BEREA -- Coach Mike Pettine could’ve made former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan fulfill his contract, which had two years remaining.
Pettine didn’t see the point, so he and owner Jimmy Haslam agreed to let Shanahan resign after one season with the Browns.
“It’s just very hard to win in the NFL when everybody’s into it and they truly want to be there,” Pettine said Thursday. “If you have somebody that just doesn’t want to be there, I know it’s easy to say, ‘Hey, he’s under contract, hold him to it.’ Now there’s a dark cloud over your coaching offices and I’ve been a part of that.
“This business, it’s hard to win and you’ve got to have everybody into it, passionate about the Cleveland Browns and pulling the rope in the same direction.”
Pettine said he met with Shanahan after the season and Shanahan outlined his issues. They met again later and decided to split. Pettine said the reason for Shanahan’s departure wasn’t a lack of confidence in quarterback Johnny Manziel.
“I’m not going to get into details, but it was not much about that,” Pettine said.
Pettine added Shanahan came to him first, then Pettine set up a meeting between Haslam and Shanahan where the resignation was accepted.
“I have no issues,” Pettine said. “He was very up front, very honest with me.”
Pettine said the Browns discussed trying to get compensation for Shanahan in a trade, but decided not to drag out the process.
Pettine is looking at the situation as a positive, saying it’s an opportunity to get better. He will take the change in staff structure to focus on the offense. His NFL career has been spent on defense, and he focused primarily on that side last year, leaving Shanahan to run the offense.
“I felt last year was a situation where I had to get bunkered in with the defense to make sure that we were up and running,” Pettine said. “I thought (first-year defensive coordinator) Jim O’Neil did a great job for us and I see this now as an opportunity for me to become much more immersed in the other side of the ball where I can feel like I can lend my background, my defensive expertise, channel my former high school quarterback into it a little bit. So it’s something that personally, I’m very excited.”
Pettine had never worked with Shanahan and was burned. He spent 2009 with new coordinator John DeFilippo with the Jets and they’ve formed a bond and level of trust.
“I think it’s important that you have that sense, that chemistry, that cohesion, and when you know you already have it because you’ve been around somebody, that can’t help but be a plus,” Pettine said.
The NFL continues to review text messages reportedly sent from a member of the front office to the sidelines during a game, league spokesman Michael Signora said. He provided no more details.
Haslam said general manager Ray Farmer, general counsel Sashi Brown and Pettine are dealing with the league.
“And if we did anything wrong I’m sure we’ll correct it and make whatever amends,” Haslam said Thursday night at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards. “I know we’ve cooperated fully with the NFL.”
Cleveland.com reported in a story about Shanahan’s dissatisfaction that a “high-ranking” member of the front office texted the sideline during a game.
“Obviously I’m aware of it,” Pettine said when asked about the league’s investigation. “I do know that’s an ongoing league investigation. At this time I’d prefer not to talk about it.
“The investigators came in here, I spoke with them. When that’s resolved, I’ll be in a better situation to speak on it.”
CAN’T WE ALL GET ALONG?
The relationship between the front office and coaching staff has been questioned in the wake of Shanahan’s departure, particularly conflicts in personnel evaluations.
“I know the word friction was used and I think Ray used it,” Pettine said. “I’d prefer to term that a little more healthy debate than anything else. I think that’s very overblown. I think a lot of it’s natural. You have coaching and personnel that both have their ideas on players. So I think that’s just inherent with it.
“I would never at any point term my relationship with Ray as anything other than a great working relationship, and I think if we agreed on everything that would be an issue. I know on the inside what we’re building, and I feel even better now. I feel rejuvenated now. I feel that we’re heading down the right path.”
Haslam said he, president Alec Scheiner, Brown, Farmer and Pettine are going away for three days for a strategic planning session. He said it’s important to remember the group has been together for less than a year.
AN EYE ON THE PATRIOTS
Pettine faced Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady for years as defensive coordinator of the Jets. Pettine was asked for his take on the controversy regarding the under-inflated footballs used in the AFC championship game.
“I could go on this one for a while, but I won’t,” Pettine said. “I do have my personal opinion on it, but I do think as a lot of people have said these couple weeks of the playoffs, you’ve got to know the rules.”
Pettine plans no other coaching departures and expects to hire a quarterbacks coach and a receivers coach. Dowell Loggains and Mike McDaniel weren’t retained.
Pettine said he spoke to candidates at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and hopes to complete the staff by next week.
Because DeFilippo has never been a coordinator in the NFL, they’ve discussed adding a veteran coach to help the transition. Former Raiders senior assistant Al Saunders, who worked with DeFilippo, is an option.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Flip has a lot to offer. He’s very bright, very energetic, very passionate and I think the thing that sticks out the most to me is just his ability to pull people together. I think he has outstanding people skills. It’s hard to be in a bad mood around him. As you guys know, I have a soft spot for coaches’ kids and here’s another one.” – Pettine on DeFilippo.