The Browns on Friday hired Raymond "Bubba" Ventrone, who has coached one of the league's top special teams units with the Colts, as their assistant head coach/special teams coordinator.
Ventrone comes to Cleveland after spending the last five seasons in Indianapolis, where he helped the Colts build a top 10 special teams unit in each of the last three seasons. NFL analyst Rick Gosselin ranked Indianapolis eighth in the NFL in special teams last season, second in 2021 and fourth in 2020. Ventrone joined the Colts in 2018 after spending his first three seasons as a coach with the Patriots, where he was an assistant special teams coach and helped them win Super Bowl LI in 2017.
"We are thrilled to add Bubba to our coaching staff," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "He brings a proven track record as both a player and coach in this league. As a player, he built a reputation as a top special teamer during his 10-year career. He used that experience to make a successful transition to the sidelines, where his units have routinely performed at a high level. He has an infectious passion for the game and we are excited to have him leading our special teams unit."
Ventrone, a Pittsburgh native, initially entered the NFL as a safety in 2005 when he signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent following his college career at Villanova. Despite his undrafted status, he was able to carve a ten-year career in the NFL because of his talents on special teams, where he was an excellent performer on kickoff plays.
Ventrone played for three teams, including the Browns from 2009-2012, his longest tenure with any team, and appeared in 97 career games with 13 defensive tackles, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and 57 special teams stops. All 13 defensive tackles were with the Browns, as well as 31 total special teams tackles. He played a key role on both kickoff return and kickoff coverage, helping the Browns to an NFL-best average starting position of 31.4 and to a league-best defensive kickoff return average of 18.9 in 2009. He also registered a 35-yard run on a fake punt, which tied for the longest run of the season for the Browns in 2012.
As a coach with the Colts, Ventrone helped multiple special teams players land on the Associated Press All-Pro team, including Ashton Dulin (special teams player, second team in 2021), Luke Rhodes (long snapper, first team in 2021 and second team in 2020) and George Odum (special teams player, first team in 2020). Rhodes was also named to the Pro Bowl in 2021.
With the Browns, Ventrone will now look to elevate a special teams core that features second-year K Cade York, five-year veteran P Corey Bojorquez and eight-year veteran LS Charley Hughlett.