Is this Coaching Staff Improved?
With the dismissal of Mike Pettine and the hiring of Hue Jackson, the obvious process of hiring new assistants is underway for the Cleveland Browns. It has been discussed and debated by many, but is this new staff a better one than the guys they replaced? (Note: the only constant from last season appears to be Special Teams’ coach Chris Tabor).
Offense – 2016: Pep Hamilton (Associate Head Coach), Al Saunders, (Senior Assistant/Wide Receivers), Kirby Wilson (Running Game Coordinator), Hal Hunter (Offensive Line), Greg Seamon (Tight Ends)
Notes: There’s no debating that this unit comes with a great deal of coaching experience in the NFL. Hamilton has worked with Andrew Luck, and has had a good deal of success during this period. Saunders has been in the league for over thirty seasons and has seen the playoffs nearly half the time (something the Browns’ organization would love to happen to them). Kirby Wilson has coached with four other organizations in the league and has been a part of two Super Bowl champions. Hunter has been in coaching since the 1970s, however he has been in the NFL for “only” ten seasons. Greg Seamon will come over from Cincinnati, where he was a scout for over a decade with the club.
Offense – 2015: John DeFilippo (Offensive Coordinator), Kevin O’Connell (Quarterbacks), Joker Phillips (Wide Receivers), Wilbert Montgomery (Running Backs), George DeLeone (Offensive Line)
Notes: DeFilippo was the former quarterbacks’ coach with the Raiders, who was breaking in as a first-time offensive coordinator. O’Connell was previously a backup signal caller who had prior experience working with the Browns’ first round draft pick at quarterback in 2014. The most experienced position coach was Montgomery, who had been with multiple clubs – including St. Louis where he was a part of their Super Bowl run. DeLeone had to fill as the leader of the offensive line following the dismissal of Andy Moeller just prior to the regular season.
Analysis: Outside of a couple areas, I believe that the Browns improved significantly in their offensive coaching staff from a year ago. I really liked DeFilippo and Montgomery in their roles, however during interviews the duo did not appear to know what the other was trying to accomplish. The offensive line underwhelmed greatly last season, I understand there were unique circumstances but the perceived strength of the team was actually one of the team’s weaker units. All that said, I will take my chances with the 2016 crew.
Defense – 2016: Ray Horton (Defensive Coordinator), Robert Nunn (Defensive Line), Louis Cioffi (Defensive Backs)
Notes: While this staff is not entirely assembled just yet, the main cog in the wheel is the guy up top. As many have noted, Horton comes back to Cleveland after spending two seasons in Nashville – he will assume the same role as he did in 2013. While he was able to get solid play from defensive backs, fourth quarter leads and total yard allowed were two of his Achilles’ heels.
Defense – 2015: Jim O’Neil (Defensive Coordinator), Anthony Weaver (Defensive Line), Chuck Driesbach (Linebackers), Jeff Hafley (Defensive Backs)
Notes: One of Mike Pettine’s protégés from his two previous stops (New York Jets, Buffalo Bills) was Jim O’Neil. While in Cleveland, the defensive coordinator was flat out offensive. The team ranked last or somewhere close to that in rushing yards allowed, overall defense, and points allowed. Additionally, players complained as they felt out of place and were given tasks that did not maximize their potential.
Analysis: As the same goes for the offense, I prefer the 2016 defensive coaches to the men who preceded them. Although Horton is not perfect, the players respect him and played better than they did the two seasons after his departure. If the team can acquire exceptional athletes this offseason, hopefully Horton can take what he did in 2013 and improve upon that significantly.