Okay, I know it is just the second week of the NFL, and I know the thrilling last-minute win over the Saints today is just one win. I know that it is a long season and, the Browns being the Browns, many bad things — horrible things, unspeakable things, impossible things — can and inevitably will happen. I haven’t totally lost touch with reality (I think).
But, I’m willing to declare this: I’m liking what I’m seeing of Mike Pettine, the Browns’ new head coach, so far.
I liked the way Pettine handled last week’s first half debacle against the Steelers, and the way the and his staff got the team turned around and ready to play the second half. When the Browns came roaring back he kept his cool, and he maintained his composure even when the team lost a heartbreaker. That’s not easy, but it’s essential in pro football. The coach has to keep a level head, and Pettine looks like he has that ability. Today we saw more of that.
We also saw one other crucial thing: players making key plays at critical moments. In pro football, the margin for error is so slim that one play can be dispositive. Today the key play was a third down sack that kept the Saints out of field goal position and gave the Browns a chance to come back. In past years, for whatever reason, that play doesn’t get made. This year it did, and the Browns then didn’t implode in the two-minute offense. I credit the coaches for the team’s ability to execute when the chips were down.
Pettine not only keeps his cool, he looks cool, with the shaved head and shades. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he might finally be the head coach we’ve needed.