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Pettine explains the value of having an opponent’s playbook

Playbooks

The bulk of a recent profile of Browns coach Mike Pettine largely was ignored due to the presence of quotes suggesting that the Patriots somehow misappropriated one or more copies of the Jets’ playbook when Pettine served as the defensive coordinator in New York.  It wasn’t surprising, especially with one of the money quotes being isolated and expanded on the page.

“We know in places like New England, it’s only a matter of time that they somehow mysteriously end up with our playbook.”

Pettine then shared the story of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady bragging at Wes Welker’s wedding about New England having the defensive playbook.

“It didn’t shock me because [coach] Rex [Ryan] would give them out like candy anyway,” Pettine told Greg Bedard of TheMMQB.com. “He gave one out to [Alabama coach Nick] Saban and I was like, ‘Don’t you know Saban and Bill [Belichick] are pretty good friends?  I have a feeling it’s going to end up in New England.’”

In hindsight, Pettine and Bedard perhaps should have had a feeling that the anecdote would overtake the story, because it did.  On Friday afternoon, Pettine shared with PFT details about what it means — and what it doesn’t mean — to have another team’s playbook.

“Most playbooks are very broad,” Pettine said via phone from Hawaii, where he is vacationing.  “We’ll have 80 [defensive formations] in a playbook, 30 in a game plan.  We’ll add six or seven new ones for a given game.”

Pettine said the defensive playbook shows core concepts.  Without having access either to the game plan or to notes players take during meetings, the playbook has far less value.

But Pettine doesn’t claim that having an opponent’s playbook has no value.

“It’s a credit that [the Patriots] have been able to get that information,” Pettine said.  “I didn’t mean to imply it was gathered illegally. . . .  To me, it’s a sign of a smart team.  We’re not actively pursuing playbooks, but when they fall in your laps, you’ll study it.”

Pettine emphasized that he wasn’t accusing the Patriots of stealing the playbook or any other wrongdoing, and he acknowledged that playbooks routinely end up on the Internet.  Indeed, a reader sent PFT a copy of the Jets’ defensive playbook on Thursday after the story first emerged.  While talking to Pettine, I rattled off terms from it, like Titan Package, Under Wasp Sting, and Under Bee Sting.

“That’s it,” Pettine said.

Pettine said he shared the Brady story with Bedard to illustrate the importance of keeping playbooks vague.  Coaches assume that, somehow, a playbook will end up in the wrong hands.  Though it will never provide the difference between winning and losing, if it can help even a little coaches want to study it.

“We’re all in the business of gathering information,” Pettine explained.  “If I can get someone’s blueprint for how they build their offense or defense, of course I’m going to look at it.”

Usually, the playbooks migrate from team to team when coaches leave for other jobs.  Far more valuable than a playbook, however, would be a past game plan used against a specific team, assuming the systems and personnel haven’t changed dramatically.

So while it can’t hurt to have a team’s playbook, it won’t help all that much.

“It’s only the skeleton,” Pettine said.  “Not the meat on the bones.”

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66 Responses to “Pettine explains the value of having an opponent’s playbook”
  1. conspiracybrotherjones says: Jun 20, 2014 2:26 PM

    He’s digging his own grave, and he probably won’t be lucky enough to eventually end up on TV after he’s blacklisted from the NFL like his hero Eric Mangini either

  2. scrp2 says: Jun 20, 2014 2:27 PM

    Don’t worry about what some bridemaids were yappin about at Wes Welker’s wedding. Blocking – Tackling – Fundamentals.

  3. nflfan4now says: Jun 20, 2014 2:29 PM

    Sooo, does he have a copy of the Bill’s offensive playbook????

    (insert Bill’s jokes here)

  4. thestrategyexpert says: Jun 20, 2014 2:30 PM

    This was just a power trip play.

  5. j0esixpack says: Jun 20, 2014 2:32 PM

    Attention Woody Johnson and Jets fans: Re-Sign Wrecks Ryan to a Long Term Contract NOW!

    We all agree with you – you’ve got a genius of a head coach! ;-)

    Signed: every fan of every other team in the NFL

    (P.S. – It’s not “stealing” or “cheating” when your head coach “gives away playbooks like candy”)

  6. i thumbs down your comment says: Jun 20, 2014 2:33 PM

    Does there really need to be an explanation as to why there is value in having another team’s playbook?

