Thursday, January 23, 2014

At least one coach could follow Pettine to Cleveland


It didn't take long after announcing the hire of former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine before the Cleveland Browns took another shot at poaching one of Doug Marrone's staffers.

According to Adam Schefter, Cleveland put in a request with the team to interview linebackers coach Jim O'Neil, with the intention of having him fill the defensive coordinator role under Pettine.

Before working together in Buffalo, O'Neil and Pettine combined forces for the Jets, where O'Neil was the defensive quality control coach before being promoted to assistant defensive backs coach.

This could turn into an interesting situation for O'Neil and the Bills, who only have one other defensive coach with more pro coaching experience than O'Neil's five seasons. Depending on the deal Cleveland has in store, a counter offer may be put into play to have O'Neil fill the void left by Pettine, or at the very least keep him on staff in his current role to continue on with Pettine's schematic and provide some needed wisdom.

That one other seasoned coach is veteran Donnie Henderson, who has worked in the NFL for a decade and is currently the team's defensive backs coach.

Henderson has experience as a coordinator, having previously run squads for Detroit in 2006 and Gang Green in 2004-05. Similar to Pettine and O'Neil, he also has ties back to Rex Ryan, as he led the Baltimore Ravens' deadly defensive backs crew during their Super Bowl run at the turn of the century.

He could very well be offered Pettine's old job too given his success in the past, which would free up a larger role for newcomer Jeff Hafley, who has experience working with DBs.

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