Mike Pettine fails to honor the Lou Holtz code, for no good reason


Lou Holtz, with cartoonish delivery and over-the-top hyperbole, set an important example for all football coaches: Always heap praise on the upcoming opponent. Browns coach Mike Pettine opted not to follow that well-worn path on Wednesday.

Asked if quarterback Russell Wilson, who plays for the Seahawks team that Cleveland will face on Sunday, is a “top-10 quarterback,” Pettine said this: “He has ascended. He plays at a high level. He is very productive and they win. A lot of that I think is a function, too, of him being the perfect quarterback for what they do. To me, it goes both ways. They have also built it around him. Would you put him up there with the guys that can transcend their supporting cast – the Bradys, Aaron Rodgers, Brees, Roethlisberger, the ones that you would consider the two, three, four elite guys? But, no, he’s certainly played himself into that next tier.”

(Curiously, the typed version of Pettine’s comments, as generated by the Browns, doesn’t include the word “no”; the actual video of the media session does. The ESPN.com version of the comments erroneously puts the word “no” in a spot that makes it even more conspicuous.)

It was a strange, curious, and gratuitous slight from Pettine. He was asked whether Wilson is a top-10 quarterback, not whether Wilson is among the top two, three, or four quarterbacks. The safe, easy, and accurate answer would have been, “Absolutely. The guy has thrown 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last four games, and he hasn’t had Marshawn Lynch for any of them and Jimmy Graham for more than half of them.”

Indeed, Wilson has played so well over the last month that, even though the Seahawks are 8-5, Wilson has begun to generate serious MVP talk — despite Cam Newton’s candidacy with the 13-0 Panthers.

Later in the day, Wilson was asked about Pettine’s comments. As usual, Wilson took the high road. [Editor’s note: The high road is boring.]

“I don’t worry about all of that,” Wilson said. “I think it comes down to winning games. Winning a lot of football games, I think that’s the ultimate measure of a quarterback so that’s the only thing I care about.”

Even at 8-5, the Seahawks have won nearly as many games as the Browns have won in the last two seasons combined. Since 2012, Wilson and the Seahawks have won 50 total games. That’s exactly the same number the Browns have won . . . since 2006.

134 responses to “Mike Pettine fails to honor the Lou Holtz code, for no good reason

  1. Pettine is showing his stupidity now on a weekly basis. Even if you don’t believe it, don’t say it and give the QB and opposing tea, extra motivation. This guy really doesn’t know how to “play the game” as an NFL coach.

  2. I think we already covered this. Most people agree but an opposing head coach would only say it if he was an idiot and a clown. Mike Pettine is an idiot and a clown just like his mentor Rex Ryan. The difference is that he isn’t entertaining too.

  3. It would have been awesome if Russell Wilson had said “Mike Pettine is the worst head coach in the league. He didn’t do anything to deserve the job and the Browns should fire him after the season.”

  4. Two stories on Pettine are two stories too many. Next year this time no one will remember his stint as the Browns head coach except him while he’s OC’ing for a community college.

  5. Pettine is better served spending his time trying to suck up to as many NFL contacts as he can, chances are he’s looking for work in less than a month.

    Any one from the past decade from the Cleveland organization has zero qualifications to be evaluating QBs.

  6. So in about 3 seasons the seahawks have won as many as the Browns have in nearly a decade..while everyone is enamored with giving Kam the bulk of his team’s credit Wilson has performing better overall and not just in the last 4 games. The main difference is what Wilson pointed out which is wins and is the main reason Kam is going to win MVP bc as a passer he’s average ad a runner he’s slightly better but less predictive overall than Wilson. We can debate until our face turns blue whether the Panthers have been impressive overall or if their historically terrible schedule is the main reason for that. For me I DON’T CARE bc they still showed up and played the game, I’m sure it matters to their overall record but what can you do with hypotheticals.

    Despite many ignorant fans Wilson has been the most successful qb of all time so far into his career with wins qtr rushing passing etc etc. His defense is so rare it’s hard to share the love with Wilson bc he’s done it unconventionally like Kam is now doing with stout defense and clutch qb play(Kam is getting the credit though)..

