The Browns want to hire Buffalo Bills linebackers coach Jim O’Neil as their defensive coordinator, but if Cleveland is blocked from doing so, it’ll target Baltimore Ravens inside linebackers coach Don Martindale, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported tonight.
New Browns coach Mike Pettine served as the Bills’ defensive coordinator during the 2013 season, when O’Neil coached the Bills’ linebackers. Pettine was the New York Jets’ defensive coordinator from 2009-12, when O’Neil coached the Jets’ defensive backs.
O’Neil also played football at Central Bucks High School West in Doylestown, Pa., in the mid-1990s. Pettine’s father, Mike Pettine Sr., was O’Neil’s coach. The younger Pettine was an all-state quarterback and defensive back and C.B. West before graduating in 1984. He served as an assistant coach for his father from 1988-92.
O’Neil will follow Pettine and join the Browns if the Bills let him out of his contract, the New York Daily News reported Thursday shortly after Pettine was hired. NFL teams are not required to let position coaches under contract leave for promotions, unless it’s a head-coaching job. The Bills have until Monday to make a decision about O’Neil, Rapoport reported.
Pettine has never worked with Martindale, a Dayton native. But Pettine was the outside linebackers coach for the Ravens in 2008 under coach John Harbaugh. If Harbaugh vouches for Martindale, Pettine will value that recommendation.
Martindale has 27 years of coaching experience on his resume, including nine NFL seasons. He was the Denver Broncos’ defensive coordinator in 2010, when they ranked last in the NFL in defense (390.8 yards allowed per game). He has been the Ravens’ inside linebackers coach since 2012.
No matter who becomes the Browns’ next defensive coordinator, Pettine said he plans to call the defense’s plays this year.