Jul 28, 2013; Pittsford, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine points as he talks to the Bills defense during training camp at St. John Fisher College. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Browns to hire Jim O’Neil to be DC, Jeff Hafley to be DBs coach, Brian Fleury to help with LBs

The Cleveland Browns will hire Jim O’Neil to be their defensive coordinator.  This has been a move that was ready to happen when Mike Pettine was announced as the head coach of the team.  The Browns were simply waiting for permission from the Buffalo Bills to talk to him.

O’Neil, 35, served as the linebackers coach for Pettine in Buffalo, has worked for him for five years including this past year with the Bills and four with the New York Jets.  He worked with defensive backs in his time under Pettine with the Jets.  Pettine has known O’Neil since he played for his dad in high school.

Jeff Hafley will be the Browns secondary coach and Pettine had actually hired Hafley only 11 days before to work for him in Buffalo.  Hafley, 34, spent the previous three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, working as a safeties coach most recently.  He went with Greg Schiano from Rutgers to the NFL and before he got there, he was with Pittsburgh.

Brian Fleury is going to be an assistant linebackers coach after spending last year as a defensive quality control coach under Pettine.  Before that, he spent four years at Towson in FCS and four years at Sacred Heart.  He played quarterback for Towson after transferring from Maryland, where he would later operate as a graduate assistant.

The defensive staff is starting to take shape and not surprisingly, Pettine is gathering many of the coaches he handpicked with the Bills.  The staff is made up of a number of young coaches.  O’Neil knows Pettine from high school and O’Neil appears to be familiar with Fleury from Towson.

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  • Gary

    A Linebacker coach for defensive coordinator? What experience does he have being a defensive coordinator? He played for his dad in High School. Big deal. This has been the Browns problem since 99, not getting any coaches with experience.

    • Sam Gold

      This is the path many coordinators take.

      • Gary

        Well aware of that. But, it also seems to be the Browns way to keep hiring coaches will little experience. Where has that got them? The worst record in the NFL since 1999.
        The Browns need experience. O’neil has 9 years experience. And none has been a defensive coordinator. Maybe with a few more years he might be a candidate. I don’t see his hiring doing any good for the Browns.

        • Sam Gold

          Both coordinators last year had ample experience. Look what that got us.

          • Gary

            And who’s idea was it to let them go.?

          • Sam Gold

            4-12 wasn’t much of a reason to keep them around.

          • Gary

            You can’t blame the coaches for poor player performance, injured players and a poor talent pool of players. The coaches didn’t put this team together. One year is hardly enough time to make a team a winner. It’s time actual players were held accountable for poor play. Their were many players on this team who didn’t play to their ability. Once again, this is not the coaches fault. They can only instruct a player. They don’t play at all. Those people you mentioned who paid these coaches are a big part of the overall problem with this team. If you can’t see that, you are blind. You can’t keep firing coaches almost every year because the team doesn’t compete. You need to first build a team who is capable of competing. You need to draft the best players available and who will help the team get better. You need to go after the right free agents who can contribute now. None of this has been done for a long time. There are some promising players on this team. With the right draft choices and through free agency, this team could be what they once were. But, it all starts at the top. From the owners on down the line.

          • Sam Gold

            “You can’t blame the coaches for poor player performance…” Yet, per your original opening thread, an experienced coaching staff is necessary. Why if they aren’t to be held responsible for the performance of the team?

            “…injured players…” Every team has this EXACT same problem. You’re paid to win with what you have, not come up with excuses why you didn’t win.

            “…poor talent pool of players.” SIX Pro Bowlers.

            “The coaches didn’t put this team together.” Andy Reid didn’t put KC together. Chip Kelly didn’t put Philly together. Jim Harbaugh didn’t put SF together. All got to the playoffs in year 1. Nearly every NFL player can succeed with the right leadership.

            “…players on this team who didn’t play to their ability.” If ever there were a responsibility directly attributable to the coach it’s figuring out how to get the most/best from your players.

            “You can’t keep firing coaches almost every year because the team doesn’t compete.” Agreed, however this FO has been responsible for one hire. They admittedly made a mistake and cut bait as soon as they realized their mistake. They then undertook an extensive, prolonged search to find the next Sean Payton/John Harbaugh/Andy Reid(first time around)/Mike McCarthy — Coaches who possessed that “something” that’s so hard to find and leads to success where so few are willing to look. Previous HC experience is no guarantee of future success as has been demonstrated again and again in the NFL.

            “None of this has been done for a long time.” Again, this FO has been in place for one season. Whatever occurred prior to that is not their doing or responsibility. To hold them up as somehow tied to that history is truly an example of being blind.

            From the bye to the end of the season this team went into almost every fourth quarter with a lead but a combination of poor play calling coupled with horrendous execution resulted in seven straight losses. To be sure, the players are responsible for their play but the coaches are responsible for their preparation and game planning. Pat Shurmur, mother-effen PAT SHURMUR(!), got 5 wins twice. Chud, with a his all-star coordinator team, won 4. To come in with the exact same tools and a few upgrades from what Shurmur had and do worse is inexcusable and I for one am THRILLED that this owner recognized his rookie mistake and opted to reboot with a more methodical, measured approach to ensure success in 2014-NOW!!! He knows better than anyone that this shit cannot continue. I’m betting on his ego to get everybody in line and produce a winner sooner than later. You don’t break away from the pack by following the pack.

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