NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the team got permission to interview Buffalo Bills linebackers coach Jim O'Neil for the role. A source informed of Buffalo's thinking categorized the meeting as a formality, conceding that Cleveland, indeed, planned to hire O'Neil.
By the end of the day, the team confirmed just that -- saying O'Neil had been hired. New coach Mike Pettine also will retain special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, the team announced.
Pettine was instrumental in bringing O'Neil to the Bills this season after the two worked together for years with the New York Jets. Buffalo had until Monday to decide whether or not O'Neil would be allowed to leave his current role under new Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
The coaching trade is a tight-knit fraternity, so it comes as little surprise Pettine is looking for men he can trust. O'Neil will help guide the defensive game plan during the week but leave the play-calling on Sundays to Pettine. That's the same paradigm Rex Ryan used with Pettine when the two worked together in New York.
No matter how it plays out, we're going to see an attacking defense along the shores of Lake Erie.