    This was a pretty big mistep by pettine bc he said that Wilson doesn’t make his team better. Which is clearly false with how Wilson has shouldered the burden of one of the worst NFL olines and is doing this without a top end TE and a to 3 RB and even another top 10 RB who developed behind Lynch. If Wilson couldn’t run he would have been on IR for the last 2-3 years bc his line has been bottom 5 almost every year.

    In my opinion Wilson has been the reason why the seahawks have been a top 10 offense every year he’s been on the team. Lynch wasnt killing it and considered top 5 before Wilson’s threat to pass and run. I don’t want to say lynch wasn’t good but Wilson has benefited players around him. Now he’s making drug Baldwin and undersized undrafted player into a top 10 WR.. He was also DRUNK when he said Wilson is more of a runner than Manziel. That’s just ridiculous Johnny can can barely pass while RW tied the rookie record for most passing TDS by a rookie on a run first team.

  7. I legitimately think Pettine just views certain football things as B&W with no nuance. He thinks “Good football QBs hang in the pocket. Bad ones don’t.”

    Let’s face it – even if he had Wilson on his roster, he’d still play the “name the starting QB” dance between Wilson and Austin Davis, or McCown, or whatever other “pocket QB” he had on his roster.

    This B&W line of thinking is what led a certain QB to demand non-pocket plays/concepts get removed from the playbook. He’s been inactive all season.

  8. I tend to think too much gets made about stuff like this.
    Wilson does have to keep doing it consistently before being put in the same category as those guys.

    Still, it was a stupid answer

  9. This coming from the idiot coach who’s only claim to fame is, “his dad was a pretty good high school coach in Pennsylvania.”

    Mike, what do you have in Johnny Football? How would you know?

    Pettine wouldn’t know what to do with Otto Graham, Jim Brown, LeRoy Kelly, Paul Warfield, and Ozzie Newsome.

    Mother Pettine and the “Sisters of Perpetual Sorrow” coaching staff would’ve kept Namath & Favre on the bench for throwing back a few brews on a day off.

  10. Le Gasp!

    BSPN changing the storyline to generate sensationalism?

    The World Sports Leader that hires honest journalists and sports expert like Chris “My source is more important than the truth” Mortensen?

    I feel faint from the shock! I think I’m gonna pass ou……..

  11. No shocker there, this clown is about to get “tossed” out the door anyway. Hope they don’t review this video when he’s looking for new employment !

  12. I do love that he also did not mention any quarterback the Browns have had in years as being “elite”. At least he knows what’s what.

  13. At nearly every opportunity, Pettine shows that he doesn’t have the mental capacity be a good HC in the NFL.

  14. “Since 2012, Wilson and the Seahawks have won 50 total games. That’s exactly the same number the Browns have won . . . since 2006.”


  15. That probably is the dumbest thing ever. Why call out a great player like that. He’s had some of the greatest success of a young QB in history. Cleveland are the worst team in the league going on the road to Seattle. It’s going to be ugly. I will say something like 45-0 Seattle.

  16. No one contested that he was propped up by a system Mike. That’s already accepted as a given truth. Of course the coaches’ agenda cost the team the super bowl. If you don’t believe that, ask Beast Mode Lynch.

  17. Brilliant strategy by Pettine. He’s insulting Wilson knowing that it’s going to piss him off, fire him up, and cause him to make poor decisions like throwing into triple coverage to “prove Pettine wrong”, resulting in turnovers. The Browns will pull off the shocking upset, gain confidence, and ride the momentum to the Lombardi trophy next season. One of the greatest coaching moves I’ve ever seen!

  18. Saying he isn’t one of the top four QBs isn’t a slight since he isn’t one of the top 4 QBs.

    Funny how sports writers are now all on Wilson when they have hardly given the guy credit throughout his career.

  19. Pettine might be an idiot who can’t coach his way out of a paper bag, but the media just LOVES to pile on the Browns. We get it. We suck.

