The Honeymooner

We have had our time to make our first impressions about Mike Pettine. Seems like a guy who fits our fan base mentality. Blue collar, hard worker, knows the ins and outs of football. The honeymoon is almost over, a staff is mostly assembled, and draft strategy is being formed and finalized. How will we grade Coach Pettine?

Performance over Personality

Sure, he is a likable guy. But can he win games? Winning is everything in this hyper-competitive league. It matters more than personality.

Do you think that San Francisco fans cares about how dorky Jim Harbaugh looks like with his old man reading glasses, khakis, and pen hanging on his shirt? No: he has taken the 49ers to three consecutive NFC championship games and one Super Bowl.  And even he, like all multi-millionaires, buys his khakis at WalMart with the common man:

Jim Harbaugh WalMart

Do you that Pats fan loathe the flat, borderline sociopathic personality of Bill Belichick? No: he continues to win, repeatedly producing winning seasons and come-from-behind victories with a roster that is not filled with the talent it had a decade ago. Though I still regard him as the Dexter of the NFL with the personality of a moth, he still wins:

Bill Belichick Lets Party

What matters is wins. Personality counts, but talk is cheap and overly abundant in the NFL. The upcoming draft will give some insight into where Pettine (or more likely Pettine controlled by Joe Banner) plans on taking this team.  The front office should give Pettine some room and have him develop the day-to-day operations the way he sees fit.

The Most Important Hire: QB

The quarterback is the most important hire. For too many years, the Cleveland Browns have passed on high first round picks for low first round or second round picks. The most recent example is Robert Griffin III. Ever since Tim Couch, the Cleveland Browns selection process has been very risk-adverse, refusing to spend much capital to acquire the likes of Andrew Luck. Sure, not all great QBs are selected in the first round. Two of the most talented young receivers were not first round selections: Russell Wilson was selected in the third round and Colin Kappernick was selected in the second round. However, we have tried the strategy time and again of drafting mid-tier QBs with horrid results. As a fan base we do not have the patience nor the inclination to try and develop another moderate QB. The QB is the most important position in the game, and our franchise needs to start allocating the necessary resources to obtain and develop a great QB.

In my opinion, Johnny Manziel is worth the gamble. And if he is a bust then what is the worst outcome: another 4-12 or 5-11 season? The franchise has hit the reset button by firing C.H.U.D after just one season, so why not go for it? Pettine was brought in for a new direction, so they should go for it and make some bold moves this offseason. Even if as a fan base we disagree on whether Manziel is worth the hype, we still need to shoot for the stars and pick a top rate QB come April.

Pettine just needs to follow one simple rule to not go afoul of Brown’s fans: A.B.W. (Anybody But Weeden). I could tolerate another season of watching sub-par QB. But if I have to endure watching Weeden try and do another high toss near the line of scrimmage while being tackled, I am just going to snap. Cue the Benny Hill music:



5 Reasons Mike Pettine Will Succeed

I would like to say that I wasn’t a supporter of the Chud firing. The front office basically gave the man a type writer and axed him because he couldn’t send e-mails with it. Fast forward 6 weeks and we have Mike Pettine. A hard-nosed, gritty, blue-collar head coach that holds his players accountable. So, on to the reasons that I think he’s the man who will ride in on the white horse and lead this team out of the NFL cellar.


This is a word that I’m not positive was in Chuds vocabulary.  Had Mike Pettine been the coach last year Devon Bess would have been at home dropping instagram bombs with the devils lettuce by mid-season.  I understand that Chud was a players coach, but to march that guy on the field week after week was about as bad a move as he made all year.  This can not, and will not happen with Pettine.

     3-4 Defense,  I would have literally pulled what remaining hair i have, out of my head, if we would have hired Quinn.  Not so Much because he’s a bad coach, but to go from a 4-3 defense in 2012 to a 3-4 in 2013 back to a 4-3 in 2014 is the definition of dysfunctional. this team blossomed in a 3-4 defense until they seemed to give up at the end of the year. Players like Mingo, Krueger, and hopefully Ward will flourish in Pettines attacking Defense. It should be a seamless transition.

     Josh Gordon, if this guy keeps his nose clean he could be the next coming of Jesus Christ to Cleveland Browns fans. No matter who is throwing the ball next year, Flash Gordon will be the key to offensive success.He is a fast, 6’5, flat-out red zone MONSTER. Whoever is taking snaps next year ( from whoever is snapping the ball for that matter) will benefit greatly from this once a decade talent. Line up Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans on the opposite side and dare i say it…. Playoffs.

