New Browns coach Mike Pettine has hired former Buffalo Bills linebackers coach Jim O’Neil as his defensive coordinator and retained special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor, the team announced.
Pettine also hired four other assistants and retained two others. The moves and backgrounds of the coaches are outlined below in a news release from the Browns.
Assembling his initial coaching staff as head coach of the Cleveland 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, first as defensive quality control/defensive backs coach in 2009 before three years (2010-12) as assistant defensive backs coach. While working with the Jets’ secondary, New York’s passing defense finished second in the NFL in 2012 (189.8), fifth in 2011 (201.0), sixth in 2010 (200.6) and first in 2009 (153.7). During his four years with New York, the Jets defense over those combined seasons ranked first in the NFL in opposing quarterback rating (71.0), completion percentage (52.6) and passing yards per game (186.3). The Jets defense yielded the second-fewest yards per game (294.8) and allowed just nine 100-yard receiving games from 2009-2012, fewest in the league.
O’Neil helped CB Darrelle Revis to three (2009-11) Pro Bowls and three (2009-11) first-team Associated Press All-Pro selections. Revis led the AFC and finished third in the NFL with 21 passes defensed in 2011. O’Neil also worked with CB Antonio Cromartie and SS LaRon Landry, who were selected to the Pro Bowl following the 2012 season.
Prior to entering the NFL coaching ranks, O’Neil spent eight years on the college level. From 2006-08, he served as the recruiting coordinator and safeties coach at Eastern Michigan. He also had stints at Towson in 2005 (defensive coordinator), Northwestern from 2003-04 (graduate assistant/defensive backs), Pennsylvania in 2002 (assistant offensive line) and SUNY-Albany in 2001 (assistant offensive line/tight ends).
O’Neil was a three-year starter as a defensive lineman at Towson and served as a team captain in 2000. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management from Towson. He also earned a master of arts degree in liberal studies from Northwestern and a master of science degree in education from SUNY-Albany.
A two-way lineman at Central Bucks West High School in Doylestown, Pa., O’Neil helped the school to a 31-4 record. The team also captured three consecutive Suburban One League National Conference championships.
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.
Tabor has helped shape some of the NFL’s top return specialists, such as Danieal Manning, Johnny Knox and Devin Hester in Chicago; and Cribbs and Travis Benjamin in Cleveland.
Prior to Chicago, Tabor spent two seasons at Western Michigan University (2006-07) as the running backs and special teams coach. He spent also four seasons at Utah State University, where he was the running backs and special teams coach in 2005 after serving as the Aggies’ assistant head coach in charge of wide receivers from 2002-04.
Tabor coached at Central Methodist College (1995-96) in Fayette, Mo., before spending four seasons at the Missouri. He spent his first three years with the Tigers as an offensive graduate assistant (1997-99) before moving into the role of running backs and special teams coach in 2000. He was also the head coach at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., in 2001.
From 1993-94, Tabor gained experience at the community-college and high-school levels, coaching at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College (1994) and Benton High School (1993) in St. Joseph, Mo.
Tabor graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., where he played four seasons at quarterback. He earned a master’s degree in education from Columbia (Mo.) College.
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.
Angelichio started his career in 1995 as the secondary coach at SUNY-Brockport, and then spent 10 seasons at Ithaca College, where he coached linebackers (1996-97), receivers (1998) and the offensive line (1999-00) before serving as offensive coordinator/offensive line coach (2000-05). While with the Bombers, Angelichio tutored seven All-Americans, helping the team advance to the postseason in seven of his 10 years. While in charge of the offense, he led a unit that set or tied 30 team or individual records over his final five seasons.
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.
Originally from Tulsa, Okla., Babich began his coaching career in 2006 as a graduate assistant at Kent State. A four-year letterman as a cornerback at North Dakota State, Babich was a two-time academic all-conference honoree and led the team as a senior with three interceptions. His father, Bob, has coached in the NFL since 2003 and is currently the defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
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.
Prior to Buffalo, Driesbach spent five years (2007-11) as the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator at Rice. Before Rice, Driesbach spent two years (2005-06) as the cornerbacks coach at Michigan State. He also served as the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss (2002-04), TCU (2001), Western Michigan (1997-2000), Pittsburgh (1993-96) and Cornell (1990-92).
Driesbach has helped developed numerous future NFL players, including Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis, who was the 2007 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Driesbach’s resume includes a two-year stop at East Carolina (1987-88), where he worked with the running backs in addition to performing the duties of admissions and academic coordinator. He spent three seasons at Wake Forest (1984-86), where he coached on both sides of the ball. He worked with the defensive line for two years before overseeing the receivers and tight ends in 1986.
He began his coaching career at Kansas State, where he spent eight seasons (1976-83), including three years as a graduate assistant and five more as a full-time assistant. As a graduate assistant, Driesbach worked primarily with the tight ends and receivers, including future NFL All-Pro Paul Coffman. From 1979-83, Driesbach coached the Wildcats’ defensive secondary.
A three-year starting wide receiver at Villanova, he earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts in 1975. Driesbach graduated from Central Bucks West High School in Doylestown, Pa.
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.
A first-team all-state quarterback as a senior at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, Md., Fleury led his team to the state championship in 1997, then signed with Maryland. After transferring to Towson, he finished his playing career as a four-year signal-caller before graduating with a degree in sport management.
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.
Prior to entering the NFL, Hafley spent 11 years on the collegiate sideline with coaching stints at Worcester Polytechnic (2001), Albany (2002-05), Pitt (2006-10) and Rutgers (2011).
A four-year letterman (1997-2000) as a wide receiver at Siena College, he graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in history.
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.
Prior to joining the Browns, Mennenga spent the 2009-10 seasons as the linebackers coach at South Dakota State. Before joining South Dakota State’s staff, Mennenga spent four seasons (2005-08) as the defensive coordinator at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan. He spent the previous four years at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., where he served one season as the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator (2001) and the final three as the team’s head coach (2002-04).
During his collegiate coaching career, he has also held assistant positions at Hutchinson Community College (defensive coordinator – 1998-2000), Western Kentucky (outside linebackers – 1997) and Southwest Baptist (1995-96 – secondary; 1994 – graduate assistant).
Mennenga lettered one season as a defensive back at the University of Missouri in 1992.