Cleveland Browns: Dan Quinn

Mike Pettine said he never told the Cleveland Browns he was thinking of withdrawing from the team’s coaching search.

Pettine said Thursday that he never gave the team an ultimatum and that the only time he expressed concern about the process was when he “vented” to his agent, Trace Armstrong.

“Not at any point did I say you need to tell me or I’m pulling out,” Pettine said.

The question was relevant in light of Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn saying he would have been interested in the Browns opening. The Browns chose not to wait, though, and hired Pettine. They said it was because they wanted Pettine, but when Pettine admitted he needed to know the team’s decision it indicated the Browns may have acted because of that.

“It was unfair to the Bills how long it was going,” Pettine said.

Armstrong was one of the league’s more respected players when he played, and he is a former president of the NFL Players Association. He might have conveyed Pettine’s feelings, but Pettine was not asked that, and everything he said indicated discussions stayed between him and Armstrong.

“It was putting [the Bills] in a tough spot,” Pettine said. “The loyalty there was a driving force, but it never came in the form of an ultimatum.”
The Cleveland Browns might not be able to win on an issue related to their coaching search.

They’re criticized for the length of time they took to hire a coach and now they’re questioned because they didn’t wait longer.

That’s because the first guy they interviewed -- Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn -- went on to win the Super Bowl. Which conveniently ignores the fact that the offensive coordinator the Browns asked about before they talked to Quinn lost the Super Bowl.

No matter.

The immediate reaction is that the Browns waited a long time, then didn’t wait for a second interview with a Super Bowl winning coordinator and hired one whose team went 6-10.

[+] EnlargeDan Quinn
AP Photo/Paul JasienskiWaiting for Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn might have led to the Browns missing out on their top two choices.
Quinn told the Cleveland Plain Dealer after the Seahawks had kicked sand in Peyton Manning’s face Sunday night that he was definitely intrigued by the Browns job.

“I certainly would have been interested,“ Quinn told Mary Kay Cabot. “I mean, it’s a big-time place. It’s the Cleveland Browns.”

Quinn could have interviewed in the week after the NFC Championship Game, but he declined, preferring to focus on the Super Bowl. He simply wanted to wait until after the game out of respect for his players.

The Browns chose to go ahead and hire former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

CEO Joe Banner called the decision not to interview Quinn for a second time “the toughest decision” in the search. He addressed the issue on Jan. 23, the day Pettine was hired.

“I think we felt that we knew [Quinn] well enough to make the comparison,” Banner said.

He had nothing but praise for Quinn, calling him “an outstanding guy, an outstanding coach.”

“If we had felt that he would be likely to prevail, we would not have liked to wait, we would not have liked to take 10 more days of pummeling, but we would have,” Banner said.

Pettine made the story a little more complicated by saying the day he was hired that if the Browns' search had dragged out a little longer -- Rob Chudzinski was fired Dec. 29 and Pettine was hired Jan. 23 -- he would have withdrawn.

Pettine felt he couldn’t keep the Bills waiting any longer.

If the Browns knew that -- and it would be shocking if they didn’t -- they were looking at either ...

  • Hiring Pettine immediately. Which was the right move if they felt he was the guy.
  • Waiting for Quinn and risk losing Pettine -- who would have withdrawn -- without being certain if Quinn would have taken the job.

That could have left the Browns without both coaches and the Super Bowl over, which would have led to even more criticism.

They went with the sure thing, a guy they liked while knowing they were turning down a guy they liked.

“That was probably the toughest decision because there’s no doubt we were very impressed with [Quinn] and there’s no doubt he’s going to be a head coach, an outstanding head coach,” Banner said. “There are a lot of people around the league that think very highly of him. But in the end we decided to move forward.”

The Browns simply can’t win in this situation, and in many ways questioning this is classic second-guessing.

The first coach the Browns sought permission to interview was Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

His offense looked bad in the Super Bowl against Quinn’s defense. Which led many of the same folks who were clamoring for Gase to be thankful the Browns didn’t get him.

One game doesn’t define a coach, good or bad. It does create reactions.