     6 Probowlers,  Is it just me or does this team closely resemble the Kansas City Chiefs (minus Jamal Charles) last year? New coach, multiple pro bowlers the previous year, and the biggest thing of all, a fresh start.  This team is a bona-fide QB away from being a serious playoff contender. if Brian Hoyer doesn’t get hurt last year I’m not sure I am even writing this blog now. It’s all on the front office now to make the right decisions and get a QB in here that can take us to the promise land. We have the roster to do it Browns fan, we just need a field general.

 10 Draft picks, I know we haven’t had the best luck in the draft lately, especially the lower rounds, but this year things need to change. Having 10 picks, 5 of which are in the top 100, should at the very least add some much-needed depth to a roster that could be losing 2 pro bowlers to free agency. If the front office wants to turn this thing around and stop passing the blame, they need to hit on these early draft picks.  I know I’m not making the picks but i would rather have Sammy Watkins than Johnny (college) “Football”.  Call me a homer but i would really love to see them draft Carlos Hyde in the 2nd or 3rd. The guy has undeniable talent and this team needs a thunder to Dion Lewis’ lightning.

Whatever they do in this years draft and free agency i hope it works out. The browns are becoming a hard sell to my 7 and 5-year-old children who have hardly seen a glimmer of hope in their short time here on earth.    I will not stand for a Squeeler fan in my immediate family. So please, Mr. Haslem and company, do whatever it takes to save me the embarrassment of my child coming home in black and yellow one day.

Mike Who?

As soon as the Browns introduced Mike Pettine as the 15th head coach in franchise history, mostly everyone was thinking “Who is this guy?”. Just like Rob Chudzinski, no other team interviewed him as a candidate for the head coaching vacancy. As a Browns fan you are thinking the worse as most of us do. Pettine’s appearance has been compared to look like WWE’s “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Vin Diesel, and Pawn Stars Rick Harrison. Hopefully Pettine can open up a can of “whoop ass” when the Browns face the division rivals (the Bengals, Steelers, Ravens) and can strike a deal with a franchise Quarterback.

As a fan, you get tried of consistently hearing; “Oh, there’s always next year” One thing Pettine did say was that impressed me was that he “isn’t in Cleveland to win press conferences”, he wants to win football games. Pettine seems like a smash-mouth type of coach who holds his players accountable but wants to win, but doesn’t every coach that comes to Cleveland? When you hire a former Baltimore Ravens assistant, the eyebrows tend to go up due to the fact of the Brown’s leaving in 1995 and moving to Baltimore.

No matter who the Coach, Owner, General Manager, President, or Quarterback; Browns fans tend to hear the same two words: Next Year. This time though, the Brown’s may have finally got it right. You have a guy who knows how to build a great defense, a great NFL draft coming up where more then likely end of with a “Franchise Quarterback”, Improving young players who have had time to adjust to the NFL, but the best of all, New score boards and stadium seating. Let’s just say no matter what they do to the stadium, that doesn’t help a NFL team win but it makes spending $200 for tickets to a game a little bit better. Overall, I think every Brown’s fan and every person in the world would like to see the Brown’s get better. It’s crazy how much these people get paid to put a 4-12 team on the field every year. As a coach, no matter what level of talent you have you should be able to alter your game plane to best fit your players. One thing that Mike Pettine really hit on the nail in my eyes was when he said that he would evaluate the players and find a scheme that would best fit the team. Now that’s a coach who wants to win and is willing to alter his game plan to win football games. As a die hard Brown’s fan, I hope they can get the act together and put out a team that is deserving to make the playoffs. Like always, Go Brown’s.

Payton is a writer for Dawg Pound Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @paytondearth

Gus Malzahn, the Browns Last, Desperate Hope

Oh Browns.  Could you have done anything more Cleveland Brownesqe than fire your “hand picked’ head coach after less than twelve months on the job, and NOT have any idea who your replacement would be?  Could there be a better sign of dysfunction and failure than this?  We’re left here in January, coach-less, and the store where you go to buy Head Coaches is starting to look like a Best Buy at 6 pm on Black Friday.  The shelves are getting bare, and before much longer you’re going to have to just chalk it and pay full price for a less model.  I read somewhere that the Browns remaining list of candidates looks like a yard sale on its last day.  That’s pretty accurate at this point.

