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Pettine Adds A Number Of Coaches, O’Neil To Coach Defense

Jim O’Neil

Assembling his initial coaching staff as head coach of the Browns, Mike Pettine on Monday hired his first eight assistant coaches.

Pettine on Monday hired two of his three coordinators, Jim O’Neil (defense) and Chris Tabor (special teams). Additionally, Pettine named Brian Angelichio tight ends coach, Bobby Babich assistant secondary coach, Chuck Driesbach linebackers coach, Brian Fleury assistant linebackers coach, Jeff Hafley secondary coach and Shawn Mennenga assistant special teams coach.

Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil

O’Neil has 13 years of coaching experience and spent the 2013 season as the linebackers coach for the Buffalo Bills. With Buffalo, O’Neil worked with the outside linebackers, who helped the Bills set a franchise record with 57 sacks, second-most in the NFL in 2013. The Bills defense finished 10th (333.4) in the NFL in total defense, after finishing 22nd (362.9) in 2012. Buffalo also led the NFL in opponent completion percentage (55.3), and finished second in interceptions (23), third in opponent quarterback rating (74.9), fourth in passing defense (204.4), sixth in yards per play (4.90) and tied for sixth in takeaways (30).

Prior to Buffalo, O’Neil spent four seasons with the New York Jets.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor

Chris Tabor, retained by Pettine, was initially named the Browns’ special teams coordinator in 2011. Tabor in 2012 helped kicker Phil Dawson and kick returner Josh Cribbs to the Pro Bowl, marking just the second time in team history that two specialists made the annual all-star game in the same year (2008, Cribbs and LS Ryan Pontbriand). The Pro Bowl selection was the first of Dawson’s 14-year career.

Prior to joining the Browns, Tabor spent three seasons (2008-10) as assistant special teams coach with Chicago. During Tabor’s tenure with the Bears, Chicago consistently ranked among the league leaders in numerous departments.

Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio

Angelichio, entering his 20th year in coaching, joins the Browns from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he spent the past two seasons coaching tight ends. Previously, he coached tight ends at Rutgers (2011) and the University of Pittsburgh (2006-10), where he coached a pair of all-conference players, 2010 NFL Draft choices Nate Byham and Dorin Dickerson.

Assistant defensive backs coach Bobby Babich

Babich, interviewed and retained by Pettine, first joined the Browns as assistant defensive backs coach in 2013. He spent the previous two seasons with the Carolina Panthers as a defensive assistant (2012) and administrative assistant for the coaching staff (2011), assisting with day-to-day operations and working with the nickel backs.

Prior to joining the Panthers, Babich served as secondary coach at Eastern Illinois from 2007-10.

Linebackers coach Chuck Driesbach

Driesbach spent last season as linebackers coach with the Buffalo Bills following 36 years coaching on the college level. With Buffalo, Driesbach worked with the inside linebackers, teaming with Pettine and O’Neil to complete one of the best seasons by an NFL defense in 2013. Driesbach oversaw the development of second-round pick Kiki Alonso, a linebacker who was named the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year, and was the only defensive finalist for the 2013 Pepsi Next NFL Rookie of the Year award, which will be announced Saturday. Alonso tied for the team lead with four interceptions, including a streak with one in three consecutive games. That marked the first three-game interception streak by an NFL rookie linebacker since 1980, and the first by a Bills rookie linebacker in team history. He registered a season-high 22 tackles in an overtime game against Cincinnati (Oct. 13), the most by a Bills linebacker since 1997. On the season, Alonso also had two sacks, a forced fumble and a pair of fumble recoveries.

Assistant linebackers coach Brian Fleury

Fleury was defensive quality control coach on the Bills staff in 2013, his first season in the NFL. He spent the previous four years (2009-12) as secondary coach and special teams coordinator at Towson University, where he played a significant role in the Tigers’ drive to back-to-back Colonial Athletic Association championships (2011-12). Under his guidance, the Tigers defense led the conference in total defense and passing defense. An assistant at Sacred Heart University for four seasons (2005-08), he spent one year (2005) as secondary coach and the final three (2006-08) as defensive coordinator. Fleury began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Maryland in 2003, where he spent two seasons helping to coach the secondary.

Secondary coach Jeff Hafley

Hafley begins his third season in the NFL, after spending the previous two years with Tampa Bay, including 2013 as safeties coach. He joined the Bucs in 2012 as assistant defensive backs coach.

Assistant special teams coach Shawn Mennenga

Mennenga enters his fourth season as the Browns’ assistant special teams coach, having first joined the team in 2011.

Mennenga lettered one season as a defensive back at the University of Missouri in 1992.

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2 Responses to “Pettine Adds A Number Of Coaches, O’Neil To Coach Defense”

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