    This may be the worst coached team I’ve ever seen. The GM thinks he’s the smartest man in the NFL because he doesn’t need to draft playmakers. The owner is in Tennessee 5-6 days a week pumping gas for truckers. There’s no leadership and most likely…. Nothing will change.

  20. Russell Wilson was a 2 star recruit out of high school, selected 75th in the draft, and won the super bowl playing as a game manager on a team with an outstanding defense and stellar run game. No one anywhere has ever thought Russell Wilson was among the top quarterbacks. Why should Mike Pettine be any different?

  21. Pettine is an idiot, but on this particular point he is right. Wilson is good, but not top 5. He’s somewhere between 6 and 15.

  22. Two things we know as fact.

    1. Wilson’s been the best QB in NFL history through three seasons and 13 games.

    2.No QB in NFL history has ever put four consecutive games together as good as the four Wilson just completed.

    Those as just facts.

  23. Seriously, what was this guy thinking? He’s the coach of the Browns. Even Bill Belichick makes sure to praise every team and player they come across. Just this week he called the Titans’ offense an “explosive group.” Seriously, the Tennessee Titans.

  24. The answer to the question is out of context, It was a follow up to a question he was asked before R Wilson was drafted, and the question was asked as, so what do you think now? He is saying that he is not in the Brady, Manning, Roethlisberger level, meaning elite, but right below that, in a 2nd tier, but Pettine still shouldn’t give them any bulliten board material, like they Hawks need that anyway….

  25. The Browns don’t have a chance in that game regardless of the bulletin board material. So what’s wrong with being honest? Good on ya Pet!

  26. Just shorten the headline to “Mike Pettine fails” and that covers it.

    Seahawks could cause an early Black Monday in Cleveland if they drop a 50 burger and shut them out.

  27. Clearly Pettine is the worst coach in the NFL. What is not clear is why you are obsessed with with the daily dispatches from the bone head.

  28. “Russell, Russell, did you hear what Pettine said about you not being a top-10 quarterback? Did ya? Did ya? What do you say about that? Do you have anything to say in response to him? Do ya?”

    There are grown men who do that for a living and actually look at themselves in the mirror the next morning.

  29. It’s ironic that the Browns coach will put his foot in his own mouth after these comments, because the rest of the league has put their foot in the Browns behinds since 1999.

  30. This story is so ridiculous. Getting slammed for saying Russell Wilson isn’t in the top 4 or 5, but right after that in the next group? Really? That’s an insult?

    Funny, because if you asked 99% of the people slamming Pettine were asked to rank all the QBs they’d put Wilson right where Pettine is

  31. Great, loyal fanbase, but…

    Pettine is a buffoon.

    The owner is a buffoon.

    The organization is a farce.


  32. Maybe Vegas can add the cherry on top and make the Browns favorites…I mean they did make a Seahawk team with a losing record favorites over the undefeated Panthers earlier in the year, so why not?

  33. This 52-0 beat down will simply be one more nail in Pettine’s coffin……

    Those kinds of comments just go to show that he’s not head coaching material.

  34. Someone ask Wilson if he thinks Pettine is among the top three or four head coaches in the NFL and watch hilarity ensue.

  35. Pettine will be looking for a new job in about 3 weeks. Freaking idiot to stir the pot before they come to Seattle for a serious butt spanking. Seattle is so very lucky to have found Wilson still available in the 3rd round in 2012. Pete and the boys always seem to get it together when it counts. Will be interesting to see how this whole thing pans out over the next 6 weeks. Go ‘hawks!

  36. He’s a defensive specialist as a coach on a team with a terrible defense. He’s hoping to get fired at this point to get away from this dysfunctional franchise, Johnny nightmare, meddling GM, meddling owner, no obvious sign of structure in the front office.

  37. This guy is a total joke and a liability to whatever NFL team employs him (which will not be the Cleveland Browns…or the Seattle Seahawks…in 2016). Why is he even commenting on other teams’ players?

    WIN. A. GAME. Then your opinion might matter.

    Until then, keep your mouth shut and just enjoy the last three weeks of that frat party you call your coaching staff.

