their decisions, even if they haven’t made those decisions official quite yet. The Giants and 49ers formally hired Ben McAdoo and Chip Kelly, respectively, while the Eagles and Buccaneers have reportedly settled on Doug Pederson and Dirk Koetter. Philadelphia will have to wait until Pederson’s Chiefs are eliminated from the postseason to officially bring him on board, while the Bucs and Koetter are said to be finalizing the terms of his deal.

The flurry of moves leaves the Titans as the only NFL team currently without a head coach, but that could change soon. Lions head coach Jim Caldwell remains on the hot seat in Detroit, and according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the team has yet to make a decision on its coach, despite the fact that Caldwell and new GM Bob Quinn have met “on at least four different occasions.”

With most head coaching vacancies filled, Quinn has the luxury of being patient in making his decision, particularly if he ends up targeting candidates that survive their playoff games this weekend. Still, he likely won’t want to leave Caldwell twisting in the wind for too long, so I’d expect a decision sooner rather than later.

As we wait to see what the Titans and Lions do with their head coaching positions, let’s check in on some Thursday updates on coaching staffs around the NFL….

  • With Doug Pederson lined up for the Eagles‘ head coaching job, there has been plenty of speculation today on his coordinators. Here’s a round-up of those rumors:
    • Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link) identifies in-house candidate Pat Shurmur and Chiefs assistant Brad Childress as possible offensive coordinators for Pederson.
    • Anthony Gargano of 97.5 The Fanatic (Twitter link) hears that Childress will likely become the Eagles’ new OC, though I expect the former Vikings head coach probably be a candidate for the same role in Kansas City. For what it’s worth, Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News tweets that Shurmur’s fate has not yet been decided.
    • On the other side of the ball, the Eagles have interest in Jim Schwartz as their defensive coordinator, though it’s not clear if he’s Pederson’s choice or the team’s, says Don Banks of SI.com (Twitter links). Banks adds that Schwartz has job offers as a defensive assistant from multiple teams.
    • Peter Schrager of FOX Sports (Twitter link) also identifies Schwartz as a DC candidate for the Eagles, while McLane tweets that Schwartz and Mike Pettine could both be names to watch.
  • With his odds of landing a head coaching job this year dwindling, former Falcons head coach Mike Smith is a candidate for the Buccaneers‘ defensive coordinator position, tweets Peter Schrager of FOX Sports.
  • Ryan Day, the Eagles‘ quarterbacks coach in 2015, is a name to watch as new 49ers head coach Chip Kelly considers his options for an offensive coordinator, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
  • If the Bengals decide to replace offensive coordinator Hue Jackson internally, longtime quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese is the most logical candidate, writes Tom Pelissero of USA Today.

Browns Links: Coaching/GM Search, Manziel, Thomas

The Browns have promoted executive vice president/general counsel Sashi Brown to executive VP of football operations, tweets ESPN’s Adam Caplan. Brown will join owner Jimmy Haslam, Dee Haslam (Jimmy’s wife), and consultant Jed Hughes in finding the club’s next head coach, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal (on Twitter) and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). The coach will then help them hire a general manager (Twitter link via Ulrich). The new GM will report to Brown and the coach will report to Haslam, according to Ulrich (via Twitter). The GM’s duties will center on talent acquisition and scouting, while Brown will handle the 53-man roster and salary cap (via Ulrich on Twitter).

More on the Browns as they embark on another new era:

  • Haslam acknowledged that the Browns are in for a long rebuild. Thus, they’ll add talent through the draft and, for the time being, avoid spending big on free agents (Twitter link via Ulrich).
  • A report Sunday night stated Jacksonville assistant Doug Marrone would be the first to interview for the Browns’ head coaching vacancy. However, Haslam shot down the notion of Marrone being first in line, according to Cabot (Twitter link). No word yet on whether the team will speak with Marrone.
  • The Browns will interview Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin for their head coaching opening in the coming days, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
  • Haslam informed previous GM Ray Farmer he was firing him before the Browns’ loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday, not after, reports Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link). Further, Haslam notifed the coaches of the Farmer and Mike Pettine firings via email, tweets Rapoport.
  • More Johnny Manziel drama, courtesy of Peter King of TheMMQB.com: The two-year veteran didn’t show up to concussion protocol at 9 a.m. Sunday, which is a team requirement even if the player is inactive. Moreover, Manziel was unreachable via phone when the Browns tried to contact him. King now doubts the quarterback will ever play another down for the Browns. The 2014 first-round pick would prefer to go to the Cowboys (Twitter links: 1; 2; 3).
  • Perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, who has been in Cleveland since it drafted him third overall in 2007, is unsure about whether he’ll be a Brown next season. “When there’s turnover in the coaching staff, a lot of good players end up leaving, a lot of good coaches leave,” he said, according to ESPN’s Tony Grossi. “There’s a lot of uncertainty when there’s turnover in the coaching staff. Certainly I could be one of them not here next year.” On whether he even wants to stay a Brown, Thomas stated, “I’ll have to wait and see what happens with everything next week.” Thomas had previously hoped Pettine would return, per Grossi. Whether Pettine’s firing affects Thomas’ relationship with the Browns remains to be seen. For what it’s worth, Thomas has three years and $29.5MM left on his contract, which contains no dead money.

