BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Ken Dorsey's background playing quarterback and coaching QBs made him a natural pick for the Browns, who hope he can work his magic with Deshaun Watson.
Fired during the season in Buffalo, Dorsey was introduced Monday as Cleveland's new offensive coordinator by coach Kevin Stefanski, who made several changes to his staff following an 11-6 regular season and wild-card playoff loss.
Stefanski's most notable move was firing coordinator Alex Van Pelt and bringing in Dorsey, who had success working with Cam Newton in Carolina and the Bills' Josh Allen — dual-threat QBs with skill sets similar to Watson.
Dorsey has already connected by phone with Watson, and he's looking forward to getting to know him better as a person and player.
“He clearly has a great feel for a lot of different aspects of football, whether it’s scheme-wise for us, instincts of what he sees on the field in terms of the defense and adjusting things,” Dorsey said. “That’s the exciting part about working with him: getting him back to the elite level of who he is.”
Watson made just six starts in his second season in Cleveland b efore fracturing his right shoulder during a comeback win at Baltimore. He's only played 12 games since the Browns signed him to a $230 million contract, creating more urgency in 2024.
And that's where the 42-year-old Dorsey comes in.
He helped Newton become league MVP in 2015 when he led the Panthers to the Super Bowl. Under Dorsey's guidance in Buffalo, Allen became one of the league's top passers and QB capable of changing a game with his legs.
“When we made this decision very early on, Ken was a guy that we identified that could help us, help me, be an integral part of this offense,” Stefanski said of Dorsey, who was a backup in Cleveland from 2006-08. “Just watching Ken in college, in the pros, having success as a player, having success as a coach. He really fits who we are culturally.”
Stefanski said it's not yet decided who will call plays, something he has done since coming to Cleveland in 2020.
Dorsey called plays for the Bills, but made it clear that's not any priority.
“Play-calling to me is not as important as winning football games,” said Dorsey, who went 38-2 as a starter and won a national title at Miami. “To me, it’s more about, alright, what’s the decision that we feel most comfortable about moving forward to help our team win? And that’s the only thing that matters to me.”
Dorsey didn't want to revisit the circumstances of his ouster by Bills coach Sean McDermott after 10 games.
“At the end of the day the head coach decided to make a change and that’s something that I’ve turned the page on,” he said. “I’m really excited to be here and more focused on this opportunity than what happened there.”
Stefanski overhauled his offensive staff just days after the Browns lost 45-14 to the Houston Texans in the playoffs. Along with firing Alex Van Pelt, he dismissed running backs coach Stump Mitchell and chose not to retain tight ends coach T.C. McCartney.
Mitchell has been replaced by Duce Staley, let go last season in Carolina, and McCartney by Tommy Rees, Alabama's offensive coordinator last season under Nick Saban. Jacques Cesaire is Cleveland's new defensive line coach.
Stefanski still has to fill the offensive line opening created when Bill Callahan, regarded as one of the league's best, left to join his son Brian's staff in Tennessee.
Stefanski joked about the “very unique” father-son coaching dynamic.
“He’s going to work for Brian," Stefanski said of the elder Callahan. “I can’t wait for Brian to boss him around. The dream of every kid is to boss their parents around. Happy for those guys. Organizationally, we realized that’s a unique situation and did not want to stand in the way of that.”
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