There is currently one head coaching opening in the NFL, and Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is now a candidate to fill it: he'll interview for the Cleveland Browns job on Thursday, according to Jay Glazer. The Bills have since confirmed that they have given the Browns permission to interview Pettine.
Pettine just completed his first season as the Bills' defensive coordinator, hand-picked by head coach Doug Marrone nearly immediately after his hiring last January. Having spent his previous 11 seasons working closely alongside Rex Ryan, Pettine brought that attack-first, disguise-oriented defense to Buffalo.
The results were impressive: the Bills did not make big statistical gains against the run, where they still struggled, but they finished ranked in the Top 10 in the league's defensive rankings for the first time since 2004, finished second in the league in both sacks (57) and interceptions (23), and sent three players to the Pro Bowl.
Cleveland is looking to replace Rob Chudzinski, who was fired after a 4-12 season despite having only been hired for the job the previous year. When the Browns do hire their next head coach, he'll be the fourth man to hold the title in the last five years.
In the same vein, if the Bills were to lose Pettine, they would be facing a 2014 season with a fourth different defensive play-caller in as many seasons. Pettine replaced Dave Wannstedt, who heading into 2012 replaced George Edwards, who held the job for two years under former head coach Chan Gailey. Considering the progress the Bills made under Pettine in his first year on the job, losing him would feel like a major blow.