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New Browns offensive coordinator has been hired for a 'very weird job'

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey stands on the field with his arms crossed.
Andrew Harnik
In this file photo, former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey stands on the field before the start of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Landover, Maryland.

The Browns surprisingly fired three offensive coaches, including coordinator Alex Van Pelt, after a playoff season where the staff found production from four different quarterbacks.

Ideastream Public Media’s sports commentator Terry Pluto said Van Pelt’s four-year tenure in Cleveland is considered lengthy for a coordinator. For example, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has gone through five offensive coordinators in his 17 seasons. Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh has cycled through seven in his 16 years. Two of those went on to become head coaches, while the others were fired.

“So basically, you look about every three years, as an offensive coordinator, you’re probably going to move up or move out,” Pluto said.

Still, Pluto said, coordinators often get new jobs right away. Van Pelt, for example, has been hired as offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.

Pluto said firing coordinators is usually a way for head coaches to keep their jobs.

“Remember last year, when the Browns were 7 and10 and their defense was bad, rather than fire Kevin Stefanski, the head coach, they fired the special teams coach, and they fired the defensive coordinator and brought in two new guys,” Pluto said.

After firing Van Pelt, the Browns hired Ken Dorsey as offensive coordinator. He'd been fired in Buffalo 10 games into last season. Pluto said that since Stefanski likes to call his own plays during games, Dorsey has been brought in to get quarterback Deshaun Watson playing at his highest level.

“Deshaun Watson, this last year I would give him a C+, B- as a grade. You don't make the guy the highest paid quarterback in the NFL for that kind of grade. And on top of it, you give him a contract where you can't get rid of him. He has three more years guaranteed, no trade clause,” Pluto said.

Dorsey is a former NFL quarterback who was a backup for the Browns in 2006 and remained with the team through 2009. As a coordinator in the NFL, he has helped to develop quarterbacks Cam Newton in Carolina and Josh Allen in Buffalo.

“Where Dorsey really drew a lot of praise is with both Allen and Newton, he helped their accuracy in passing, along with ... helping to design offenses to highlight these guys being athletic,” Pluto said.

Pluto believes Dorsey has his work cut out for him with Watson.

“The last full season played by Deshaun Watson was 2020. So, it's a long time between the Deshaun Watson Pro Bowl quarterback of 2020 and who he is now. But that's job one for Dorsey is to work with Deshaun, get him playing that well, and also to come up with some offensive ideas that Kevin Stefanski can integrate in to make Deshaun Watson look better,” Pluto said.

As for how successful Dorsey will be, Pluto said he’s not sure.

“And it has nothing to do with the merits of Ken Dorsey. You are somewhat a victim of your location. I do not know how good Ken Dorsey is. I honestly don't, but I also know he's got a very tough challenge with Deshaun Watson and he's in a very weird job,” Pluto said.

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