BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine was on the job less than three weeks when two of the people involved in his hiring were fired in a restructuring of the organization.
Pettine said Thursday the shake-up was never discussed during the interview process and described the moves as "controversial and shocking." Still, he has little choice but to embrace the changes and the opportunity to work with new general manager Ray Farmer.
"It was a clear message from the owner of his commitment to bringing stability to the franchise looking forward," Pettine said. "I think it shows a commitment by the owner that he realized there were some issues and he wanted to make things right. As controversial as it was and as shocking as it was, I think that he's a believer and he wasn't going to let things stay the way they were."
On Tuesday, owner Jimmy Haslam announced that CEO Joe Banner will leave after helping with the transition, general manager Michael Lombardi was out immediately and Farmer was promoted from assistant GM. Banner and Haslam fired first-year coach Rob Chudzinski after a 4-12 season, the team's sixth straight with at least 11 losses.
Pettine is a first-time head coach, and Farmer a first-time GM. Farmer arrived in Cleveland in March, and Pettine on Jan. 23 after a 25-day coaching search. Pettine stressed the importance of their relationship and the instant connection they shared.
"I think the GM-coach relationship has to be the best in the building, because if they're not on the same page, then not much is going to get done," Pettine said. "I think we've already gotten a great start to it. "I can already tell we're going to have a tremendous relationship. From the moment that I met him, I think it was very natural, our conversations, our philosophy about football, the draft, free agency, how to build a team."