    This guy is more responsible for the Browns’ woes than most people outside of that building even know.

  38. Maybe he’s just tired of giving you (the unimaginative press) the same boring ass answer to the question… “Is he elite?”

    I get that it’s now being phrased as “Top 10” but the basis behind the question is still the same.

  39. Not one of the best 4 QBs in the World but only challenging for the 5th spot? I can’t imagine a more “gratuitous slight” than that! Especially to an 8-5 team! What a wretched cur that Pettine fellow is!

    But hang on, a coach like Belichick gets flak when he always politely praises upcoming opponents. So it seems the window for an HC to express any such opinion and not generate negative reaction is not that wide – maybe about the size just big enough for a higgs-boson to get through (if you flatten it out and squeeze it through sideways).

  40. Pettine is an NFL coach that has watched more film in one week than nearly everyon reading this site has in their combined lives, and he’s absolutely correct. The Seattle staff (primarily Darrell Bevell) has done a phenomenal job of squeezing every ounce of production possible from a guy that is obviously limited as a passer. He’s not a great QB, and that’s okay. He’s obviously good enough to be successful, and very good with the right coaching and scheme.

  41. “Wilson has played so well over the last month that, even though the Seahawks are 8-5, Wilson has begun to generate serious MVP talk”

    From who? No, seriously, who exactly is talking about Russell Wilson as MVP? I realize that so many players have been called candidates this year that it’s getting easier to name those who haven’t, but I haven seen Wilson’s name bandied about anywhere other than here.

    Slow down there, big fella. MVP’s not a three week award. How about we wait and see how it plays out? I don’t think anyone is falling all over themselves to give the MVP award to the QB of a team that is fighting for their playoff lives after two consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

  42. So a guy wasn’t PC about a question. I guess he should’ve said how 13k in passing yards doesn’t put him up there with Brady, the Mannings, Rodgers, Brees or Roethliesberger. He is one spot above Josh McNown on the career yardage mark. Teams worry more about Lynch and Seattle’s D than they do Wilson. When he starts to put up the numbers his current streak is at on a yearly basis and teams start planning for him then yeah, he’ll be elite.

  43. Hmm, let’s see. The 2011 Seahawks team with the LOB and Marshawn Lynch goes 7-9 and averages 20 ppg while Wilson is still at Wisconsin. The 2012 team goes 11-5 and averages 26 ppg while Wilson ties Peyton Manning’s rookie TD pass record (with only 10 INT instead of 28). 98 TD passes to 33 INT in his first 61 games. Second only to Aaron Rodgers in career passer rating and has a career ypa of 8.1. Sure seems like the defense and running backs throw some great passes in Seattle, like NFC-championship winning deep TD passes to undrafted Jermaine Kearse in consecutive seasons. Nothing to see here; just your run of the mill first 3 NFL seasons as a young QB. Still not top 10 yet, I guess.

  44. It’s OK though… Pettine isn’t really a head football coach…

    Jimmy took him out of one of his Flying J stores.

    And, are the Browns really a pro team?

    They’ve had more QB’s since 1999 than college teams have had since 1999.

  45. Man, I’ll tell you what. The Browns are not very good. But what they do have is a fairly decent offense, when the weapons are rolling.

    The ‘Hawks fans better watch what they say, even Jimmy Clausen was able to throw for almost 300 on that D…..

  46. Give Pettine credit. He could have taken the easy, PC way out, but he gave you an even more accurate and honest answer. Nobody would put Wilson above those QB’s he mentioned, and Wilson’s recent performance could be just temporary. The guy gave you an honest heartfelt answer that was actually flattering to Wilson. I have to say I like Pettine more today than I dd yesterday, and I knew little about him yesterday.

  47. Who has the 2nd highest career QB rating in the history of the NFL? Russell Wilson.

    Who has the best winning percentage in his first 60 games of any QB in the history of the NFL? Russell Wilson.

    Who is the coach of a crappy losing team with a mediocre QB with a drinking problem? Mike Pettine.

