A first second interview. A new old name. Another top target crossed off the list.
The meandering Browns’ coaching search, in its fourth week, continued Tuesday with plenty of updates.
Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase started the day by removing himself from consideration, a league source confirmed.
Gase, 35 and the play caller for the record-setting and Super Bowl-bound Denver offense, was the first interview requested by the Browns on Dec. 30, a day after Rob Chudzinski was fired. Gase declined all interviews until after Denver’s playoff run, but the Broncos kept winning. He called owner Jimmy Haslam on Tuesday to take himself out of the running.
The Broncos scored an NFL-record 606 points, and Peyton Manning set records with 55 touchdowns and 5,477 passing yards. Gase was considered a favorite of the Browns, but they may not have been willing to wait until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 to sit down with Gase for the first time.
The search kept chugging along without him.
Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was scheduled to interview for the second time Tuesday night in Mobile, Ala., site of the Senior Bowl, where Pettine’s scouting draft-eligible players. Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is expected to receive a second interview later in the week, and Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter was added to the list of candidates.
Pettine, 47, is the first to receive a second interview after making a good impression on Haslam and CEO Joe Banner. He was a late and unexpected addition to the mix with his first meeting Jan. 16. He’s been available since the end of the regular season because Buffalo missed the playoffs.
The Buffalo defense ranked 10th in yards allowed and 20th in points in 2013, his first year, and improved over the previous season in every statistical category.
Pettine spent the previous four years as coordinator with the Jets. He hasn’t been a head coach since 2001 with North Penn High School in Towamencin Township, Pa.
“Obviously he’s very well respected throughout the league,” Bills coach Doug Marrone told The Buffalo News. “I think in this league when you go out there and you’re putting together a scheme and you’re productive and successful at it, I think you’re going to get recognized.
“We’re happy for him. It’s deserving.”
If the Browns are convinced Pettine’s the guy after their second meeting, they can hire him immediately. They are expected, however, to interview Quinn this week for the second time.
He first met with them Jan. 1 during Seattle’s bye week and reportedly is interested in the job. A second interview must take place by Sunday night, and will reportedly be held in the New York area.
Quinn, 43, and the Seahawks will meet Gase and the Broncos in the New Jersey Super Bowl, and the Browns aren’t allowed to negotiate with Quinn until after the game. Seattle had the NFL’s top-ranked defense in the regular season and forced three turnovers by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the NFC championship game.
Quinn was an NFL assistant for 10 years before taking the coordinator job at the University of Florida for 2011-12. He’s in his first year back in Seattle, this time as coordinator.
Koetter was the newest late addition to the pile of candidates. Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez reported Koetter will interview.
Koetter, 54, was scheduled to interview with Cleveland and Philadelphia last offseason, but signed an extension with the Falcons.
He’s been coordinator for the Falcons for two years after five years in the same role with the Jaguars. Before that he was head coach at Arizona State for six years (40-34) and at Boise State (26-10) for three.
The Falcons struggled in 2013 with injuries, but in 2012 Koetter’s offense ranked second in third-down efficiency, third in red zone points and seventh in scoring and passing. Koetter’s known for his expertise in the passing game, but Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew led the league in rushing in 2010.
The Browns have been harshly criticized during the lengthy search and are the only team left with a vacancy. The abrupt firing of Chudzinski after one season — the Browns went 4-12 and lost the final seven games — is a hurdle for Haslam and Banner in convincing candidates it’s a good job.
“We are prepared to wait as long as necessary because this is a very important decision,” Haslam wrote last week in a letter to fans. “Everyone in our organization is committed to finding the right leader for our team.”
Gase was the third candidate to publicly withdraw his name from Cleveland’s search, following Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Gase, in his first year as a coordinator, is expected to be a hot candidate again after next season.
The Browns may continue to broaden the search, and contacted San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh about members of his staff. Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have been mentioned as possibilities.
Harbaugh would not confirm which coaches Cleveland asked about.
“To go into any further detail, I don’t think helps our situation, their situation,” he said. “Their search is their search.”
And it’s still going.
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