Flashback Friday: 5 coaches the Cleveland Browns should not have fired
It was tough for the Browns to find a head coach in 2014, as several candidates reportedly turned down the team rather than walk into the same cross-fire that nailed Chudzinski. Finally Mike Pettine, a defensive specialist from the Buffalo Bills and another disciple of the Ryan coaching tree, became the new head coach for the 2014 season.
In order to help Pettine, owner Jimmy Haslam reportedly consulted with a homeless man on draft day and together they determined that Johnny Manziel would be a great asset for the team. Nevertheless, with Hoyer as starting quarterback and Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator, the team got off to a 7-3 start.
That is not a misprint. The Browns were 7-3 to start Mike Pettine’s regime. That sounds hard to believe but is absolutely true, a credit to Pettine’s defense and Shanahan’s offense.
At that point, Alex Mack broke his leg and the team lost four straight. With pressure from ownership, Manziel came in to guide the team to two more losses and a 7-9 record.
The next year, the ultimate team player Josh McCown stepped in for Hoyer, who was sent packing with a 10-7 record as the Browns starter. Pettine would not start the erratic Manziel and went with McCown. But McCown, despite his obvious high-ability and the enormous respect of his teammates, could not rally the team, winning only one time as a starter. It did not help that Josh “Mr. Reliable” Gordon, was on one of his many drug-related vacations from football.
Manziel wound up as the starter, and believe it or not he actually went 2-4, which is pretty good for a team that overall was 3-13. That proved to ownership Pettine should have been playing Manziel all along. So Pettine was fired, basically for preferring McCown over Manziel.
Manziel, alas, did not reward ownership’s faith in him, and wound up caught in a downward spiral with drugs and brushes with the law. In retrospect, Pettine was 1,000 percent right and Manziel was completely mishandled from Day One. But no matter, out you go, coach.
For the record, Pettine did an outstanding job, and if he had been given players to work with instead of troubled players like Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert, he was going to be a winner.