Mike Pettine spoke to reporters as the Cleveland Browns head coach at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis today, and he showed a little bit of that prizefighter's mentality that was often on display during his four years as our defensive coordinator under head coach Rex Ryan.
For instance, there was that little rumor about the Browns, before hiring Pettine, inquiring with the 49ers about a blockbuster trade for coach Jim Harbaugh.
"I got a phonecall saying that report was going to come out and I shot the messenger a little," Pettine said. "I asked how does that affect my tenure as the head coach?
"I think that's noise. It has no bearing on my job moving forward. That's a critical thing. A big thing about being a head coach is dealing with the noise, dealing with the distractions. Just add that one to the list."
He was asked about there being more noise in Cleveland than perhaps Buffalo, where he was last season, or the Jets or anywhere else in the NFL.
"That potentially is an accurate statement," he said. "I'd like to think that it's going to get quieter. That's my goal, to quiet the noise. The sooner I can get off this podium and go in there and find some players to help the Browns, the better."
The word "Jets" wasn't mentioned once from what we could tell during his 20-minutes-plus news conference at Lucas Oil Stadium. But Ryan's name did come up when Pettine explained why being coach of the Browns something for him to regret but rather something to rejoice.
"I'm the proverbial guy from the mailroom," he said. "I don't have the pedigree that some other coaches have that were former players or the big college-name coaches. I feel I've worked my way up and had a lot to overcome. I think that's helped motivate me, that's been a chip on my shoulder, whether it's real or perceived, that that guy's just a high school coach or that guy just gets Rex's coffee. That's what's motivated me and I think a big part of why I'm here today."
Pettine thanked Ryan back in January when he accepted the Browns post, and Ryan did the same when he took the Lucas Oil podium Thursday.
"Mike's a football junkie, obviously his dad was a tremendous coach in his own right and he comes from a coaching family," Rex said. "He's a smart guy, and I think he wants to be great, I don't think there's any doubt about it. I feel fortunate that I had Mike with me for the years I did. Hopefully he learned a few things what to do, maybe what not to do, from me. I'm sure he's going to be very successful."
As on Friday, the Jets did not confirm or deny having interviews with any of the players working out at this combine, but several were asked about if they have talked with or will talk with Ryan, GM John Idzik and our contingent in Indianapolis. Here's what those players said:
■ Texas A&M WR Mike Evans (6'5", 231), who said of all the great receivers in this draft, "I feel I'm the best one," said he'd met with eight teams already but as for the Jets, "Not yet."
■ USC WR Marqise Lee (6'0", 192), also mentioned of his interview with the Jets, "Not yet, I'm going to meet them today."
■ Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks (5'10", 185) said he had one team meeting Friday and "a lot more today." Including the Jets? "Yes sir," he said.
■ Colorado WR Paul Richardson said he talked with us and the Giants informally Friday "and I think I have formal meetings with them scheduled both today and tomorrow."
■ Quarterbacks? LSU's Zach Mettenberger (6'5", 235) said this morning he had an interview with us "later today." Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois said he was not lined up to talk with the Jets.