Adam Schefter broke the news Wednesday that the Cleveland Browns were interviewing Kevin O’Connell to be the team’s quarterbacks coach.
Because he’d never coached in the NFL, the news sent me to Google to find out more about him.
Here’s what I learned:
O’Connell came out of San Diego State with good size (6-foot-6) and the ability to run.
Prior to the draft he was tutored by a group that included former Browns quarterback Charlie Frye.
He was drafted by New England in the third round in 2008.
O’Connell threw six passes and completed four, for 23 yards.
The next season, O’Connell was cut after he was beat out for the backup spot by Brian Hoyer, an undrafted rookie.
O’Connell bounced around the league but was only on an active roster again with the Jets, where Mike Pettine worked as defensive coordinator. Apparently the two have remained close since.
After 2011, O’Connell became a private quarterback tutor.
Last offseason, he worked extensively with Johnny Manziel to prepare him for the NFL. O’Connell was invited to George Whitfield’s quarterback camp, where O’Connell spent a lot of time with Manziel.
At last year’s NFL draft combine, O’Connell told ESPN's Field Yates that if he were Houston he’d take Manziel with the first pick, though he admitted he was biased because he worked with Manziel.
After the draft, O’Connell gave this honest assessment in a podcast with CBSSports.com: “I think the decision personally is this guy can win us games by being a playmaker, and when the throw is there to be made he’s going to make that throw. And if he doesn't, either because he’s not protected or he doesn’t understand the protections, he’s gonna then ... his creativity and natural ability will take over and he’ll move on from there and make a play. With the NFL, what scares people is defenses are just too darn good. And the speed ... you saw it a little bit last year ... sideline to sideline closing on RGIII in his second year vs. the first year. I mean, you have to have a passing concept. You have to have the ability to read the entire field. Evaluate matchups. Understand the weakness of the defense.”
O’Connell added that Manziel needed to combine his playmaking ability with the preparation of a Russell Wilson and improve his understanding of NFL defenses if he wanted to succeed. O’Connell stressed Manziel’s success would depend on his work ethic but said Manziel would be “fantastic” if he dedicated himself.
During training camp, Pettine had O’Connell spend a few days with the team, both in the meeting rooms and on the field.
O’Connell was an analyst on CBS for Mountain West games last season.