You never forget your first job in the NFL.
Mike Pettine certainly hasn't forgotten his -- a gig in the Ravens' video department in 2002.
Twelve years later, Pettine returns to his old stomping grounds as the head coach of the Browns, with a little something extra on the line.
Pettine spoke yesterday about the significance of Sunday's matchup between the Browns and Ravens, and much more on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast, hosted by Ross Tucker and Anthony McFarland.
Pettine provided plenty of interesting quotes, but I have compiled the five best ones below. You can also listen to the complete podcast below. Pettine's interview runs from about the 25:00 mark to about the 40:00 mark.
1. Expect a retro, grind-it-out game against the Ravens.
Pettine foresees Sunday's game as one that will be won in the trenches:
"I think this will be an old school AFC North matchup. They want to run the ball. The 60-some passing attempts in week one, I don't think that's what they want to be. We saw much more of it [the run] on the Thursday night game against Pittsburgh. This is a really good offensive line. I think their backs are very underrated. They obviously have some weapons on offense. The addition of Steve Smith was big for them, it provides such a spark, such energy for them on offense. Then you have Flacco, who looks to be playing much better. Obviously he can make all of the throws and he's doing a good job this year of getting the ball out and getting it distributed. On the other side of the ball, they're very deep. They're just fundamentally sound. It's very to hard to hit a big play on them, they're going to make you earn it and drive the length of the field. I think the strength of that group is that they have four outside linebackers who can set that edge and rush the passer. I'm very familiar with Suggs, having been there when they drafted him and coaching him. Then you throw in a [Pernell] McPhee and an [Courtney] Upshaw and a [Elvis] Dumervil and they can just roll those guys in and keep them fresh. That can cause some problems."
2. The Browns' cornerbacks are making progress.
Speaking about Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert, Pettine said:
"We know there's room for improvement. But those guys come into work every day and put the time in the meeting room, on the practice field, and it will pay dividends. Everybody just looks at the two plays Joe gave up to Jimmy Graham, but outside of that, he actually played really well. It was just those two plays where he was in good coverage but just couldn't make a play against an elite receiver. I don't want to have that overreaction: 'Hey, he got beat twice.' When you look at the game in its entirety, it was a solid performance for him. But he needs to make those plays, especially when it's crunch time. We were really pleased with Justin Gilbert, being able to bounce back. He did not have a great opening day performance against Pittsburgh and came back and was up to the challenge. He went out there and competed and had fun. It was good to see him take some strides."
Pettine even tossed in some praised for Buster Skrine.
"We're very pleased with him. He's a guy who flies under the radar between Joe and Justin. He's been really solid for us."
3. Paul Kruger has bought in to Pettine's philosophy.
Thanks to Pettine's coaching, this Browns outside linebacker is now a force to be reckoned with:
"I've overused the phrase, but he's bought in. When we first got here, we had some issues with how he was playing the run and aiming points. He was running up the field. We have a saying in the defensive room, you can't get a sack on a running play. So we tightened down his aiming points and he became much better in his defense of the run. With those edge rushers, we like to turn them loose a little bit and give them a little bit of freedom and allow the inside guys sometimes to make them right so we don't always have to say, 'Hey, we have to contain the quarterback.' We do have some freedom to take an inside entry if we get overset. He just has a great feel for rushing the passer. If a tackle oversets him, he knows that he can come underneath or if a guy sets up short. He's excellent with his hands. He's very violent and it's been good to see. He gave us the buy-in and we're getting results on the field."
4. Kyle Shanahan has done a great job thus far.
Two games into the season, Pettine is impressed with the job his offensive coordinator has done:
"He's done just an outstanding job game planning the first two weeks. We lost those guys [Josh Gordon, Ben Tate, Jordan Cameron]. There's some staffs at times that have built-in excuses, you just lament the [players] you don't have. I've always been a believer in [the fact that] you can't win with players you don't have. It's all on us as coaches to put together a plan and maximizes our chances to win with the guys we have available. I think Kyle, in that sense, is amazing."
5. The Manziel Package is still in the playbook.
Pettine likes what he sees in Johnny Manziel, and wants to use him in the best way possible:
"The few plays Johnny was in there, he did his job, and that's something that will on be the table each week to discuss and just kind of weigh it in the cost/benefit of, 'Hey, are we forcing another team to prepare for a zone read?' Having been on the other side, if you don't prepare for it and you don'g handle it well, you can give up some big plays. At the same time, we don't want to disrupt our own chemistry, our own continuity. It's something we'll discuss each week. We want to see Johnny develop, but he can only get so many reps in practice and if we can balance it and get the best of both worlds, then you might continue to see us using him in small doses."
And to conclude this piece, here is the best of the rest -- some interesting one-liners from Pettine:
On Hoyer: "We're very pleased with Brian, for him to be able to start the drive at the end at almost the five yard line and drive us 80+ yards to make the game-winning field goal, and to make some clutch throws.
On Karlos Dansby: "He's an ultimate pro as far as how he prepares himself."
On talking with former staffers of the opposing team to game plan: "It truly doesn't help. I think that's a little bit overrated."
On getting the game ball after the win over the Saints: "Hoyer presented it to me in the locker room afterwards. It didn't really hit me until I got into the tunnel and my two oldest kids were waiting for me there and ran over. I held it together as best I could, the guys were giving me a hard time. But it was emotional."