Browns coach Mike Pettine, who was the Jets' defensive coordinator under Rex Ryan from from 2009-2012, said recently that Ryan would give out the team's playbook "like candy" and wasn't surprised to learn that the Patriots had a copy.
“[Ryan] gave one out to [Alabama coach Nick] Saban," Pettine told TheMMQB.com's Greg Bedard. "And I was like, ‘Don't you know Saban and Bill [Belichick] are pretty good friends? I have a feeling it's going to end up in New England.'”
Ryan later confirmed that he had given Saban a copy, but said that it was "disrespectful to the Patriots to say they had a playbook." He added that "everyone needs to talk to Mike Pettine 'cause he's got all the answers."
Wherever the truth lies, here's the thing: Playbooks are everywhere.
Anybody want a look at Andy Reid's playbook. Here goes. There are no secrets. http://t.co/SCaLEmpdEM— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) June 20, 2014
On Friday, after the story had some 24 hours to percolate, Pettine explained what it would mean to have another team's playbook in your possession.
“Most playbooks are very broad,” Pettine told ProFootballTalk. “We'll have 80 [defensive formations] in a playbook, 30 in a game plan. We'll add six or seven new ones for a given game.”
Pettine also said he wasn't accusing the Pats of stealing the playbook, and even admitted that it's not uncommon for playbooks to make their way onto the internet (see above). That said, there is some value in having them.
“It's a credit that [the Patriots] have been able to get that information,” he said. “I didn't mean to imply it was gathered illegally. ... To me, it's a sign of a smart team. We're not actively pursuing playbooks, but when they fall in your laps, you'll study it.”
The point of Pettine's story about the Pats ending up with the Jets playbook? It's important to keep the information in general terms.
“We're all in the business of gathering information,” Pettine said. “If I can get someone's blueprint for how they build their offense or defense, of course I'm going to look at it.”