Former Great Danes, Samson Brown And Jim O’Neil, Hired By Buffalo Bills


Photo: Samson Brown was a a four-time All-Northeast Conference free safety at UAlbany and assistant coach from 2007-10.

ALBANY, N.Y. – In the coaching carousel currently taking place throughout the National Football League, former University at Albany standout player and assistant coach Samson Brown as well as 2001 UAlbany assistant Jim O’Neil have landed positions on the Buffalo Bills staff.

Brown and O’Neil come most recently from the New York Jets organization under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. With the hiring of new Bills head coach Doug Marrone (formerly the head coach of Syracuse University) Buffalo announced Pettine as their new defensive coordinator on Jan. 10th. Consequently, Brown received the nod as the Bills assistant defensive backs coach and O’Neil as the Bills’ linebackers coach.

“I’m excited to announce the newest members of the Buffalo Bills coaching staff,” said Coach Marrone Tuesday. “When I began the hiring process for our staff, I sought after individuals that had a strong work ethic, passion for the game of football and experience which are all qualities demonstrated in each of our new hires.”

Brown was a four-time All-Northeast Conference free safety at UAlbany. He totaled 52 tackles, 10 pass break-ups and two interceptions in leading the Great Danes to the 2002 conference championship.  Brown, who was named to the All-NEC first team on three occasions, finished his career ranked among the school's all-time tackles leaders with 240. He was also named to the Football Gazette mid-major All-America squad.

He earned a B.A. in information science and policy from UAlbany in 2003.

Prior to joining Coach Bob Ford’s staff in 2007, the Bronx, N.Y. native coached the tight ends and assisted with special teams at Hofstra University.  He also served as an intern coach for two years at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and one season at Siena College. At Rensselaer, Brown worked with the defensive backs, wide receivers, and special teams.  He also interned with the New York Giants' scouting department.

From 2007 to May of 2010, Brown gained experience coaching the outside linebackers, tight ends, and corners for his alma mater. He also interned with the Green Bay Packers in 2009, testing the waters of the NFL. He spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons with the NY Jets as a coaching assistant.

Meanwhile, O’Neil enters his fifth season in the NFL. He joined the Jets’ coaching staff in 2009 as a defensive quality control coach before being elevated to assistant defensive backs coach for three seasons from 2010-12. The Jets’ passing defense finished second in the NFL in 2012 (189.8), fifth in 2011 (201.0), sixth in 2010 (200.6) and first in 2009 (153.7). While with the Jets from 2009-12, New York’s defense held opposing passers to an NFL-low 71.0 quarterback rating, completion percentage (52.6%), passing yards (186.3 per game) and forced the highest percentage of three-and-out drives (29.4%).

Prior to entering the NFL coaching ranks with the Jets, O’Neil spent eight years with college programs. From 2006-08, he served as the recruiting coordinator and safeties coach at Eastern Michigan. His previous college stints include Towson in 2005 (defensive coordinator), Northwestern from 2003-04 (graduate assistant/defensive backs), Penn in 2002 (assistant offensive line) and UAlbany in 2001 (assistant offensive line/tight ends).

O’Neil earned a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Towson, a Master of Art’s degree in Liberal Studies from Northwestern University and his Master of Science degree in Education from UAlbany.

During both Brown and O’Neil’s tenures, the Jets experienced success, highlighted by an AFC Championship game appearance in 2010. The former Great Danes look to make an immediate impact on the Bills’ program that is in search of its first playoff presence since 1999. Buffalo finished the 2012 season with a 6-10 record.

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