The Cleveland Browns head coaching search has been a wild one, and we’ve seen a multitude of both college and NFL coaches mentioned as potential candidates. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Denver Broncos OC Adam Gase were favorites of the Browns at points, but both decided to stick with their elite franchises- and QBs- in more stable conditions. Since then, the Browns have turned their focus to defense-minded head coaches instead, largely because those are the best coaches available. Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn looked like the favorite at one point, but a different defensive coordinator has emerged as the clear favorite over the past couple of days.
It was reported yesterday that Buffalo Bills DC Mike Pettine had become the favorite to win the Browns head coaching gig, and a deal was already close to being done yesterday. Pettine isn’t a huge name, but he’s honestly the best candidate available for the Browns. Heck, he’s one of the best and most underrated coordinators in the league. Not only did he a great job while with the New York Jets, but he did an even better job with the Buffalo Bills last season and immediately made them better despite changing their defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Pettine is a mastermind with the 3-4, which is the scheme the Browns run, and his blitz packages are superb.
Maybe more importantly, Pettine is as good as they come on the defensive side of the ball at developing players, and he turned talented, former first-round picks Leodis McKelvin (though I never truly considered him a bust due to the strides he made in 2012) and Jerry Hughes into excellent pieces of the Bills defense this past season.
Per league sources close to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, the Browns are expected to offer their head coaching job to Pettine, but both sides still need to work out terms of a deal before Pettine can be hired. There’s little doubt that Pettine deserves this promotion, but it will be interesting to see who he brings in as an offensive coordinator; that will be a critical hire.