Browns coach Mike Pettine took time during his vacation in Hawaii to try to quash the controversy he started by recently suggesting in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bedard that the New England Patriots have been able to obtain copies of the New York Jets’ playbook.
In a phone interview Friday afternoon with ProFootballTalk.com, Pettine insisted he didn’t intend to accuse the Patriots of any wrongdoing.
“It’s a credit that [the Patriots] have been able to get that information,” said Pettine, who was the Jets’ defensive coordinator from 2009-12 under coach Rex Ryan. “I didn’t mean to imply it was gathered illegally. … To me, it’s a sign of a smart team. We’re not actively pursuing playbooks, but when they fall in your laps, you’ll study it.
“We’re all in the business of gathering information. If I can get someone’s blueprint for how they build their offense or defense, of course, I’m going to look at it.”
But the information in a playbook isn’t as value without a game plan.
“It’s only the skeleton,” Pettine said. “Not the meat on the bones.”
Pettine ruffled the feathers of Ryan and Patriots coach Bill Belichick by telling Bedard a story about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady running into Jets outside linebackers coach Mike Smith at receiver Wes Welker’s wedding and bragging about the Patriots possibly obtaining copies of the Jets’ playbook.
“It didn’t shock me because Rex [Ryan] would give them out like candy anyway,” Pettine told Bedard. “He gave one out to [Alabama coach Nick] Saban and I was like, ‘Don’t you know Saban and Bill [Belichick] are pretty good friends? I have a feeling it’s going to end up in New England.’ ”
Pettine added that he keeps versions of his playbook vanilla in case they end up in the hands of another team.
“I don’t put a lot of graduate-level information in it,” Pettine told Bedard. “We know in places like New England, it’s only a matter of time that they somehow mysteriously end up with our playbook.”
Ryan and Belichick fired back Thursday shortly after Bedard’s story published online.
Ryan told reporters that he gave Saban a playbook when he visited the Jets, but emphasized the idea that it could impact the outcome of games is “ridiculous.” An Alabama spokesman told reporters that Saban still has the playbook in his office and never gave it to Belichick.
“No. 1, I think it’s disrespectful to New England to sit back and say that they did this,” Ryan said via Newsday. “ ’Cause I can tell you every single game that we’ve ever had with New England has been decided on the field. Nobody’s had a competitive advantage.
“It sounds like everybody needs to talk to Pettine because apparently he’s got all the information. … I don’t understand what he’s trying to gain by it.”
Added Belichick: “Go talk to Mike Pettine. I don’t know.”
Johnny, be good
Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden believes rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel needs to find a way to keep his partying lifestyle under the radar.
In the past couple of weeks, Manziel has been photographed drinking out of a big bottle of alcohol atop an inflatable swan and recorded on video dropping an F-bomb while talking into a stack of cash as if it were a phone.
“I could care less a little bit. I just really think Johnny needs to maybe check his friends a little bit,” Haden said Friday during a radio interview with WKNR (850-AM). “Everybody’s going to go out, everybody’s going to have a good time, but you’ve got to make sure when you’re with your people it just doesn’t get out.
“You need to have a phone valet. Tell your friends, ‘Put your phones away. We’re going to go out and have a good time, but just don’t record. What are you doing?’
“Everybody has fun, trust me, everybody does. But everybody’s not Johnny Football. So I think you’re kind of like, ‘Come on, Johnny, you understand you’re going to have a good time for sure. Nobody has a problem with it, but just try to have fun without the whole world knowing.’ ”
Haden said he doesn’t think Manziel’s partying has affected his performance on the field. Haden added that he “definitely” would talk to Manziel if he believed Johnny Football’s off-field behavior began to hinder his play.
On the list
Haden is listed 39th on NFL Network’s The Top 100 Players of 2014. Players vote to form the list.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.