Mike Pettine Hired as Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2014

USA Today

The Cleveland Browns announced they have finally found their new head coach:

The team has hired Mike Pettine, who arrives after spending one season as the defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, to replace Rob Chudzinski.

Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer initially reported the news.

Browns CEO Joe Banner says the deal is for five years, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal:

However, Cabot reported on Saturday that the contract length might not be five years after all:

Cabot provides Banner's thoughts on the hiring process:

Cabot also passes along Pettine's impression of quarterback Brian Hoyer:

NFL Around The League provides this quote from Pettine, who speaks about playing in the AFC North:

Pettine talks a bit about Cleveland's fans, who haven't exactly had it easy rooting for a team that has underperformed in recent years:

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports Pettine is already targeting candidates for his coordinator positions:

The hiring doesn't come as a major surprise. Cabot reported the Browns were bringing the 47-year-old coach in for a second interview, and if everything went well he could be offered the job.

Apparently, Pettine said all the right things because the Browns decided he was the answer.

NFL Network's Albert Breer alluded to that notion:

Before joining the Bills, the defensive-minded coach also spent time with the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens at the NFL level.

As defensive coordinator with New York, he helped lead a unit that ranked in the top 10 of total defense four years in a row from 2009 to 2012, including the No. 1 ranking in his first year. In his first year with the Bills, Buffalo ranked as a top-10 defense.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam talked about Pettine, per NFL: AroundTheLeague on Twitter:

This will mark his first opportunity to serve as a head coach in the pros. He did serve as a head coach at the high school level in Pennsylvania during the early portion in his coaching career, but that's obviously a long way from the NFL.

While questions are going to get raised about Pettine's fit in Cleveland, it's clear the Bills are going to miss him. Mike Rodak of ESPN notes the defense made key strides in his first season in Buffalo:

Pettine was one of the few candidates left for the Cleveland head-coaching position after several decided to opt out.

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels removed his name from consideration in early January (via Schefter) and Adam Gase of the Denver Broncos did the same after his current team clinched a Super Bowl berth (via NFL.com).

The quick hook given to Chudzinski was probably a primary reason for the timid interest. He was let go after one season in which the Browns went 4-12. Despite the lackluster record, most coaches expect more than a single season to generate a turnaround.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 22: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns carries the football during the first quarter of the game on September 22, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hanna
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Pettine addressed Chudzinski's prompt firing in his press conference, via Vic Carucci of the Cleveland Browns:

Pettine knows what it takes to rebuild a defense. The Bills ranked 22nd in yards allowed in 2012 but jumped all the way up into the top 10 under Pettine. With the Browns, he can enjoy similar success while working to fix an entire team.

Bleacher Report's Aaron Nagler shared his thoughts on the hire:

Ultimately, the coaching search took several twists and turns, but Cleveland hopes it settled on somebody who can get the team back into the playoffs in the near future. As a graphic from the NFL on ESPN shows, it's been quite some time since it qualified for the postseason:

The Browns do have two first-round picks in this year's draft (Nos. 4 and 26), which should help expedite the process under their new head coach. The front office still can't expect immediate results, though.

It's going to take some time to see if Pettine is up to the task.