As the Browns continue their search for their next “THE GUY” who they will assure us is a visionary leader who will lead our beloved franchise back from decades of irrelevance and painful to endure seasons, the list of candidates is getting pretty thin, and frankly pretty weak.  With fans whipping themselves in a frenzy for the beloved name of Jim Tressel to be named as a coaching interviewee, the list of candidates the Browns are actually going to, or will probably interview is going to look mighty bleak to Browns fans by comparison.

I try and give you realistic perspectives on things.  So I’m going to tell you, point blank, I don’t think there is a chance in hell that Jim Tressel will be your next head coach.  I don’t think the Browns are even going to extend an interview offer to him.  We’ve got to get past the “If it works at Ohio State it MUST work in Cleveland” thing anyhow.  Kenny Guiton isn’t a viable QB option, nor Braxton Miller, nor Pryor or any other Buckeye that we loved.  Ohio State is a different animal than the Browns.  We’ve got to stop the madness, because really, we’re trying to mix oil with water.

Now, knowing Tressel is off the board, let’s take a look at other guys who’ve fallen by the wayside as we’ve moved along here: James Franklin (Going to Penn State), Bob Stoops, Josh McDaniels (thank Christ actually).  First, let’s be honest with ourselves.  Those aren’t names that get any of us even remotely excited.  They’re names that would likely have made us groan if we had read that they were being announced as the next Cleveland Browns head coach.  Those aren’t names that we want to hear, we want to hear unrealistic names like Cowher and Gruden (Jon).  We want to feel excited.  We want a savior.

More reality friends.  There’s only one savior type coach left on the board.  There’s only one guy left who makes any sense considering the direction the front office is rumored to be heading (read: Johnny Football).  That guy, the only actual THE GUY left out there, is Gus Malzahn.

Gus went from a High School head coach, to Auburn Head Coach, to a National Championship game in eight short years.  That’s impressive, regardless if the naysayer will mock him as a high school coach.  Those people are idiots.  If you know anything about the situation that Gus took over at Auburn, and how unbelievably impressive it is that he made them a relevant program, no less got them to a NC game, you know why people who know what they’re talking about respect the man.  He’s fixed, in under 24 months, a program that had become as broken, crooked and dysfunctional as any program outside of Miami in the past 20 years.  Easily.  And he did it with energy, with passion, with gusto.  As importantly, for those of us who adhere to the old ways of the Dawg Pound, he did it with hard work and integrity.  Gus is squeaky clean, unlike his predecessor at Auburn, and it’s real.  He’s the real deal.

But outside of the reasons why you should like Gus Malzahn the Man, you should love Gus Malzahn the coach.  It’s impossible to question his football acumen, and his results on the field speak for themselves.  That, and its a brand of football that Browns fans should LOVE.  It’s built on pounding down opposing defenses with a crushing running game, and blazing speed and big plays on the outside.  While I do usually shy away from drafting OSU players in Cleveland, if you gave Gus a backfield of Carlos Hyde, Dion Lewis and the emergent Edwin Baker, they would run holes into any defense.  Pair him with a QB like Brian Hoyer, and yes, maybe even Johnny Manziel, and they would sprint down the field.  Give him a weapon like Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and one of the premier WR’s in this draft, and the Browns would start to look like a track team on Sundays.

Gus has the goods, but its still a long shot that he’ll leave Auburn.  The Browns would have to do some serious work to get him.  They’ll have to overpay, rightfully, because of all the past failures around coaches in the organization.  They’d have to swallow the arrogance that they’ve so often displayed under this regime, and give Gus the keys to all the doors in Berea.  They’d have to let him have final say on players and personnel, they’d have to not question his decisions, and they’d have to trust the man driving the Gus Bus.  But isn’t that what we’ve cried out for for YEARS?  A strong, decisive leader who will passionately change the way the world looks at Cleveland Browns football?

Get on the Gus Bus Browns fans.  Drop the Tressel nonsense, stop asking for Cowher.  Get on the Gus Bus, put some media pressure on the front office, and let’s turn this mother around, for good.


Josh McDaniels Early Favorite In Browns Head Coach Search

Sources have told DPN that Josh McDaniels is the Cleveland Browns inside favorite to take the reigns as the new Head Coach, in the wake of the sudden dismissal of former Head Coach Rob Chudzinski.

McDaniels has connections to both Browns GM Michael Lombardi and Joe Banner, and sources inside the Browns front office tell us that he is their hands down favorite.

That being said, the Browns cannot interview him until after January 5th, and could have to wait longer due to the Patriots playoff games.  Also, there are rumors that McDaniels may not be interested in the job in Cleveland.