A disappointing season for the Cleveland Browns has resulted in the departures of head coach Freddie Kitchens and general manager John Dorsey. After a 6-10 finish to a season that brought playoff aspirations, it was these two men who took the fall for a team that has been described as undisciplined and unprepared.
About one month ago, Pro Football Network Insiders Ben Allbright and Tony Pauline reported that there was a disagreement within the organization regarding the future of Kitchens. On one side was Jimmy Haslam who had preferred to move on while Dorsey was vouching for Kitchens. After Haslam relieved Kitchen of his duties, he then turned his attention to Dorsey. After being unable to agree on a new front office structure, the two decided to mutually part ways.
Is Paul DePodesta finally getting his way?
This past weekend, Allbright and Pauline released another combined report but this time, it spoke more specifically about Dorsey and his unstable footing in the franchise. It also spoke of why Dorsey’s future was unstable, particularly because chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta was looking to gain a bigger voice in the organization.
Part of the reason for this is because DePodesta has made suggestions over the past several years, only to be tossed to the side by Haslam. For example, he wanted to hire Sean McDermott and then wanted to hire Kevin Stefanski. Both times, Haslam chose someone different for the head coach position – Hue Jackson and Freddie Kitchens, respectively.
Now, it is expected the DePodesta will have a bigger role within the organization and will have real input as to who the next coach is of the Browns.
Will it come down to Josh McDaniels and Kevin Stefanski?
As noted above, DePodesta wanted to hire Stefanski. Instead, the Browns went with Kitchens and Stefanski became the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. With Stefanski available to interview for head coach positions, will this be the obvious move in Cleveland? Not so fast.
Allbright is hearing that Browns co-owner Dee Haslam seems to prefer New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. In fact, a report on Tuesday afternoon seemed to suggest that the Haslams may offer full control of the organization to McDaniels. While we can’t confirm that report, it would certainly raise some eyebrows if it continues to pick up steam.
That said, McDaniels’ credentials are well known. He would come with a reputation of success as an offensive coordinator in New England, and he has plenty of diamonds to show for it. His head coaching resume is a bit more questionable, with his first head coaching stint in Denver ending poorly, and then the complete u-turn that he pulled on the Indianapolis Colts just a couple of seasons ago.
As for Stefanski, his star is shining bright and is on the rise. He was a little know part of the staff in Minnesota as recently as a couple of years ago. When Pat Shurmur left to take the head coach role in New York, the Vikings chose to bring in John DeFilippo as offensive coordinator, overlooking Stefanski. Stefanski only got the offensive coordinator role when the situation with DeFilippo deteriorated during the 2018 season.
Beyond McDaniels and Stefanski, there’s another candidate that may find his way to the top of the chain, and one who may be appealing to the Haslams considering his prior success.
In Pauline’s report from Saturday in which he mentioned Dorsey could be on his way out the door, he also stated that Mike McCarthy’s name was bounced around the Cleveland front office as a potential head coach for the Browns. On Tuesday, Cleveland media confirmed Pauline’s report as McCarthy will be the first candidate interviewed by the Browns this Thursday for their head coaching spot.
Can the Browns find some stability?
Pauline and Allbright report that Haslam is well aware of the reputation that is aligned with the Browns franchise under his watch, which is that it is unstable for both head coaches and general managers.
That’s why he may have turned to a respected voice in football – Urban Meyer. Allbright reports that Meyer, who has served as a consultant to the Washington Redskins, Colorado State, and the Jacksonville Jaguars, also spoke to the Haslams regarding the direction of the team.
Since the Haslam family took over ownership of the Browns in 2012, they have had five full-time head coaches and an interim head coach in Gregg Williams in 2018. To put that in context, the Browns franchise was founded in 1946 and in that time, they have had just 17 full-time head coaches, with nearly a third of them being in the seven years that Haslam has owned the team.
Who might the next head coach and general manager be?
We mentioned McDaniels and Stefanski as two leading candidates, with Mike McCarthy as another. For the GM post, Allbright says to watch Andrew Berry, the Philadelphia Eagles VP of Football Operations. Berry, who the Haslams hold in high regard, spent three years with the Browns as the VP of Player Personnel. This move makes sense if Stefanski is the one chosen to lead the Browns.
Another name to watch according to Allbright is Dave Ziegler, the Patriots Pro Scouting Director. Ziegler would make sense if McDaniels became the head coach as they have worked together in New England for a number of years.
And finally, if it’s McCarthy, Allbright says to keep an eye on current Browns assistant GM Eliot Wolf. Prior to joining the Browns with Dorsey two years ago, Wolf spent 13 years in the Green Bay Packers organization while rising through the ranks in the organization.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) December 31, 2019
The Haslams haven’t made the right choices since they took over as owners. They’ll get another chance in 2020 and DePodesta is expected to have influence over the direction of the franchise. For the sake of the passionate Browns fans, we can only hope they get this one right.
For more news on head coaches, coordinators, and general manager interviews, be sure to follow our 2020 NFL Interview Tracker. We will continue to monitor the situation and update as more news becomes available.