  7. scw37 says: Jun 20, 2014 2:34 PM

    This soon-to-be former Browns coach needs to stop talking.

  8. datageek94 says: Jun 20, 2014 2:35 PM

    Funny how Bill Belichick, whether ignoring NFL rules or not, always winds up gathering information about other teams that supposedly brings no real value.

    Truly pathetic.

  9. qdog112 says: Jun 20, 2014 2:38 PM

    So it won’t be so bad when Johnny leaves his Ipad(with the plays) in the club?

  10. kwgator says: Jun 20, 2014 2:40 PM

    Enjoy your 1 year as Brown Coach!

  11. Big Ant TV says: Jun 20, 2014 2:43 PM

    smh as browns fan we dont deserve all this bs from all these years of losing too umm bad qb selections and etc when will the losing,drama and controversy end

  12. nflviewer says: Jun 20, 2014 2:44 PM

    Same type of garbage that people in lots of industries claim. Lots of people like to claim there are special secrets in their job sector and outsiders and competitors don’t understand them.

    Pro football teams watch lots of film of their opponents. Players and coaches move from team to team. Every pro team knows the plays their opponents run. The only real benefit would be knowing what specific plays a team was about to run in a game. That’s why teams don’t get overly worked up about their playbooks leaking. Every week when they play a game and run plays its the same as leaking their playbook.

  13. dabears2485 says: Jun 20, 2014 2:44 PM

    Looks like a bitter Belichick hater looking for excuses for why the Patriots own that division. Oh, yeah…it MUST be espionage. It couldn’t possibly be that the Bills have been flat out bad for years, the Dolphins can’t handle their own house let alone focus on an opponent, or that Sanchise & Smith hand the ball back to the other team with too much regularity for any defense to keep up. No, no….it must be cheating, right? If you can beat ‘em, make excuses. A true Rex Ryan disciple.

  14. pascalswager42 says: Jun 20, 2014 2:51 PM

    Man is this crap blown out of proportion.

    Pettine provided honest insight to questions for this feature story on MMQB.

    Nothing less, nothing more.

    Amazing how bent out of shape everyone – including my fellow Browns fans – are getting about this.

    Glaze up, sons!

  15. omegalh says: Jun 20, 2014 2:53 PM

    Is this the plan to take the focus off Johnny Manzel? Have the coach say dumb things?

  16. wtfchiefs says: Jun 20, 2014 2:53 PM

    I really don’t think this is a big deal.

  17. jayblack073 says: Jun 20, 2014 2:54 PM

    The reason that this doesn’t matter is that you can just look at tape to see what defensive plays teams are running. Having the playbook just makes it less time consuming.

  18. kepdogg23 says: Jun 20, 2014 2:57 PM

    Hopefully it was Tebow’s personal playbook, they will practice against the 1 yard out, the worm burner, and the QB sneak.

  19. FlashPatterson says: Jun 20, 2014 2:58 PM

    Having the opponents playbook is helpful? No wonder they made him the coach, he’s way smarter than a normal person.

  20. rickrenteria says: Jun 20, 2014 3:01 PM

    Nobody wanted the Browns job so they ended up with this numbskull? Kinda surprising Manziel’s dad hasn’t lobbied Browns ownership for a coaching change.

  21. heisthejuan says: Jun 20, 2014 3:02 PM

    This got so blown out of proportion. Brady was probably joking. Pettine was probably joking. ESPN makes it sound like a capital offense.

  22. riggz91 says: Jun 20, 2014 3:03 PM

    Everyone assumed it was Pettine leaking info to the media during his time with the Jets. Judging from this it was probably right. Good riddance.

  23. jetsjetsjetsnow says: Jun 20, 2014 3:06 PM

    So as you are backtracking you are now condoning cheating… Nice work there Pettine…

    What a bonehead..

  24. surfinbird1 says: Jun 20, 2014 3:06 PM

    Can you say “back pedal” The horse is out of the barn meatball. It was great though to hear Rex at his news conference defend Belichick and go after Pettine. He would be smart to stay away from Rex for a while.