Because Quinn won, questions come up about why the Browns didn’t wait.

The questions are fair, but the answers don’t guarantee Quinn or Pettine will be the better head coach.
Our most recent poll on who you’d like to see the Browns hire as head coach drew twice as many voters as any of our previous polls.

More than 4,100 voted, and the statement made was clear and strong: The people want Jim Tressel.

Even if they’re not going to get him.

Fifty percent of the vote went to Tressel even though the Browns have shown no interest in talking to the former Ohio State coach (unless they’re doing it secretly).

For one person to garner 50 percent of the vote in a five-person vote is significant. It means Tressel had as many votes as the other four combined.

Methinks the fans are serious about this.

If it were an electoral college, Tressel would have run away with the vote: Only six states did not vote for him: Maine, Vermont, North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska and Alaska (?). Yes, the great state of Alaska, with its majestic mountains and gnarly grizzlies, cast its two votes for the man with the vest from the great state of Ohio, Jim Tressel.

What’s equally as interesting is that none of the other four names listed garnered more than 15 percent of the vote.

Adam Gase, whom the Browns have waited patiently to interview, drew 15 percent, but didn’t even win in Colorado, where he coaches a guy named Manning.

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn received 14 percent, former Tennessee coach Mike Munchak 14 percent and Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn just seven percent.

The poll was posted before Mike Pettine (Bills DC) and Rich Bisaccia (Cowboys special teams) interviewed, but it doesn’t seem those two names would have chipped away at Tressel’s 50 percent.

It’s clear the man they call “the Vest” remains popular, liked and respected in the state of Ohio.
The Cleveland Browns' coaching search goes on.

It’s time for you to weigh in.

With the Denver Broncos advancing to the AFC Championship Game, the Browns have to decide if they want to wait one more week to interview offensive coordinator Adam Gase -- assuming he will. Gase was the first person the Browns asked to interview the day after Rob Chudzinski was let go, so it would seem logical that if they’ve waited this long they would wait one more week.


What kind of coach do you favor for the Browns?


Discuss (Total votes: 2,411)

Or they can hire one of the people they’ve talked to already.

So far, the Browns' search has focused on these types of coaches, and we’d like to hear which you favor:

-- The young "it" coordinator, like Gase. Todd Bowles of Arizona and Dan Quinn of Seattle both fit this category as well.

-- The one experienced coach out there willing to consider the job: Former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt.

-- College guys, like James Franklin (who chose to go to Penn State) and Gus Malzahn of Auburn, though it’s not known that either has even interviewed.

-- The one category they haven’t gone with is the former Ohio State coach, Jim Tressel. It appears more than unlikely the Browns will talk to Tressel, perhaps put off because he is 61 and he hasn’t been coaching for two years.

We’ll include the Tressel-type category in the poll anyway, because this is about the type of coach you want to hire, not picking from the guys who were interviewed.

Cast your ballot and we’ll catch up with results as the week goes on.
Something should become clearer about the Cleveland Browns' coaching search today.

Whether that leads to a coach being hired in the short term is a complete unknown, though. Either Denver or San Diego will lose in the playoffs today when they play each other. That means Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt or Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase can be hired by another team.

Whether that team is the Browns remains to be seen. Running down the candidates:

Ken Whisenhunt -- Clearly the leader in the clubhouse when résumé and fan opinion are taken into account. But he also is considered the runaway favorite to be hired in Detroit, where a talented team, including a quarterback, is in place. Many in the league feel once San Diego loses it's merely a matter of time for Whisenhunt to be hired by the Lions.

Adam Gase -- At 35 he's the "it" candidate. But he's also been a coordinator for one year, and that was with Peyton Manning. Former Vice President Richard Cheney would probably be a good coordinator with Manning at quarterback. Gase has delayed interviews until after the playoffs, which is admirable. But a lot of word is leaking that Gase will think twice about interviewing with the Browns -- or anyone for that matter -- because he is in a good spot, and the fact his name is out now will help him gain a job in the future.

