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Evolving the offense: Examining the Browns’ diverse offensive hires

The Cleveland Browns were incredibly busy during the coaching cycle. The Browns parted ways with most offensive staff, including NFL legends Bill Callahan, Stump Mitchell, and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. The Browns also parted ways with two positional coaches, tight ends coach T.C. McCartney and defensive line coach Ben Bloom. 

The coaching cycle has closed at the professional and collegiate levels. The Browns are no longer at risk of losing any of their new coaches to enticing offers elsewhere. It’s time to examine how Kevin Stefanski has replaced his longtime staff. Kevin Stefanski hired a host of coaches from diverse offensive backgrounds.

The Browns need new ideas and perspectives as they continue evolving the offense to form around quarterback Deshaun Watson. Stefanski could have retreated into his philosophy by hiring coaches associated with wide-zone offenses, in an attempt to reify his system. The organization stepped forward in the right direction by broadening its horizon and looking outside its system. 

Stefanski and General Manager Andrew Berry’s fates are no longer married to Watson’s fate. However, it’s still best for the organization if Watson performs well on the field. Stefanski’s staff hires are a rededication to their quarter of a billion-dollar quarterback.

The Browns brought in Ken Dorsey, the former Browns’ quarterback, as their new offensive coordinator. Dorsey has built his career working with dual-threat quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Josh Allen. He helped the two hone their craft. The two quarterbacks became better at passing the ball due to the superior attention to detail that Dorsey demands from his players. Dorsey also helped the two quarterbacks avoid hits, prioritizing their safety by reducing how frequently they ran. 

Watson could greatly benefit from Dorsey’s ideas and leadership. Avoidable hits ended Watson’s 2023 season. If Dorsey can keep the quarterback upright, then Watson will be poised for a great 2024 season. 

The Browns brought in Duce Staley to replace running backs coach Stump Mitchell. Duce has experience working on run-pass-option concepts. His familiarity should help the Browns expand their offense, as they have struggled to implement them.

New tight end coach Tommy Rees provides a wealth of knowledge on run-pass-option plays. The former University of Alabama offensive coordinator relied heavily on the concepts.  Rees controls a small room, with the Browns only rostering three tight ends. The position is unique in the offense as they must contribute in all three phases on offense. They have to block both in the run game and passing game, as well as, run routes and catch the football. As the tight end coach, Rees will help marry the run game with the passing game. 

The Browns hired Andy Dickerson and Roy Istvan as their offensive line coaches. Dickerson is the only coach who has an extensive history with the wide zone system the Browns have operated. Dickerson served as the assistant offensive line coach for the Los Angeles Rams under Sean McVay. In 2021, he followed Shane Waldron to Seattle, becoming the offensive line coach of the Seahawks. Dickerson’s understanding of theundefined wide zone offense should help Stefanski work through any challenges with his core philosophy.  

Assistant offensive line coach Istvan bounced around the collegiate and secondary school levels for over two decades before landing a job with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019. The coach has worked in a plethora of systems and should help adapt the offense for the 2024 season.

It’s unclear whether the Browns will hire a quarterbacks coach for the 2024 season. The Browns didn’t carry one last season after then-quarterback coach Drew Petzig by the Cardinals for their offensive coordinator position. Instead, they relied on offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and assistant Ashton Grant to lead the room. 

The Browns could keep Grant in the assistant role, with Dorsey overseeing him, or promote him to the position later in the offseason. With the coaching cycle near a close, it’s unlikely that the Browns go outside to fill the position. 

The Browns have done an admirable job of rebuilding their coaching staff this offseason. While it is impossible to replace legends of the trade like Bill Callahan, the Browns made a great effort to evolve their staff. The team looked outside their system and philosophies to find solutions to the problems modern defenses are presenting. The offense’s new look will prime them to become one of the elite units in the NFL.

Story originally appeared on Browns Wire