Browns hire O’Connell as quarterbacks coach

Published 12:21 am Wednesday, February 18, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) — Kevin O’Connell got Johnny Manziel ready for last year’s NFL draft. The Browns will count on him to help make Manziel — or some other quarterback — a quality starter.

Cleveland hired O’Connell as its quarterbacks coach on Tuesday, officially announcing an important addition to coach Mike Pettine’s staff.

O’Connell, who played briefly in the league after being drafted out of San Diego State, not only worked with Manziel last year but recently helped Oregon star Marcus Mariota and Baylor’s Bryce Petty, two quarterbacks the Browns could select this year.

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The 29-year-old O’Connell previously worked with Pettine and new Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in New York when he played for the Jets. He replaces Dowell Loggains, who was not retained following last season.

“Kevin has already shown a knack for individual teaching at a high level,” Pettine said.

“Our experience being around him makes us confident he will easily transition into being an extremely valuable member of our staff. He was outstanding in the interview and instantly fit in with our group of offensive coaches that sat in.”

O’Connell was drafted in the third round by New England in 2008, appearing only briefly in two games. O’Connell later began a career as a private quarterbacks coach.

He helped Manziel sharpen his skills, enticing the Browns to draft the former Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M in the first round. The celebrated rookie spent most of the season as Brian Hoyer’s backup before making two forgettable starts.

Manziel’s problems worsened in the offseason when he entered rehab for an unspecified condition. The Browns have vowed their support for Manziel, hoping he can straighten out his life and then fulfill his on-field potential.

Over the past month, O’Connell has been working out Petty and Mariota, the reigning Heisman winner regarded along with Florida State’s Jameis Winston as the top two QBs in this year’s class.

“I feel like we were able to accomplish a lot and he’s going to be in a really good situation moving forward wherever that may be,” O’Connell said of Mariota. “I really was thankful to the organization for allowing me to do that. I made a commitment to Marcus and it wouldn’t have felt right not following through with him knowing that he trusted me for this important time preparing to start his NFL career.”

The Browns also hired senior offensive assistant Kurt Roper, assistant wide receivers coach Frank Edgerly and offensive quality control coach Michael McCarthy.