McCarthy opts for Pet­tine at DC

He chooses for­mer Browns coach over three of his 2017 as­sis­tants

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Green Bay — Mike McCarthy’s search to fill his va­cant de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor’s job ended sud­denly af­ter nine days when the Green Bay Pack­ers coach chose for­mer Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pet­tine to suc­ceed Dom Ca­pers.

McCarthy chose Pet­tine over in­house can­di­dates Dar­ren Perry, Joe Whitt Jr. and Win­ston Moss.

Mem­bers of McCarthy’s staff were in­formed that Pet­tine was go­ing to be the next de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor. ESPN re­ported that Pet­tine was in the process of work­ing out a deal, but a source said that it was fi­nal­ized that he had ac­cepted the po­si­tion.

Pet­tine, 51, was out of foot­ball in 2016 af­ter com­pil­ing a 10-22 record in two sea­sons as coach of the Cleveland Browns and spent this past sea­son as a de­fen­sive consultant with the Seat­tle Sea­hawks.

McCarthy had in­ter­est in Chicago Bears de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Vic Fan­gio, but Fan­gio is go­ing to stick with the Bears. He also asked for per­mis­sion to speak with Los An­ge­les Charg­ers de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Gus Bradley, but never got to in­ter­view him. Bradley agreed to re­turn to the Charg­ers last week.

Thus, McCarthy landed the one guy no one ex­pected him to hire.

Pet­tine comes from the Rex Ryan coach­ing tree, hav­ing served with the Bal­ti­more Ravens as a coach­ing as­sis­tant (2002-’03), as­sis­tant de­fen­sive line coach (2004), out­side lineback­ers coach (2005-’08) and then de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor of the New York Jets (2009-’12) and Buf­falo Bills (2013).

Ryan was on the Ravens’ staff from 1999-2008, in­clud­ing as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor his last five sea­sons. He brought Pet­tine with him when he be­came the New York Jets coach in 2009.

Pet­tine ac­cepted the Browns job in 2014.

Along the way to his head coach­ing job, Pet­tine was part of some of the NFL’s top de­fenses. From 2009-’12, the Jets ranked 1st, 3rd, 5th and 8th in over­all de­fense. Ryan re­ceived most of the credit for the Jets’ great de­fenses, but a Cleveland.com story said that Ryan turned over much of the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the de- fense to Pet­tine af­ter the 2009 sea­son.

In 2013, af­ter Pet­tine went to Buf­falo, the Bills ranked 10th in de­fense.

The Ryan-Pet­tine sys­tem is pres­sure­based and they use both 3-4 and 4-3 con­cepts, mean­ing play­ers must un­der­stand both. There is a lot of flex­i­bil­ity to change game plans week to week, but ac­cord­ing to an NFL play-caller who has faced those de­fenses, play­ers have to be flex­i­ble and smart.

“His­tory tells you they like to pres­sure,” the play-caller said. “In­ter­est­ingly, I read that he has been spend­ing time with Pete (Car­roll) up in Seat­tle. That de­fense is much sim­pler from what he ran in the past.”

Ac­cord­ing to the source, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied, gen­eral man­ager Brian Gutekunst is go­ing to have to pick play­ers who can han­dle the com­plex­ity of Pet­tine’s de­fense. The as­sis­tant coaches are go­ing to have to be ex­cel­lent teach­ers and the tal­ent should be 3-4 in na­ture with the abil­ity to play mul­ti­ple po­si­tions.

“Smarts is a ma­jor fac­tor when select­ing play­ers,” he said. “Smart play­ers will­ing to study.”

In Cleveland, Pet­tine liked to have big cor­ner­backs who could play press cov­er­age so that he could dis­rupt routes while bring­ing pres­sure. His de­fenses ranked 23rd in 2014 and 27th in ’15 in total yards and 10th and 29th in scor­ing.

Af­ter go­ing 7-9 in ’14, the team col­lapsed be­hind a hor­ri­ble of­fense that fea­tured Johnny Manziel and Austin Davis at quar­ter­back and fin­ished 3-13.

The key to his de­fense is flex­i­bil­ity with per­son­nel.

“You have to have the abil­ity to have guys play mul­ti­ple po­si­tions and play mul­ti­ple jobs,” Pet­tine said in a 2013 story. “I think you have to have guys that can be a de­fen­sive end (or) an out­side line­backer; a safety (or) an in­side line­backer; a nickel (or) an out­side cor­ner or a safety.

“A big part of the NFL is iden­ti­fy­ing guys pre-snap, and we want to limit the amount of pre-snap in­for­ma­tion we’re putting out to an of­fense. That’s why we look for guys that have that type of ver­sa­til­ity.”

Pet­tine got his start in the high school ranks, coach­ing for five years in Penn­syl­va­nia. He played at Cen­tral Bucks High School West, where his fa­ther, Mike Pet­tine Sr., was the head coach. His fa­ther is a leg­end in the Penn­syl­va­nia high school ranks, com­pil­ing a record of 326-42-4 in 33 sea­sons and win­ning four state cham­pi­onships.

KIRBY LEE / USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Mike Pet­tine strug­gled as head coach of the Cleveland Browns but en­joyed suc­cess as a de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for the New York Jets and Buf­falo Bills.

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