BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine disputed reports that there was any problem with Kyle Shanahan’s interview to be the offensive coordinator, and in the process gave a little lesson in journalistic ethics.
“I was in there with Kyle for the interview part,” Pettine said Thursday, “and I think it shocked both of us that it came out that he was ‘blunt force trauma’ in the interview and things didn’t go well.”
Pettine was asked about a rumor making the rounds that Shanahan was very direct with Browns CEO Joe Banner about the firing of Rob Chudzinski after one season, and that Shanahan was unimpressive in his interview.
“To my knowledge it did not happen,” Pettine said of the discussion with Banner.
He added that he did not believe Shanahan and Banner had a separate, private meeting.
Pettine said Shanahan did impress. The new Browns coach had a lengthy list of positives that Shanahan brings, but the most important trait was his experience. Pettine is a defensive coach, and he liked the fact that Shanahan has been an offensive coordinator for six years, with an offense that ranked in the Top 10 in four of the six years.
“It would have been very difficult to have a first-year coordinator on the offensive side,” Pettine said.
He and Shanahan said the important task of evaluating players will start now, and that the offense will be tailored to the skills of the players on the team.
The successes and struggles with Robert Griffin III also were discussed, including the fact that Shanahan and his father Mike Shanahan played Griffin in the playoffs as a rookie when he had an injured knee. Griffin was obviously hobbling, and he wound up tearing his ACL in that game, which set him back in 2013.
“When it was all said and done and we heard about it, it was nothing that I felt reflected poorly on Kyle,” Pettine said.
Shanahan also talked with the Browns at length about Griffin’s struggles in a 3-13 season in 2013. Griffin wound up missing the final three games.
“I didn’t feel like I needed to be assured (about it),” Pettine said. “He opened up about it and talked about it at length. It was something that I didn’t think was an issue at all. He was very passionate about it, and he talked about the relationship in similar terms.”
"Any time you go through a 3-13 season, it is a challenge," Shanahan said. "It’s a challenge on your relationship. It’s a challenge with everybody in the building. You’ve got to deal with a lot of stuff, a lot of negativity, and the thing I learned going through that, especially with a high-profile guy, there’s a lot more stuff that comes out.
"The thing that I always did with him, and that we did with each other, is when stuff would come out, we’d address it. We’d get into our room. We’d talk about it and make sure we felt good about it, and I think Robert and I -- through a very tough time -- we managed to keep our relationship through the year.
"I’m not going to say it was easy. Nothing’s easy when you go through something like that. But I do believe going through it, Robert and I in the long run, it’ll make both of us better."
Pettine said negatives are exaggerated when things go bad with a team. He said the narrative when he left the Jets and Rex Ryan to work in Buffalo was that he had a falling out with Ryan.
“It’s absolutely not true,” Pettine said, “but I think people try to fill the gaps in that, ‘That must be the case because he left.’”
Which circled back to his comments on the reports that Shanahan had a bad interview and was not impressive.
“Some stuff was either prematurely reported or was reported wrong,” Pettine said, referring to other reports that Cam Cameron might join the Browns. “I know the difficult job that people have. It’s get it right and get it first, and I know that’s a priority, but sometimes I think get it first is taking top billing over getting it right in some situations.”