CLEVELAND — Browns coach Mike Pettine has hired Jim O’Neil as his defensive coordinator, reuniting him with the coach who helped him turn around Buffalo’s defense last season.
Pettine also retained special teams coordinator Chris Tabor from Rob Chudzinski’s staff.
In addition, Pettine plucked assistants Chuck Driesbach (linebackers), Brian Feury (assistant linebackers coach) and Jeff Hafley (secondary) off the staff he worked on in Buffalo as defensive coordinator.
Pettine made Brian Angelichio, who spent the past two seasons in Tampa Bay, his tight ends coach and kept Bobby Babich (assistant secondary coach) and Shawn Mennenga (assistant special teams coach) from Cleveland’s previous staff.
O’Neil was Buffalo’s linebackers coach last season, his fifth straight with Pettine. The pair were together in New York, spending four seasons on Rex Ryan’s staff with the Jets.
Pettine’s connection with O’Neil predates their time in the NFL. O’Neil played for Pettine’s father, Mike Sr., in high school.
With the help of Pettine and O’Neil, the Bills set a franchise record with 57 sacks, second most in the NFL. Buffalo finished 10th (333.4) in total defense, after finishing 22nd in 2012.
Since being hired by Cleveland last week, the 47-year-old Pettine has been busy assembling his staff. He knew he was behind the rest of the league after it took the Browns nearly a month before hiring him as their seventh coach since 1999.
Pettine still needs an offensive coordinator, and one of the reported top names on his list, former Houston coach Gary Kubiak, was hired by Baltimore on Monday.
Tabor has been with the Browns since 2011 after three years in Chicago.