If you ask fans to name two things that made the Cleveland Browns 2018 season better than previous ones, most will be quick to give two answers. The rookie star quarterback Baker Mayfield, and new head coach Freddie Kitchens reigniting the offense. They’d be right. But most are also forgetting one thing. General manager John Dorsey is the key to the Browns’ success.
Mayfield and Kitchens helped give life to an annually underwhelming offense, but it wouldn’t have been possible without Dorsey’s savvy moves. It was Dorsey who painstakingly put the puzzle pieces together. He lined up all the right moves to ensure this broken franchise could be whole again.
John Dorsey Is the Key to Browns Success
Jimmy and Dee Haslam were largely blamed for the mayhem that was the Browns organization. ESPN‘s Seth Wickersham took us back to 2012 when the Haslam’s had plans to create the “NFL’s most modern football operation.” This team with a 1-31 record over two years couldn’t be further from the powerhouse they envisioned.
The Haslam’s Were a Disaster
Wickersham outlined the Haslam’s decisions from the time they took over ownership. Unreasonable demands during the NFL Draft, hiring staff they were advised against, sudden unwarranted firings of general managers. This wasn’t a recipe for greatness.
In 2017, the Browns were about to finish their second winless season. Dorsey was announced as the new general manager – Cleveland’s fourth in four years.
This was one of the few good decisions the Haslam’s made. Dorsey was a man born to handle pressure. The 2018 draft was a critical one that needed a person at the helm who could recognize talent, even if others didn’t see it.
Dorsey Is Ensuring Baker Mayfield Has a Future
There are few quarterbacks as polarized as Baker Mayfield was before the 2018 Draft. His accuracy and high passer rating made him a dream. His height and mental volatility made him high-risk.
Dorsey saw through all of it and knew Mayfield was the guy who would turn this franchise around. Through the murky waters, he saw the X factor. From here on out, Dorsey made calculated maneuvers that would ensure Mayfield had a future.
The Browns finally had some wins under their belt, including that beautiful Thursday night primetime game, that felt like a Super Bowl win. Some weeks later, that was a distant memory as they stacked up three losses in a row.
Dorsey Knew Hue Jackson Had to Go
It was time for the long-awaited firing of Hue Jackson. Inevitably, that meant letting offensive coordinator Todd Haley go. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was the ideal interim head coach. His aggressive, attacking 4-3 schemes put unrelenting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. That was exactly what the Browns needed. Meanwhile, Freddie Kitchens as interim offensive coordinator lit a fire under the offense and in eight games turned the team record from 2-5-1 to 5-3.
Dorsey Saw a Head Coach in Freddie Kitchens
As Eliana Brown of BrownsWire said, “internal discord would no longer be tolerated.” That was the message being heard loud and clear.
The Browns are headed in a direction they’re not used to – upward. Dorsey asserted his leadership and was the key decision-maker in the hiring of Kitchens as head coach. He clearly wants a coaching staff that isn’t divided. There needs to be a rapport between general manager and head coach. The Haslam’s didn’t realize this – so now Kitchens will report to Dorsey, not the owners.
The Browns are halfway down the road to being playoff contenders. It wouldn’t be possible without Dorsey driving this vehicle.
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