Mike Pettine agrees to become Browns coach

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Mike Pettine is the latest Browns head coach. (USATSI)
Mike Pettine is the latest Browns head coach. (USATSI)

Mike Pettine has agreed to become the Browns coach, the team announced Thursday.

"We are thrilled to announce Mike Pettine as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns," owner Jimmy Haslam said. "Mike is the epitome of what we want the Browns to be -- tough, aggressive and innovative -- with a blue-collar, team-first mentality. He knows what's necessary to beat teams in the AFC North. Most importantly, Mike has repeatedly shown the ability to lead his players to consistent improvement and success, clearly what we are striving for as he leads the Cleveland Browns moving forward."

CEO Joe Banner added: "We wanted to be thorough from the start, and we interviewed as many people as we could. From that group, we hired the best individual for this job. Our players and fans are going to really enjoy Mike Pettine and his leadership style. We're excited to have him out in front of our team, and we look forward to working closely with him."

League sources tell CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora that Pettine is very high on Bills linebackers coach Jim O'Neil as his new defensive coordinator, while Browns special teams coach Chris Tabor is very likely to remain in that role. Pettine had also identified Packers running backs coach Alex Van Pelt as his top offensive coordinator candidate but sources tell La Canfora that Van Pelt has agreed to stay with Green Bay as their quarterback coach, replacing Ben McAdoo.

Pettine had his first interview with the Browns last week, and a second interview Tuesday. On Wednesday, it was reported that the organization also interviewed Greg Schiano, who was fired by the Buccaneers earlier this month.

Pettine just concluded his first season as the Bills' defensive coordinator after serving in that same role under Jets coach Rex Ryan from 2009-2012. Prior to that, Pettine was a Ravens assistant from 2008-2009.

The Browns fired Rob Chudzinski earlier this month, days after the team finished 4-12 and less than a year after he was hired. And last week, Haslam asked fans to be patient while the team searched for Chudzinski's replacement.

On Tuesday, former Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, who still has friends on the team, said that several former teammates were embarrassed Chudzinski's firing after just one season with the team.

"I talked to some of the players right after they fired Chud and they sounded deflated, confused and frankly embarrassed by what happened," Fujita said, via Cleveland.com. "I've been out of football for a year now and I'm a fan of the Cleveland Browns. It's hard to watch what is going on there. I really feel bad for the fans and players like D'Qwell (Jackson) and Joe Thomas who have been there for so long. ...

"Right now, it seems like they are a rudderless ship," Fujita continued. "(CEO) Joe Banner does not have the best reputation with some players and coaches. It makes you wonder if there will be a trickle-down effect."

Before the organization hired Pettine, at least three candidates reportedly withdrew their names from consideration for the job: Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase. And another candidate, Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, took the Giants offensive coordinator job.

 
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