- Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator in 2013 was a Dick Lebeau disciple who loved the blitz.
The latest candidate to interview for the team’s vacant coaching spot is a Rex Ryan disciple who loves the blitz.
Mike Pettine will interview with the Browns on Thursday.
He becomes the seventh coach to meet with Cleveland, the second defensive coordinator and the most recent unexpected interview. The Browns say they are being methodical about their search, but the perception from outside -- locally and nationally -- is more of a team that keeps casting into the water hoping to find a bite.
Pettine, 47, coached with Ryan in Baltimore and was the Jets defensive coordinator under Ryan for four years before he went to Buffalo last season. The Bills defense had a team-record 57 sacks, ranked 10th in total defense, and 20th in scoring defense (that compares to Ray Horton’s defense, which had 40 sacks, ranked ninth in total defense and 23rd in scoring defense).
Pettine was one of the names on a list created by an NFL-created panel of former coaches and general managers to circulate to teams with vacancies. Defensive coordinators Dan Quinn of Seattle and Todd Bowles of Arizona are also on the list. Both were interviewed by the Browns, though Bowles withdrew from consideration.
The Browns are also waiting to interview Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase after the season. No other word has broken on whether they’d talk to other coaches involved in this weekend’s championship games -- like San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
Owner Jimmy Haslam sent a letter to fans Wednesday saying the team was being methodical and asking for patience. He also said the team knew it would have to wait for teams in the playoffs to be eliminated before talking to their coaches.
There is growing belief in the league that Haslam is acting on the strong recommendation of Peyton Manning in waiting for Gase, 35. Manning and Haslam are friends from Tennessee.
The Lions admitted that Manning’s unsolicited phone call and recommendation led them to give stronger consideration to hiring Jim Caldwell. If Manning did that with an owner he does not know, it’s not unreasonable to believe he did it with an owner with whom he is close.
Gase has made it clear he will not interview as long as the Broncos are in the playoffs. The earliest he then could interview would be Monday. If the Broncos beat the Patriots and advance to the Super Bowl, the interview would wait at least two more weeks.