  48. We welcome the fine folks of the Cleveland football team to our beautiful Emerald City in the great PNW this Sunday. Please enjoy all the wonderful attractions during your visit. Unfortunately for the fine fans of Cleveland, your dumbass coach just awoke a sleeping giant. Happy holidays!

  49. Pettine would trade Johnny for Russell in a heartbeat… However, I doubt Ray Farmer would do the deal…

    I just want the Browns to win, not be a continual laughing stock.

  50. Mike Pettine is the epitome of stupidity. This guy loves the microphone.

    He really should hate it because he says 5 stupid things every press conference.

    Its amazing the lack of intelligence this guy exhibits. And he’s going to worry about Johnny having fun on his bye weeks.

    He can’t even do his own job like properly evaluate who the best QB on his roster is. He’s more worried about punishing his QB for nothing. He can’t even manage the clock.

    He’s more interested in telling TV reporters for Johnny to stay in the pocket, which is exactly what Marvin Lewis wanted.

    I hope you can retire on your money from the Browns because no orgnaization would be dumb enough to hire you again. Talk about distractions. You are 1 big distraction Pettine.

  51. starrfavrerodgers says:
    Dec 16, 2015 11:50 PM
    Winning games is the ultimate measurement of a football team, not of a quarterback


    It’s the ultimate measure of both. Name the last great quarterback who didn’t win football games.

  52. I guess his 10-19 coaching record gives him the license to be a top tier evaluator of quarterbacks across the league. What a turd this guy is.

  53. This guy is classic, never forget him being interviewed entering halftime stating “I need Johnny to play from the pocket in the second half..” And a second later the opposing coach says “..we want to keep Johnny in the pocket..”. The opposing coach did win the game, just saying.

  54. Also odd that he said that Wilson takes a lot of hits because of his running style.

    Except he doesn’t because he knows how to avoid hits getting out of bounds or sliding. He’s actually extraordinarily elusive and effective at avoiding big hits never having appeared on an injury report in his four years in the league.

    Pettine is supposed to be watching hours of film to prepare for his next opponent, and to prepare his team. Yet he is patently wrong about Wilson’s running style; he’s commenting like a fan and not a coach. Very bizarre.

  55. translation we gave the seahawks something too blow us out with ugh
    2-3 hours after the game
    we do not have a fighting chance
    who wants too bet haslam those not make the trip or he does attend the game too Seattle too see this crushing/embrassing loss
    we browns fans hoping too have heads rolls afterward

  56. The whole thing is funny because Pettine wouldn’t know a top 10 QB if one kissed him in the face.

  57. How is Brady not in the same category? His career is built on 3 step drops, quick slants and screen passes (high percentage passes- meaning easy). Put him on any other team where he has to drop back, read through progressions and make 20 yd passes (in the air) and how good would he be??? Having to take hits and sacks. 90% of his passes are ones a high school QB can make- the blocking schemes that turns 3 yd passes into 12 or 17 yd plays is what makes that team great, not the guy throwing the ball 3 yds.

  58. Of course Wilson is a top 10 quarterback this season,he replaces Peyton Manning in that small circle but when you really think of the quarterbacks around the NFL you would be hard pressed to choose 6 through 10 after a certain 1-5 so Wilson fits in that 6-10 gap and without his superior running ability and speed he probably wouldnt be there at all.

  59. The Chip on your shoulder makes you play better. Russell in on Pettine’s Fantasy football team. It’s all about the points in FF!

  60. More honesty in interviews is a good thing. People think it’s classy to add mounds of fluff when talking about opponents, but I contend that being more truthful is classier.

  61. I am not familiar with the Lou Holtz code but I do know Holtz is an absolutely terrible excuse for a human being, so I’m gonna side with Pettine here.

  62. He gives his opinion, and then gets hammered for it. And if he said yes, he does belong up there with Rogers, Brady and Big Ben, then every Packer, Patriot, and Steeler fan would be on here bashing him for that. No win question….

