Browns notebook: Hiring of coaching staff complete; owner Jimmy Haslam gives speech

By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer

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CANTON: Browns coach Rob Chud­zinski completed the hiring of his first staff, the team announced Thursday.

The Browns rounded out their staff of 21 coaches by hiring inside linebackers coach Ken Flajole, running backs coach John Settle, assistant strength and conditioning coaches Chris DiSanto and Derik Keyes and special assistant to the head coach Steve Gera.

Flajole spent last season as the secondary coach of the New Orleans Saints and was fired in January along with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Before joining the Saints, Flajole served as the defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams from 2009-11.

Flajole, 58, also coached linebackers for the Carolina Panthers (2003-08), defensive backs and linebackers for the Seattle Seahawks (1999-2002) and entered the NFL in 1998 as a defensive assistant with the Green Bay Packers. He also made several stops in the college ranks and has 36 years of coaching experience.

“Ken is a highly regarded coach with an extensive resume in the NFL,” Chudzinski said in a news release. “He has achieved success as a position coach and coordinator in the league. Like other members of our defensive staff, he has experience working in several different schemes, an attribute which will be valuable as we develop the Browns’ defense.”

In January, the Browns hired Brian Baker to coach the outside linebackers in new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 multifront system.

Settle spent the past two seasons with the Panthers, but he was fired in January. In Charlotte, N.C., Settle worked with Chudzinski, who served as the Panthers’ offensive coordinator during the past two seasons.

Settle’s only other NFL coaching experience was with the Browns in 1995 and then the Baltimore Ravens from 1996-97 after the team moved. Before joining the Panthers in 2011, Settle coached running backs at the University of Wisconsin (2006-10), Fresno State (1998-2005) and his alma mater, Appalachian State (1994).

Settle, 47, played running back for the Atlanta Falcons (1987-90) and the Washington Redskins (1991-92). Settle, who made the Pro Bowl in 1988, replaces Gary Brown, a former NFL running back who coached the Browns’ running backs for the past four seasons.

“I have been with John the last two years in Carolina, and know firsthand the type of coach that he is,” Chudzinski said. “His players have always been productive and respond well to his teaching methods.”

Gera spent the past six seasons (2007-12) as an offensive assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers. In San Diego, Gera helped Norv Turner, the Chargers’ former coach and new Browns offensive coordinator, with scouting and film study.

DiSanto spent last season working as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of California. He held the same role with the Oakland Raiders for four seasons (2008-11).

Keyes spent last season holding the title of assistant strength and condition coach with the Houston Texans.

He also had similar roles with the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and the University of South Alabama.

DiSanto and Keyes will assist strength and conditioning coach Brad Roll, who has 32 years of experience, including 19 in the NFL. Roll replaces Kent Johnston, who served as the Browns’ strength and conditioning coach for the past three seasons. Johnston was hired to fill the same role for the San Diego Chargers, and Rick Lyle will serve as his assistant after working with the Browns for four seasons.

Speech in Canton

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam vowed to improve the fan experience at FirstEnergy Stadium as he spoke to a crowd of about 850 people Thursday night during the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 99th annual dinner at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.

For one, Haslam lamented the lack of cellphone service at the stadium.

“Yeah, that just drives me crazy,” Haslam said. “We’re going to have good cellphone service this year.”

Haslam also explained the Browns’ choice to convert to Horton’s 3-4 scheme.

“On defense, our job is to affect the quarterback,” Haslam said. “I think Ray and Chud feel like the 3-4 affects the quarterback, and that’s the reason for doing it.”

Haslam said he hired Chudzinski because he’s an “innovative offensive person” who has shown “the ability to put together a great staff.”

Extra points

Michigan State cornerback Johnny Adams, a Buchtel High School graduate, and Kent State offensive lineman Brian Winters, a Hudson High School graduate, are among 333 prospects who have been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, which will run Feb. 20-26 in Indianapolis. The Browns have the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft, which will run April 25-27. … Bill Davis has been hired as the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator, reported. Davis spent the past two seasons coaching the Browns’ linebackers. … Steve Hagen was hired this week to coach tight ends for the New York Jets. Hagen coached the Browns’ tight ends for the past four seasons. … Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson’s base salary of $3.6 million for the 2013 season is fully guaranteed because he remained on the roster as of Thursday, Adam Caplan of reported.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at Read the Browns blog at Follow him on Twitter at and on Facebook

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