  25. drsummeroff says: Jun 20, 2014 3:09 PM

    No real surprise here. If there’s a way to cheat – The Pats and Seahawks will find it. Let’s move on.

  26. leksington says: Jun 20, 2014 3:09 PM

    conspiracybrotherjones says:
    Jun 20, 2014 2:26 PM
    He’s digging his own grave, and he probably won’t be lucky enough to eventually end up on TV after he’s blacklisted from the NFL like his hero Eric Mangini either

    ——————————————-

    Isn’t Mangini with the 49ers? Not much of a blacklisting if you ask me. I was sad to see him leave ESPN as he was providing bar none the best NFL analysis of anyone at the network.

  27. clbrwns says: Jun 20, 2014 3:14 PM

    I’m a huge Browns fan and like Pettine and where we’re going. Having said that, Mike stop talking. Nothing said is better. Don’t try to get the last word when you shouldn’t have said the first word!

  28. sicklnick121 says: Jun 20, 2014 3:21 PM

    uh ohhh, Manziel gave Gronk his play book in vegas…

  29. orangeisthenewblue says: Jun 20, 2014 3:28 PM

    A good coach will exploit weaknesses I think that’s all he is saying and I agree. Watching tape of an opponents practice before you play them… That’s cheating

  30. frenzy95 says: Jun 20, 2014 3:34 PM

    This is a brilliant move by Pettine. All of the focus on playbooks and off of Manziel.

  31. heisthejuan says: Jun 20, 2014 3:41 PM

    orangeisthenewblue says: Jun 20, 2014 3:28 PM

    A good coach will exploit weaknesses I think that’s all he is saying and I agree. Watching tape of an opponents practice before you play them… That’s cheating
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    That also never happened.

  32. kylexitron says: Jun 20, 2014 3:44 PM

    this guy is really trying to cement his role as yet another one-and-done browns coach.

  33. macbull says: Jun 20, 2014 3:48 PM

    Just a guess, but this discussion Pettine is having with the media about playbooks might have more to do with Mike Lombardi being spotted looking through Browns information while sitting beside Belichick at the combine.

    Might be that Lombardi left Cleveland with more than scouting information for the combine.

    Just a hunch, but Pettine seems to be sending a message to the Patriots about how they conduct their “business”.

  34. weepingjebus says: Jun 20, 2014 3:51 PM

    So PFT has confirmed that the Jets playbook is in fact on the Internet. This “scandal” is basically that the Patriots may or may not own a computer. What era is the Browns organization still in? “I was over at Brady’s house, and he had this magic light-o-box that showed moving pictures and made sounds. It’s witchcraft, witchcraft I say!”

  35. 34defense2014 says: Jun 20, 2014 3:52 PM

    What is he doing?!?!? He’s a first year Head Coach? Just keep your mouth shut and Coach!! Browns fans have been suffering enough since Good Ol’e Artie moved the Team!! I’m not a Browns fan! But enough already!! Just shut your mouth and do your job Mike!! Browns fans have suffered enough!!! Go make the Browns a Contender!! You have 2 good QB’s and hopefully you learned something from Rex about building a good Defense!!!

  36. thefiesty1 says: Jun 20, 2014 3:54 PM

    Saban would never give Bill B. another teams playbook.

  37. dietrich43 says: Jun 20, 2014 4:02 PM

    Ryan tried to throw the playbook at Welker’s feet, but Wes dropped the pass.

  38. lflib69 says: Jun 20, 2014 4:04 PM

    Macbull…just where did you get your info from? Were you sitting next to BB and Lombardi? You saw what they were doing? Is there an article to back that up..may have missed it.

  39. nooch24 says: Jun 20, 2014 4:10 PM

    Wouldn’t be the first time

  40. neatz says: Jun 20, 2014 4:18 PM

    Where is the evidence for any offence attributed to NE.
    Do you guys seriously think that these Billionaires who own other teams will play ball if you cheat them…. They did not become Billionaires by being Saints… They will drag Belichick and NE in Court.

  41. simonator917 says: Jun 20, 2014 4:32 PM

    But if Johnny Manziel was talking to PFT from Hawaii people would be howling about how he should be working instead of lounging in the sand.