  63. If you ever need a reminder of how good Tom Brady is, all you need to do is look at the Super Bowl record book, which has basically turned into Brady’s autobiography.

    football fanatic posted this for you. Tom can only play what the defense gives him, so you want him to throw into coverage? Well that worked well for Wilson in the last super bowl didn’t it?
    This is one of the google searches on Tom:
    The Patriots quarterback practically rewrote the record book during New England’s 28-24 win over Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX. Brady broke, tied or extended eight Super Bowl records in the Patriots win.

    Among the records that Brady broke were: Most completions in a game (37), most completions in a half (20), most Super Bowl starts (6) and most career touchdown passes in the Super Bowl (13).

    Brady’s 37 completions broke Peyton Manning’s old record of 34, which was set last season in Denver’s 43-8 loss to Seattle.

  64. haha. So I have a good joke..

    A guy from Cleveland is talking trash about another football team.

    I’ll be here all week folks.

  65. Hmmm…

    Wilson has a 145.9 passer rating the past four games and is the first QB in NFL history to have a rating of at least 138.5 in four consecutive games.

  66. dzimas61 says:
    Dec 17, 2015 2:40 AM
    The funny thing is that Pettine could only hope that Manziel has a quarter of the success Wilson has had.

    No, actually Pettine wants Manziel to fail so he can then say, “I told you so.” (With Pettine you have to think of a 8 yr old, who just got scolded.)

  67. if Rodney Harrison had made the same comments about Wilson, he would be lauded for his candor and willingness to not pandor to the players simply because he used to play. Its interesting how one persons opinion could be called honest and forthwright (Harrison), and another’s could be called ” a strange, curious, and gratuitous slight” (Pettine)

  68. Give me good old Bum Phillips who once called a press conference after beating the Cowboys and said, “Remember when I told y’all that this was just another game? Well, I lied.” Now that how to handle the media.

  69. footballfanatic says:
    Dec 17, 2015 8:02 AM
    How is Brady not in the same category? His career is built on 3 step drops, quick slants and screen passes (high percentage passes- meaning easy). Put him on any other team where he has to drop back, read through progressions and make 20 yd passes (in the air) and how good would he be??? Having to take hits and sacks. 90% of his passes are ones a high school QB can make- the blocking schemes that turns 3 yd passes into 12 or 17 yd plays is what makes that team great, not the guy throwing the ball 3 yds.

    Brady averages the same yards per completion as other QBs, and no team runs out and throws 20 yard (in the air) passes all game, unless you want to talk about the 2007 Patriots.

    If high school QBs could function in the system, then either a) Everyone would be using this system that’s won 4 SBs, or b) You think any QB in the league could take Brady’s place.

  70. footballfanatic says:
    Dec 17, 2015 8:02 AM
    How is Brady not in the same category? His career is built on 3 step drops, quick slants and screen passes (high percentage passes- meaning easy). Put him on any other team where he has to drop back, read through progressions and make 20 yd passes (in the air) and how good would he be??? Having to take hits and sacks. 90% of his passes are ones a high school QB can make- the blocking schemes that turns 3 yd passes into 12 or 17 yd plays is what makes that team great, not the guy throwing the ball 3 yds.
    Joe Montana’s career YPC was 7.5 on 3,409 completions. Tom Brady’s is 7.4 on 4,896 completions. These two are generally regarded as the two best to ever play the position. Who care’s how far you throw it? Win’s and championships are what counts. Wilson has had a great start to his career but let’s see what he does in the next 10 years.

  71. I couldn’t care less if people think Russell Wilson is considered “elite” at this stage in his career. What I do know is that he is winning now, and the Seahawks have a legitimate shot at winning Superbowls with him at quarterback. Everything else is irrelevant noise.

    First Four years of their careers

    W/L TD/Int Rating Superbowls

    RW 44/17 98/33 101.3 1
    TB 48/14 97/52 87.7 3
    PM 32/32 111/81 85.2 0
    DB 33/31 79/53 86.0 0
    AR 41/21 131/37 101.7 1
    BR 44/20 84/54 80.5 1

    Russell Wilson compares favorably with any of the elite quarterbacks in their first 4 yrs.

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