Ben McAdoo -- The Green Bay Packers' quarterbacks coach has the benefit of Aaron Rodgers. The "Cheney Rule" above applies to Rodgers. McAdoo's name came from nowhere, much like Andy Reid's did in 1999 in Philadelphia. McAdoo was a virtual unknown when the Browns decided to interview him, and he remains that. It's interesting that the Browns would turn to a young up-and-coming coach after firing a guy they described the same way a year ago. Usually teams go the opposite.

Todd Bowles -- Arizona's defensive coordinator interviewed early in the process and his name has hardly been mentioned since.

Dan Quinn -- Seattle's defensive coordinator reportedly is a popular option, but he's now preparing for the NFC Championship Game and the Browns have to wait on him until the Seahawks are out of the playoffs.

Gus Malzahn -- His name continues to flit about, even though he's happy at Auburn and he agreed to a contract extension in early December.

By the wayside -- James Franklin was hired by Penn State and Josh McDaniels pulled his name from consideration.

At least the Browns, and their fans, will know something tonight. It may not take them any closer to hiring a coach, but they'll know something.
Owner Jimmy Haslam talked about hiring a proven winner to replace Rob Chudzinski, so it was odd when the first names that surfaced in the Cleveland Browns' coaching search were coordinators.

Then on Sunday,'s Jason La Canfora reported that the Browns were interested in two college coaches: Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt's James Franklin. These names could fall under the category Haslam described.

[+] EnlargeGus Malzahn
AP Photo/Dave MartinThe Browns are reportedly interested in Gus Malzahn, who led Auburn to the BCS title game in his first season as head coach.
Malzahn's name is interesting. He's this year's Chip Kelly, the guy the Browns did not get a year ago. That failure stung, especially after Kelly initially indicated he'd return to Oregon but then joined the Eagles and led them to the playoffs. The timing isn't good for Malzahn, who is preparing his Auburn team to play Florida State in the national title game. But if Malzahn's goal is to be in the NFL, the timing won't matter.

Malzahn was Cam Newton's offensive coordinator when the Tigers won the national title. He spent a year as head coach at Arkansas State before returning to be the head coach at Auburn this season. Like Kelly, he has been tied to the read-option offense.

Franklin is a former Packers assistant who had success in one of the toughest places in the SEC to have success, Vanderbilt. He has also been rumored to be on the list of other NFL teams with openings, and his name has been floated in relation to Penn State, which needs a coach after Bill O'Brien left for the Houston Texans.

The college names are interesting, because it's tough for NFL coordinators to have proven records of winning. College head coaches can.

While most in the league shook their head at the firing of Chudzinski after one season, almost as many are interested to see who is hired. In the structure the Browns have, Banner is in charge of football and personnel. A coach would have to accept that structure.

Other names that have surfaced include:

New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. At first glance McDaniels would seem to be a front-runner. He's from Northeast Ohio and went to college at John Carroll in suburban Cleveland. But sources have said Banner must be convinced, and that could be a challenge. McDaniels would seem to want control over personnel the way Belichick has it in New England. Given the Browns structure, that demand might be tough to meet.

Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Good guy, respected coach. He worked for the Browns from 2001 to 2004 as defensive backs coach before moving on to the Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles and Cardinals, where he was Bruce Arians' choice to coach the defense. It's tough to find anyone who will say much negative about Bowles. He also would fill the league's Rooney Rule mandate.

Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. He will also interview with the Vikings. Under Quinn this season, Seattle led the NFL in points allowed, yards allowed, passing yards allowed and interceptions. He spent two years as the Florida Gators' coordinator, and has been an assistant with several NFL teams.

Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase. Every year there's a young coordinator who garners attention. It appears this year it's Gase, who had the benefit of working with Peyton Manning. That sure helps a coach look good, but it also helps a coach gain knowledge. Don't discount the recommendation Manning may have given on behalf of Gase; Manning and Haslam are friends. Gase, though, could hurt his chances by deciding not to interview until the Broncos' postseason run is over. It's an admirable stance, but the Browns may not wait.