How Mike Pettine in Cleveland impacts Jets

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
7:20
PM ET
A few takeaways on the Cleveland Browns hiring former New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine (2009-12) as head coach:

1. Rex's coaching tree: Pettine became the first assistant from Rex Ryan's original staff to land a head coaching job. That, no doubt, is a source of pride for Ryan. Pettine made a lateral move to the Buffalo Bills after the 2012 season, fueling speculation of a falling out between them, but Pettine knew he had to escape Ryan's shadow to improve his chances of becoming a head coach. They've drifted apart, but they remain friends.

2. Free-agent poaching: Pettine grew up in the league alongside Ryan, so they look at players the same way and share a lot of the same schematic beliefs. It means that some of the Jets' defensive free agents could be attractive to Pettine. Fortunately for the Jets, they have only one starter due to hit free agency -- outside linebacker Calvin Pace. The Browns are loaded at the position with Paul Kruger, Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo, so Pace wouldn't be a fit. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, a possible salary-cap casualty, could be on the open market, but he and Pettine didn't see eye to eye. Pettine once criticized Cromartie to reporters, prompting Cromartie to curse him out in a meeting. In other words, don't expect a Cromartie-Pettine reunion. Pettine could pursue safety Ed Reed, whom he knows from their time together in Baltimore. Chances are, the Jets won't mind if they lose him.

3. Coaching staff: Ryan's assistants re-upped last week, so there's no chance of anyone leaving for Cleveland. Both teams are looking for a special-teams coach, so there could be competition between the teams. You have to wonder if Pettine will make a run at the retired Mike Westhoff. Frankly, I don't think so. They weren't the best of buds in New York.

4. Shades of '09: Pettine is walking into a situation that, in some ways, is similar to what he and Ryan faced in their first year with the Jets. The Browns have the makings of a very good defense (No. 9 overall), including a premier cornerback, Joe Haden. In '09, they inherited a solid defense (No. 16), led by cornerback Darrelle Revis. The Browns have a mess at quarterback and could draft one with the fourth overall pick. In '09, the Jets were a mess and drafted Mark Sanchez at No. 5. Overall, the talent base was greater on the '09 Jets than the current Browns, but Pettine will have tremendous roster flexibility.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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