Between both his results and everything anyone ever says about him, Mike Pettine is a defensive mastermind, and he’s able to both install schemes catered properly to his player’s specific skillsets, and also push those players to get every ounce of talent.

It’s the latter quality which will now be more important in his new position as the Cleveland Browns head coach, because while having an elite defensive mind around an equality elite defensive player like Joe Haden is not at all a bad thing, defense wasn’t the Browns’ problem in 2013. No, the whole scoring points thing was the issue.

Sure, the Browns gave up plenty of points and an average of 25.4 per game, but that was primarily a product of an offense that either couldn’t move the ball or frequently turned it over, with both results ending in poor field position for the defense. The numbers that matter more are the Browns’ 332.4 total yards allowed per game (ninth), and even better, their 4.8 per play (third).

Meanwhile, offensively there are young and promising pieces in place between Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, but without a quarterback they will be wasted. Jason Campbell was just a gap filler, and surely a quarterback will be selected in May with one of the Browns’ two first-round picks. That’s why initially Joe Banner and Jimmy Haslam were pursuing a football mind rooted in the other side of the ball as their next head coach, and one who could take the talented young quarterback clay given to them, and mold it into beautiful art. The leading candidates who met that description and could fulfill a far more pressing need were Josh McDaniels, Ken Whisenhunt, Adam Gase, and Bill O’Brien, all of whom either ran elsewhere, or politely told the Browns to screw off.

So the focus shift happened, and enter Pettine. He’ll initially fight the perception that he’s the coach by default, and the safety net option settled for after every other candidate scattered. Predictably Haslam and Banner are saying they followed their process, and it was a deliberate and painstaking one which involved many thorough interviews, and eventually the right candidate was found. Maybe they’re not wrong, but they nearly entered Super Bowl week without a head coach, which flies against normal NFL business practices. The offseason, she moves fast, and ideally you’d like a head coach in place right now during the Senior Bowl, and he can be prepping for the Scouting Combine that’s already only a few weeks out.

But if the Browns win under Pettine and ideally — dear god hopefully — with a new quarterback next year, all will be forgiven. Given his strengths as a coach, the strategy should be to keep evolving an imposing defense, while having an offense that can score points and move the ball, but generally stays out of its own way.

During his most recent stop as defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, Pettine led a unit that set franchise records with 57 sacks (second in the league), and 23 interceptions (also second), while sending three players to the Pro Bowl (Mario Williams, Jarius Byrd, and Kyle Williams), and a fourth as an injury replacement (Marcel Dareus). Also, Kiko Alonso is getting strong consideration for defensive rookie of the year after his 159 tackles.

Even better, Pettine’s defensive success goes beyond Buffalo. He was alongside Rex Ryan with the Jets for three seasons, which included involvement with the league’s top defense in 2009 that allowed only 252.3 total yards per game.

Between Haden, Buster Skrine, D’Qwell Jackson, Phil Taylor and Barkevious Mingo, Pettine has buckets of young talent to work with and repeat that success, continuing the Browns’ path towards being a defensive powerhouse. Now he just needs a quarterback to avoid being Chudzinski’ed.

More notes, reading, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

And now for a far more concise and perfect take, we turn to Mike Pettine’s daughter

Kids still say the darndest things, and Pettine’s daughter dropped this little ditty last week…

Cheerleaders are grossly underpaid, exploited, and disrespected

That last part likely doesn’t surprise you, because especially in venues where the douchebag population is particularly high, I can’t imagine there are many things worse in this life than being an attractive woman who’s wearing very little and is a skilled and flexible dancer/gymnast.

But hey, NFL cheerleaders are well aware of that horribleness when they sign up for the gig, and they either know how to manage the awful that follows, or they learn pretty quickly. And they surely knew about the outrageously low salary they’re paid too, but that doesn’t make it remotely right.

That’s why a group of cheerleaders are now part of a petition asking NFL teams to, at the very least, pay them a livable wage. The money line in said petition reads as follows:

NFL cheerleaders are one of the most recognizable mainstays of the sport, rooting on their teams in extreme weather and performing stunning, difficult routines for millions of fans. But while cheerleaders bring in as much as 1 million dollars each season for their teams in merchandising and promotion, many get paid as little as $150 per game.

While cheerleaders do have some opportunities to do some outside appearances, many of these skilled athletes make less than $1000 per year. Comparatively, an NFL mascot can make as much as $65,000 per season.

Cheerleaders spend countless hours at practice each week, perfecting their routines, but aren’t paid for any of them. Being an NFL cheerleader isn’t just a hobby. The selection process for the few slots on each squad is competitive and each member is required to have highly specialized dance and athletic skills.

Absorb that for a second. Being a mascot and doing that well also requires a unique skillset. But you never see who’s in that giant pirate suit or whatever, yet cheerleaders are appearing at events, spending countless hours at the gym, and practicing all week for…$150?

Elsewhere in cheerleader atrocities

So in addition to being paid the equivalent of several Mars bars, some teams even fine cheerleaders for the most asinine things. Or at least one team does, and the name of that team won’t surprise you even a little bit: the Oakland Raiders.

One of the Raiderettes (of all the pukey cheerleader team nicknames, that’s the worst) is suing the Raiders’ front office basically because it’s filled with horrible humans. Deadspin obtained the lawsuit, which is rooted in scummy fines over nothing, with the goal of the franchise being to get back every dollar of that $125 (yep, even worse) each cheerleader is paid.

Forget to bring (including but not limited to) correct pom(s) or props to practice? $10.00 fine

Wear wrong designated workout wear and/or footwear for two-piece Wednesday rehearsals, special rehearsals and/or game day rehearsals? $10.00 fine

Not able to get bios in on time? $10.00 fine

Forget all or part of the official uniform, boots, and or poms for any event or game day? $10.00 fine (per item) and/or benched from game (-125.00)

Boots not clean and polished for game day? $10.00 fine

Failure to follow point #1 under Etiquette or Appearances (Game Day Ready)? $10.00 fine

FINES WILL CONTINUE TO DOUBLE IF INFRACTIONS CONTINUE. Example: a $10 fine will go up to $20 if you forget to wear the proper attire for a second time, etc.

Just win, baby.

Stay far, far away from this catering company for your Super Bowl party

There comes a day in every man’s life when he attends a super bowel party. It is not a good day.

Say, does it snow in New York?

Like most reasonable-minded people who have watched The Weather Man (some of Nic Cage’s best work) I rarely pay attention to the weather forecast beyond about two days from now. Because weather is just wind, and it blows everywhere.

But next week you’re going to hear relentless updates about the projected Super Bowl weather, which is understandable since weather has been a thing with this game ever since it was announced four years ago. If the current weather projections are to be believed, there’s a very good chance we’ll see a snowy Super Bowl next Sunday, and at the very least Super Bowl week will open with lots of flakey white stuff in New York on Monday.

Tell us more, AcuWeather.

According to Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno, “We have to watch for a storm trying to make a run up along the Atlantic Seaboard during the middle of next week.”

Rayno is concerned that upper-level steering winds will change next week. While the change in jet stream winds would end the long train of Alberta Clipper storms, it could mark the beginning of a pattern favoring a different breed of storms, which move up from the South.


This is how most of the world sees Richard Sherman now. He’s just a walking and talking oversized head, while the rest of his nimble body happens to be very good at playing cornerback.