The Cleveland Browns Thursday named Mike Pettine as the 15th full-time head coach in franchise history.
Pettine joins the Browns after spending 2013 as the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills and the 2009-12 seasons as the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets. Pettine has helped his units to a top 10 finish in total defense in all five of his seasons as a defensive coordinator.
“We are thrilled to announce Mike Pettine as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” said Owner Jimmy Haslam. “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.”
“We wanted to be thorough from the start,” said CEO Joe Banner, “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.”
During his season in Buffalo, Pettine implemented an aggressive defense that set a franchise record with 57 sacks, second-most in the NFL in 2013 after finishing tied for 18th in the league with 36 in 2012. Buffalo was the only team to have three players record double-digits sacks, with DE Mario Williams leading the team and finishing fourth in the NFL with 13.
Under Pettine, the Bills defense finished 10th (333.4) in the NFL in total defense, after finishing 22nd (362.9) in 2012. Buffalo also led the NFL in opponent completion percentage (55.3), finished second in interceptions (23), third in opponent quarterback rating (74.9), fourth in passing defense (204.4), sixth in yards per play (4.90) and tied for sixth in takeaways (30).
Pettine helped mentor FS Jairus Byrd, DT Marcell Dareus, DT Kyle Williams and Mario Williams to 2014 Pro Bowl selections. Byrd and Mario Williams were also both selected second team Associated Press All-Pro.
Pettine also oversaw the development of second-round pick Kiki Alonso, a linebacker who was named the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year, and was the only defensive finalist for the 2013 Pepsi Next NFL Rookie of the Year award, which will be announced Feb. 1.
During his four years with New York, the Jets defense over those combined seasons ranked first in the NFL in opposing quarterback rating (71.0), completion percentage (52.6) and passing yards per game (186.3). The Jets defense yielded the second-fewest yards per game (294.8) and allowed just nine 100-yard receiving games from 2009-2012, fewest in the league.
Pettine helped CB Darrelle Revis to multiple Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections. DE Shaun Ellis and DT Kris Jenkins also made the Pro Bowl under Pettine’s guidance.
During his first season as defensive coordinator in 2009, Pettine helped the Jets lead the NFL in points per game (14.8), total yards per game (252.3) and passing yards per game (153.7).
Prior to joining the Jets, Pettine spent seven years (2002-08) with the Baltimore Ravens. In his last four seasons with the Ravens, he coached the outside linebackers as part of a defensive unit that ranked fifth (2005), first (2006), sixth (2007) and second (2008) in the NFL. He helped Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas to Pro Bowl selections.
Before being promoted to position coach, Pettine worked with the line as a defensive assistant in 2004 after serving two years (2002-03) as a coaching assistant/quality-control coach. In those roles, he helped develop playbooks, scouting reports and video analysis for the defensive coaching staff.
Prior to joining the NFL ranks, Pettine was the head coach at North Penn High School in Towamencin, Pa., from 1997-2001. He led the school to 45 wins in five seasons, including an 11-2 record in 1999. He also served as the head coach for two years at William Tennent High School in Warminster, Pa., where he led the team to a school-record nine wins in 1996.
Pettine also spent two seasons (1993-94) on the college level, serving as a defensive graduate assistant at Pittsburgh.
His father, Mike, Sr., was the head coach for 33 years at Central Bucks West High School in Doylestown, Pa., where Pettine played under his father and earned all-state honors as a quarterback and defensive back. He later served as an assistant coach on his father’s staff for five seasons (1988-92). Mike Sr., retired as a head coach after the 1999 campaign as the winningest coach in the history of Pennsylvania high school football with a career record of 326-32-4.
Pettine was a two-year letterman as a free safety at Virginia. He led the team in interceptions in 1986, including tying a school record with three in one game against North Carolina State. He graduated with a degree in economics.