BEREA, Ohio — With a second straight losing season sinking to its final hours, Browns coach Mike Pettine isn’t getting misty-eyed or gloomy.
There’s no guarantee he’ll have a job after Sunday, but Pettine isn’t growing melancholy.
He simply wants to finish what he started.
"I love it here," he said. "I love what I do. I know it’s easy to get wrapped up and let the negativity pull you down, but I’m the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and I will be the head coach until I’m told not to."
Pettine said he has been given no assurances from owner Jimmy Haslam that he’ll be back for a third season. And anyway, he hasn’t asked for any promises.
"I’m just not wired that way," he said Thursday. "I constantly preach to the players: worry about things you have control over, and what’s going to happen. And what that decision ends up being is, how I control it is how I prepare the team each week. I throw everything I have into that. Do you think about it? Of course, you do, but it’s not how I’m wired to be stressed about it."
Pettine is 10-21 since taking over the Browns, and just 3-17 in his last 20 games. There’s a good chance the season finale against Pittsburgh will be Pettine’s last game with the Browns, who seem to change coaching staffs every two years and have been nearly as swift in overhauling their front office.
Pettine was brought in by Haslam to change Cleveland’s culture and revitalize a franchise that has been to the playoffs just once since 1999 and endured 13 double-digit loss seasons in 17 years.
He’s come up short, but not for lack of trying.
"It’s a bottom line business, and if I just pull myself back from it and put myself elsewhere and look in, the record is not good," said Pettine, whose job security has been in doubt most of this season. "But given the circumstances that we were in when we got here and given the history of when you look back at what had occurred here before we got here and kind of the state of things, I don’t think anybody thought it was going to be a quick turnaround based on where we are.
"I’m competitive — just like our players, we want them to be competitive, prideful. I absolutely want to be able to finish out and then some, but again, that’s out of my control. I feel like we’ve planted seeds for growth for the future. That foundation is here, but we’ll just have to wait and see how that plays out."
Haslam has given no indication about the short-term plans for his team. He has not spoken publicly in weeks, leading to endless speculation about the future of Pettine and his staff. When training camp opened in August, Haslam vowed he wouldn’t "blow things up" if the season went sour.
Pettine’s argument is that the Browns have made strides despite the losing record. He cited the improvement of this year’s rookie class, which featured defensive lineman Danny Shelton, offensive lineman Cam Erving, linebacker Nate Orchard and running back Duke Johnson as a sign of growth.
But a defence that consistently gave up big plays and can’t stop the run could be Pettine’s downfall. He has discussed with Haslam the possibility of revamping the defence.
"We’re not going to make excuses," he said. "It is a source of frustration, disappointment and something that myself and the defensive staff show up here every day to work and get corrected. Some areas we’ve gotten better and others we haven’t."
Defensive co-ordinator Jim O’Neil offered his unwavering support for Pettine.
"If you ask me and my two cents, stability is the answer," O’Neil said. "It’s not cleaning the slate every couple years. Cleveland has been down that path. In my opinion, that’s not the right way to go. Whether I’m here or not, whether the offensive co-ordinator is here or not or the whatever coach is here or not, Mike Pettine is the right guy for this organization and Mike Pettine is the right guy for this city."