Here’s what the latest upheaval in Cleveland means for the Browns going forward:
Why did the Browns and Dorsey ‘mutually part ways’?
Browns co-owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam wanted Dorsey to take a subordinate role within the organization, clearing the way for somebody else to be general manager or head of the football operation. They couldn’t come to an agreement on a framework that worked for both sides. In other words, Dorsey wasn’t going to take a demotion.
What role did Paul DePodesta have to this point and how will it change now?
DePodesta, who actually lives in California, headed the Browns’ analytics department, which didn’t exactly operate in concert with the scouting department headed by Dorsey. This move is a signal that analytics will return to playing a bigger role in the front office, which in turn means a bigger role for DePodesta.
What does a reorganized front office look like?
That is to be determined, and figures to hinge on the head coach the Browns hire. Arranged marriages between coach and GM have plagued the franchise since the Haslams bought the team, so putting together a front office that will collaborate well with the head coach will be paramount as the Browns work through yet another regime change. The pressing question now is, will the Haslams let the new GM hire the coach? Or will they recruit a coach by letting him pick the GM?
How does this move impact the coaching search?
Anybody who might have had an issue coaching under Dorsey suddenly becomes a more likely candidate. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (a fan of Browns QB Baker Mayfield) fits into that category. McDaniels, a native of northeast Ohio, played college football at John Carroll University in Cleveland with Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio. They could be a package deal. Other candidates could also see the Cleveland job as more attractive now, given their potential say in how the front office might be shaped.
What were Dorsey’s best and worst moves?
The Browns GM job is better today than when Dorsey took over. The offensive skill talent he assembled is a big reason. Dorsey selected Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb in the 2018 draft, and he acquired wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. through trades. Despite their struggles together so far, they can be the foundation of a playoff-caliber offense. Dorsey, however, was far from perfect. He whiffed on 2018 second-rounder Austin Corbett, which ultimately left a huge hole on the inside of the offensive line. He also overestimated what he had at tackle, which left Mayfield under duress off the edge all season.
On top of that, Dorsey repeatedly took gambles on players with red flags. Running back Kareem Hunt, who was suspended by the NFL for the first eight games of the season for violating its personal conduct policy, has fit in so far. But others have not, like wide receiver Antonio Callaway, who while at Florida was suspended for the entire 2017 season for allegedly using stolen credit card information to fund bookstore accounts. Dorsey cut Callaway a year after drafting him when he violated the league’s substance abuse policy a second time. Dorsey proved he could procure talent, but he failed to show he could build a winning team, underscored by the problems along the offensive line and all of Cleveland’s off-field issues.
How confident should Browns fans be in the Haslams?
In a vacuum, it’s understandable why the Haslams made the moves they did this week. The Browns were an underachieving disaster this season, rife with weekly sideshows that embarrassed the franchise. But considering how many times the Haslams have given up on one plan for the next — six head coaches, including interims, and five general managers since they bought the team — before truly giving any plan a chance to actually work, it’s hard to envision they’ll commit long-term to anything they decide on next. If they don’t, they run the risk of ruining their most prized football asset: the promise of a franchise QB in Mayfield, who will be entering a pivotal third season.