Browns Fire Mike Pettine, Ray Farmer

6:14pm: The Browns have made the respective releases of Pettine and Farmer official. Haslam has issued a statement promising a “methodical” search to replace both (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of USA Today). They’ll get to work early in trying to fill the void of Pettine, according to ESPN’s Dianna Marie Russini, who tweets Cleveland will interview Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

4:53pm: Browns head coach Mike Pettine will meet with owner Jimmy Haslam at 7pm Eastern Time, at which point he is expected to be fired, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). General manager Ray Farmer met with ownership prior to today’s game, and he is also being fired, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

It comes as no surprise that Pettine’s tenure in Cleveland is over, as reports over the weekend indicated that his job was in severe jeopardy. The 49-year-old ends his two-year Browns career with a 10-21 record, and the fact that the club backslid from a 7-9 mark in 2014 to a 3-13 record this Dec 13, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine watches the video board during players introductions against the San Francisco 49ers at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns defeated the 49ers 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sportsseason can’t have helped his case. Perhaps most striking was the club’s defensive performance — Pettine, a former defensive coordinator with the Jets and Bills, oversaw a unit that finished 31st in defensive DVOA.

For the Browns, Pettine’s dismissal only adds to the level of dysfunction and frustration that the club has experienced since the organization returned to Cleveland in 1999. Pettine is the fourth consecutive Browns coach to fail to last more than two seasons, and no Cleveland head coach has lasted more than four years since that ’99 return. The team will now be hiring its fifth head coach since the 2009 season.

Farmer, 41, also leaves Cleveland after two seasons at the helm as general manager (he spent the 2013 season as assistant GM). It’s hard to paint a positive picture of Farmer’s time with the Browns, though some draft picks (Joel Bitonio) and free agent signings (Andrew Hawkins, Josh McCown) did work out. But for the most part, Farmer failed in both areas of player procurement, handing $9MM in guaranteed money to receiver Dwayne Bowe (who has five receptions on the year) and using first-round picks on Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert.

Cleveland’s record of general manger hires is nearly as rocky as its success with head coaches. The Browns will now be hiring their sixth GM since the 2005 season, and have to hope that their next candidate has a longer tenure than Farmer. Ownership has given very little rope in terms of GMs, as George Kokinis and Michael Lombardi each lasted only one season, while Farmer last just two.

Browns Likely To Fire Mike Pettine, Ray Farmer

SATURDAY, 8:22pm: The Browns are expected to fire both Pettine and Farmer, perhaps as early as Sunday night, according to Cabot. Haslam has already begun the process of finding replacements and could start scheduling interviews tomorrow night.

SATURDAY, 8:45am: According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Pettine explicitly asked Haslam whether he’d be retained for next season. The owner reportedly refused to answer.

“Pettine actually asked him, ‘Have you made a decision about my future?’ And Haslam would not answer, and that essentially ended that meeting,” Rapoport said on NFL Network (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com).

FRIDAY, 8:18pm: Browns staffers came out of a Friday meeting with head coach Mike Pettine with the sense that he’ll be fired in the coming days, sources told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Sources also indicated owner Jimmy Haslam informed Pettine that a decision won’t be made until Monday, one day after the 3-12 Browns end their season against AFC North rival Pittsburgh.

Further, a move in the personnel department Monday could precede a possible Pettine firing. That would put second-year general manager Ray Farmer in jeopardy, as Cabot reports. During their run as GM and coach, Farmer and Pettine have combined to lead the Browns to a 10-21 mark. Haslam preached stability regarding both jobs over the summer, but that was before a disastrous 2015-16 campaign that will likely force him to make major changes.

Regardless of whether Farmer or someone else is the Browns’ GM, there will be obstacles standing in the way of finding a quality Pettine replacement. Cabot points to a lack of past stability with Browns coaches, plenty of other openings around the NFL, and the absence of a franchise quarterback as issues Cleveland will have to overcome. Since Haslam took over the team in 2012, he has already fired two head coaches. Pettine would be the third, and Haslam’s perceived trigger-happy nature in firing coaches might scare off candidates this year.

AFC Rumors: Dolphins, Browns

The latest on a couple of AFC teams that are on the cusp of major overhauls:

  • Doug Marrone and Jim Schwartz were the head coach and defensive coordinator, respectively, of a 2014 Bills team that finished 9-7. They could reunite soon in the same roles for the AFC East rival Dolphins, multiple sources have told the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero (Twitter link). Marrone, who is currently an assistant in Jacksonville, was the Jets’ offensive line coach in 2002-05. Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum was also with the Jets then, as Salguero notes (on Twitter), so Tannenbaum and Marrone are familiar with one another. Further, the Tannenbaum-led Dolphins reached out to Schwartz earlier this season when the team fired defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.
  • In other important Dolphins news, they could soon name director of college scouting Chris Grier their next general manager, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. They’ll first have to fire current GM Dennis Hickey, which appears likely. If the Dolphins do ax Hickey, they’ll be able to quickly promote Grier – a minority candidate – instead of having to follow the Rooney Rule process.
  • Significant changes to both the Browns’ front office and coaching staff seem imminent, as the team is expected to fire general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine. As a result, names that will be connected to the club in the coming days include Adam Gase, Tom Cable and the aforementioned Doug Marrone as head coaching candidates and Green Bay executive Eliot Wolf as a GM possibility (via ESPNCleveland.com’s Tony Grossi on Twitter). Interestingly, if the Browns hire Gase, their quarterback next season could be Peyton Manning, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Gase and Manning worked closely together in Denver from 2012-14.