WASHINGTON — The Redskins have interviewed former Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine for their open defensive coordinator position, the team announced on Monday.
Pettine, 50, spent two seasons as the Browns head coach, where things ended poorly after the 2015 season, but has a long track record as a defensive coordinator in the NFL.
Pettine was an assistant coach for the Baltimore Ravens from 2002 to 2008 and followed then-assistant Rex Ryan to the New York Jets in 2009. Pettine spent four years in New York as the defensive coordinator and another in Buffalo in that same position before landing the Browns job. He did not coach in the NFL this past season.
Washington fired Joe Barry last week after two seasons. Pettine is the first coach the Redskins have said interviewed so far. Remaining on staff for now are outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky, inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti, and Aubrey Pleasant, the assistant defensive backs coach.
Pettine is the son of a legendary Philadelphia-area high school coach – Mike Pettine, Sr. He played at Central Bucks West for his father and later starred at the University of Virginia as a defensive back. Pettine returned home to be an assistant coach at C.B. West, had a brief two-year stint as a college assistant at Pitt and then returned to the Philadelphia area as a high school coach for seven seasons in Bucks County.
An ESPN documentary in 1999 detailed Pettine’s time at North Penn High. His team went 11-2 that season – and lost both games to his father and C.B. West.
In 2002 Pettine joined the Baltimore Ravens as a video coordinator and in 2005 was promoted to outside linebackers coach when Ryan took over as defensive coordinator.
Ryan and Pettine stayed on in Baltimore under John Harbaugh when he took over as head coach for the Ravens in 2008. But they both departed for New York in 2009 when Ryan was hired as the Jets head coach.
Pettine’s track record as a defensive coordinator is strong. With the Jets, his teams finished first in yards allowed per game in 2009, third in 2010 and never below No. 8 overall in four seasons. The 2009 team allowed the fewest points per game in the league that year (14.8) and was sixth in 2010 (19.0).
Pettine’s teams play a base 3-4 defense, though he inherited 4-3 personnel with the Bills in 2013 and made the adjustment. That team was 10th in yards allowed, but ranked third in the league in sacks percentage (10.16 percent). Linebacker Kiko Alonso was the Pro Football Writers’ Association defensive rookie of the year that season.
But those teams had more talent on defense than Washington does right now. The Jets, especially, were loaded. In 2009, defensive tackle Kris Jenkins and cornerback Darrelle Revis made the Pro Bowl. In 2010 it was defensive end Shaun Ellis and Revis, who made the team again in 2011 and 2012.
Pettine didn’t have as much luck in his two seasons as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He had to navigate the Johnny Manziel situation as the Browns drafted the troubled quarterback in the first round in 2014 and quickly realized he wasn’t up to the job on or off the field. Pettine still led that team to a 7-9 season in his first year, but Cleveland cratered to 3-13 in 2015 and the coaching staff and general manager Ray Farmer were fired last Jan. 4.
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