  42. flexx91 says: Jun 20, 2014 4:34 PM

    Still better than the coloring books Mike Smith hands out to his Falcons players.

  43. politicallyincorrect says: Jun 20, 2014 4:37 PM

    don’t know why Pats.. Kraft and BB are so protected and promoted……. they are bad guys with little class

  44. lolo376 says: Jun 20, 2014 4:38 PM

    Until this story broke, I had no idea who the Cleveland coach was, and I think that was the point, he wants people to know who he is but picked the wrong way to go about it.

  45. lanman11 says: Jun 20, 2014 4:52 PM

    If he was just taking about how broad these things are, and he wasn’t accusing New England of any wrong doing, why did he say ““We know in places like New England, it’s only a matter of time that they somehow mysteriously end up with our playbook.” That’s an accusatory statement implying New England is doing something different that allows them to acquire your playbook. He’s obviously bitter about something and is using the stale “they must be cheating” sentiment to soothe his feelings. This guy clearly has not held a job of this magnitude. Perhaps Bill can show him how it’s done.

  46. idothis2 says: Jun 20, 2014 5:03 PM

    #jetsbeatthepatslasttimetheyplayed

  47. deacon85 says: Jun 20, 2014 5:09 PM

    So Mike Pettine is doing interviews trying to explain why he’s accusing/not accusing the Patriots of stealing/acquiring playbooks, while Bill Belichick is busy breaking down film of the Patriots opponents in the upcoming season. And people wonder why Belichick is so successful.

  48. patriotsarespygaters says: Jun 20, 2014 5:22 PM

    manigini is a consultant at the 49ers a very irrelevant post even tony dungy does the same thing with his nbc gig ….he is still blacklisted don’t get it twisted….pettine will most likely not last as a HC…

  49. truths4all says: Jun 20, 2014 5:56 PM

    Before this, I knew nothing about Pettine.

    Now I fear the Browns are doomed with such a clueless coach who is clearly not ready to be a NFL head coach. If there are pictures in Wiki for a stupid, clueless NFL head coach, Pettine is sure to be included.

    Poor Browns, I feel great sympathy for you. Your only saving grace is the head office has greatly fortified the defense, and Pettine may not step all over himself to keep Manziel off the field just to prove he wears the big pants. But don’t count on it as he seems really, really stupid.

  50. Ferdinand says: Jun 20, 2014 6:16 PM

    The GM and owner really need to pull Pettine aside and tell him to shut the hell up!

    I swear, he is in love with the press as much as his rookie he is supposed to instill some semblance of self-discipline into.

  51. xinellum says: Jun 20, 2014 6:22 PM

    Everyone in the world knows the Patriots illegally taped teams, lied on injury reports and stole playbooks. Since they have been watched closely and shut down, so called superstar Brady and Bellicek haven’t won a Super Bowl when they were a “supposed” dynasty. Hard to figure out. Not for me. No cheat, no win, Patriots.

  52. ripitupsports says: Jun 20, 2014 6:43 PM

    Question #1: If it’s not that big of a deal, then why is Rex and BB so bent about it?

    Question #2: If it is a big deal, why would anyone be upset with Pettine about bringing that kind of practice to light?

    I’m 100% sold on Pettine and his crew. This guy just threw down the gaunlet and is ready to take on the big boys of the NFL. Could it backfire and destroy his credibility if the Browns continue to lose? Sure. What if they win though, does making statements like that galvanize the coaches and players? Will they use all this negative media bs to assert themselves in a fashion that finally makes the Browns a formidable opponent? I am going to say…absolutely. These guys are not messin around and are going to smack some teams right in the mouth come September. Every dog has his day and all the people using the “same ‘ol Browns” rhetoric will be eating their words.

  53. mrfrostyj says: Jun 20, 2014 7:13 PM

    Does the media not speak the same language as Mike Pettine?

    Pettine says Bryan Hoyer is the starter and the media translates that to “Johnny Manziel is the best QB ever”.

    Now Pettine tells a story who’s obvious point was to say Rex Ryan is a moron (which we all knew anyway) and the media comes back with “Why would he insult Belichick like that?”

