It took more than a week from start to finish, but the Cleveland Browns' courting of Bills defensive coordinator finally reached a conclusion, as they named Mike Pettine their new head coach after offering him the job on Thursday.
For Pettine it's been a rapid rise through the coaching ranks as he has gone from a high school head coach to NFL head coach in just 13 years. He also is the first Bills assistant coach to be hired away by another NFL club for a head coaching position since Ted Marchibroda was hired away from Marv Levy's staff to become head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 1992.
He spent just one year in Buffalo, but turned around a defense that was ranked 22nd in the league in 2012 to a top 10 ranking just one year later (10th). Pettine also oversaw a pass rushing unit that improved from 18th in the league to second in the NFL sacks from 2012 to 2013, with a franchise record 57 this past season. Buffalo's defense also improved from 20th in interceptions to second in the league in 2013.
Bills head coach Doug Marrone wished his former assistant well.
"I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Mike on becoming the Browns new head coach and thank him for all of his time and efforts with our team this past season. He did an excellent job of improving our defense and we wish him the best.
We have a plan in place and we will introduce our new Defensive Coordinator after our final decision has been made."
Buffalo's defensive players were disappointed to see Pettine leave the staff, but understand the opportunity he has in front of him.
"I really hate to see him leave," Marcell Dareus told Buffalobills.com. "At the same time it's a business and football is football and we've got to just go out there and play."
Buffalo will begin the process of filling their now vacant defensive coordinator post. The Bills are expected to look outside the organization as well as internally for a replacement.
The organization may need to also prepare to fill other possible assistant roles on the defensive side of the ball if Pettine tries to bring some of Buffalo's assistants with him to Cleveland.