COMMENTARY | Defense wins championships.
It's an adage that's repeated over and over again each NFL season. The Cleveland Browns, intentionally or not, have a defensive-minded head coach in Mike Pettine, the former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator who was publicly introduced by the Browns on Thursday.
All indications are that those within the Cleveland front office wanted a great offensive mind, most notably Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, to lead the roster moving forward. That didn't happen for a variety of reasons. If history is any indication, it may not matter.
Super Bowl winners of the past decade: John Harbaugh
Harbaugh is commonly known as a former special teams coordinator, but the current Baltimore Ravens head coach was twice a defensive backs coach; once while at the University of Indiana, and then with the Philadelphia Eagles. Harbaugh is respected as being one of the top coaches in all the NFL.
Super Bowl winners of the past decade: Tom Coughlin
Coughlin, who has twice led the New York Giants to championships, took a different route to the big show than did Harbaugh. He spent time as a quarterbacks coach and then as an offensive coordinator before becoming a head coach in the NFL.
Super Bowl winners of the past decade: Mike McCarthy
The Green Bay Packers head coach worked his way up the ladder via multiple staffs. He was a quarterbacks coach with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Packers before landing offensive coordinator gigs with the New Orleans Saints and then the San Francisco 49ers.
Super Bowl winners of the past decade: Sean Payton
Before being named as head coach of the New Orleans Saints, Payton served as quarterbacks coach for several college programs. He held that same position with the Philadelphia Eagles and then the New York Giants. The Giants ultimately promoted him to offensive coordinator, and he was an offensive play-caller for the Dallas Cowboys before landing where he currently resides.
Super Bowl winners of the past decade: Mike Tomlin
Tomlin is the first of the coaches mentioned in this piece to have experience tutoring on both sides of the football. He was a wide receivers coach in college before becoming a defensive backs coach in 1998. He never looked back from there, obtaining that same job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before becoming defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings.
Super Bowl winners of the past decade: Tony Dungy
Pittsburgh was the first team to give Dungy a coaching job in the NFL, first making him a defensive backs coach before promoting him to defensive coordinator. Dungy stayed on the defensive side of the ball while with the Chiefs and the Vikings before the Bucs made him their head coach. He ultimately found success while taking the Indianapolis Colts to a title, and Dungy, who has retired from coaching, remains one of the most respected minds in football.-
Super Bowl winners of the past decade: Bill Cowher
Some fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers conveniently forget that Cowher played and coached for the Browns. He was a special teams and secondary coach in Cleveland, and Kansas City gave Cowher what was to be his only defensive coordinator job.
Super Bowl winners of the past decade: Bill Belichick
He's not a favorite among all football fans, but there's no denying that Belichick will go down as one of the greatest head coaches in the history of the NFL. While he did start out as an assistant and then a wide receivers/tight ends coach with the Detroit Lions, Belichick made his name as a coordinator who was largely responsible for those famous defenses of the Giants that helped the team win their first two Super Bowl titles.
And what of the upcoming Super Bowl? Both John Fox and Pete Carroll were defensive guys before getting head coach jobs.
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010.
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