    Am I taking crazy pills or something?

  54. TheWizard says: Jun 20, 2014 7:27 PM

    Isn’t Mangini with the 49ers? Not much of a blacklisting if you ask me

    The guy is coaching poison and everybody, knows it.

    Mr. Unknown who hasn’t even coached his first game yet should know better.

    The Rex coaching tree is actually a cactus.

  55. brownout19 says: Jun 20, 2014 7:27 PM

    If Pettine is a good or great coach, we’ll find out soon enough. This will have absolutely nothing to do with how successful or unsuccessful he is as a coach. Amazing to me how some people use a comment about play books to judge a coaches abilities. The games can’t start soon enough. Tired of all this meaningless crap that gets turned into football news.

  56. pittsteelers101 says: Jun 20, 2014 7:30 PM

    Pettine is a garbage can! He was the unnamed source that Manish Mehta was using! Bet the over in every browns game ! Coaches are going to run the score up on him because of him being a rat! If it wasn’t for Rex he would be coaching high school football still!

  57. scw1993 says: Jun 20, 2014 8:13 PM

    You want to make accusations against a team, you better have what it takes to back it up.You can’t unring the bell, just as Mangini has discovered. Pettine is already a pariah, kiss him goodbye.

  58. kd75 says: Jun 20, 2014 11:18 PM

    I never would have thought a team is going to blitz a safety on third down…

  59. campcouch says: Jun 20, 2014 11:25 PM

    Guess what,he’s on a vacation in Hawaii. I doubt he cares.

  60. piratefreedom says: Jun 20, 2014 11:57 PM

    dabears2485 says: Jun 20, 2014 2:44 PM

    Looks like a bitter Belichick hater looking for excuses for why the Patriots own that division. Oh, yeah…it MUST be espionage. It couldn’t possibly be that the Bills have been flat out bad for years, the Dolphins can’t handle their own house let alone focus on an opponent, or that Sanchise & Smith hand the ball back to the other team with too much regularity for any defense to keep up. No, no….it must be cheating, right? If you can beat ‘em, make excuses. A true Rex Ryan disciple.
    ————————
    A little unfair on Rex.
    Rex makes a lot of promises and mistakes, often in combination, but I don’t think he makes a lot of excuses

  61. ubepunkedagain says: Jun 21, 2014 7:41 AM

    Hey Florio, they are putting Cleveland Browns Billboards up in Texas. They are paid for and signed by former Cowboy fans. You can write another Manziel article!!

  62. bcgreg says: Jun 21, 2014 7:46 AM

    This explanation, while interesting, will not stop the haters because they simply don’t get it.

  63. billsfan1 says: Jun 21, 2014 9:29 AM

    You would get more from watching video, seeing how they line up in different situations.. Trying to guess and learn 30 of. 80 plays would be like a needle in a haystack …

  64. mtrhead269 says: Jun 21, 2014 1:28 PM

    I thought Pettine was a “Defensive Guru?”

    2013 Bills Points Allowed 24.2 21st in league.
    2012 Jets Points Allowed 23.4 20th. in league.
    2011 Jets Points Allowed 22.7 19th. in league.
    2010 Jets Points Allowed 19.2 5th. in league.

    I guess every team on the schedule had thir gameplans nevermind the playbook.

    This guy is another “Mangenius”

  65. mtrhead269 says: Jun 21, 2014 1:35 PM

    Everyone in the world knows the Patriots illegally taped teams, lied on injury reports and stole playbooks. Since they have been watched closely and shut down, so called superstar Brady and Bellicek haven’t won a Super Bowl when they were a “supposed” dynasty. Hard to figure out. Not for me. No cheat, no win, Patriots.

    Best Record in the league since 2007. Opps you forgot that stat.

    4 AFC championship games since 2007.

    Yea your right they dont win EVER.

    Been Shut down from what? Injury report? Really that the best you got is to look at a teams injury reporting?

    Havent won a superbowl since 2004, not sure what your point is there about 26 teams have not won since 2004 some never.

  66. johnny1979 says: Jun 21, 2014 1:43 PM

    Pettine is a bum, and he’ll be a disaster for 1 year as the Browns head coach

    FACTORY OF SADNESS

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