The Browns’ 2019 failures rest most heavily on one man – John Dorsey.


Freddie Kitchens has been shown the door and has been made the scapegoat for the Cleveland Browns’ disappointing 2019 season.

Should he be gone?   Certainly.   He was ill-prepared for the job and appeared to be either too stubborn or lacked the self-awareness and survival instincts to make the changes necessary to improve.

But who hired Kitchens and why?  That is the real question worth asking now the Kitchens experiment is an admitted failure.


John Dorsey (47929567422)

History is the best predictor of future conduct.  So, let’s start with that. 

Dorsey was relieved of his duties as General Manager in Kansas City because he lost a power struggle with veteran head coach Andy Reid.   Kansas City clearly made the right choice.  

The Chiefs with their Wunderkind general manager Brett Veach (Patrick Mahommes’ champion) haven’t missed a beat since showing Dorsey the door.   In short order, they righted a shaky salary cap situation Dorsey created with smart moves.   A couple of those moves have included adding starting offensive linemen that Dorsey has flat out cut from the Browns – guard Andrew Wylie and center Austin Reiter.   

As his first priority, Veach has rebuilt a lackluster defense, allowing the Chiefs to secure the number two seed in the AFC playoffs and a first-round bye.    Finally having a defense that can make stops, Kansas City is a legitimate Superbowl contender under Andy Reid’s direction with Veach’s help.

After inheriting Hue Jackson, Dorsey was given carte blanche to pick the Browns’ head coach this year.  He made the curious pick of Freddie Kitchens.   Kitchens had never been a head coach at any level.   Kitchens had a half season of offensive coordinator experience under his belt.   

So what commended Kitchens?   Two things: 1) his close relationship with Dorsey’s number one overall pick, Baker Mayfield and 2) Kitchens would not pose a threat to Dorsey’s authority.   Veteran head coaches like Mike McCarthy didn’t need to apply.   Dorsey got his man and his reputation should be staked on it.

Hiring Baker’s buddy to be his coach and further surrounding him with “yes men” such as Ryan Lindley and Tyler Tettleton (who followed Baker from Oklahoma) proved to be a grave mistake.   It became an “Emperor’s new clothes” situation with nobody to keep Baker honest or to deliver meaningful criticism.    Baker himself reluctantly admitted he did not do enough to get ready for the season.

Hiring an inexperienced coach to be Dorsey’s own “yes man” proved even more damning.   Freddie Kitchens never had the respect of Baker Mayfield or the likes of Jarvis Landry, Beckham or the majority of players on the young and even more immature Browns’ roster that Dorsey has cultivated.    Kitchens was in over his head from day one.  No veteran coach such as an Al Saunders or Ken Zampese was kept on staff to be a sounding board for the inexperienced Kitchens.

The one thing Dorsey provided his head coach and quarterback was a mantra: that nothing and no one outside the building matters.  During the preseason we consistently heard about how much Kitchens and Mayfield didn’t care.     While the “bunker” mentality can and has brought teams together in the past, it was the wrong message at the wrong time for the wrong team.

Baker was empowered to embrace his immaturity.   He  didn’t start blocking out his critics to avoid distractions.   Instead, Baker took his critics head on.  Baker has received support in telling the world that he is going to do things his own way and that he is not a “cookie cutter quarterback.”    That attitude ignores that the “cookie cutter” qualities of guys like Tom Brady and Drew Brees is what has made them great, while other more naturally gifted passers like Jay Cutler went on to have disappointing (although lucrative) NFL careers doing it “their way.”

Similarly, adopting John Dorsey’s message, Freddie was empowered to stubbornly ignore the mistakes he made week after week in attempting to make Baker, OBJ and Jarvis the focus of the offense instead of what the Browns did the best – run the football.

Dorsey’s choice of Freddie as head coach and his organizational message were not the only problems he heaped upon this team, however.    The roster construction looked like what any twelve-year-old with a year of fantasy football under his belt might do with the embarrassment of riches Dorsey acquired in draft and salary cap capital.

Dorsey inherited a team with three solid interior lineman (Zeitler, Tretter and Bitonio) and Joe Thomas, who announced his retirement.   It had Austin Reiter and Andrew Wylie as reserves.   The Browns had immediate needs at the tackle positions.  Two years later, that offensive line has become weaker and not for lack of moves.

The Browns still need two tackles, and now a guard as well.  The squad ended the 2019 season with two above average linemen – Tretter and Bitonio.  Both were on the roster when Dorsey took over.   

Dorsey signed Hubbard to a big contract.  That was a blunder.   Dorsey drafted Corbett with the first pick in the second round.  Corbett has already has been traded for a fifth round draft pick.    He’s brought in guys like Eric Kush and Greg Robinson and Wyatt Teller who have not improved the line.   Dorsey cut guys like Reiter and Wylie who are doing respectable jobs holding down starting positions on a top-flight offense.   

In two years nearly every move that Dorsey has made on the offensive line has been laughably wrong.

All that scouting of Mayfield Dorsey did when he was unemployed and he apparently didn’t notice the biggest guy on the field at Oklahoma -- Orlando Brown, Jr.  Brown, who is of an NFL pedigree, was available in the third round of the 2018 draft where Dorsey took Chad Thomas.   Ozzie Newsome took notice and landed himself a draft steal.

Dorsey’s biggest splashes have been trades for big-name receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr.   He’s committed $30 million annually in cap space to the two high maintenance receivers and surrendered substantial assets to do it.   Very few GMs would support that type of cap allocation on the position.   

The bigger problem is that Dorsey made a major miscalculation regarding how much the acquisition of OBJ would help Mayfield in his second year.  It hurt him instead. While he was supposed to be growing in the quarterback position, Mayfield had to contend with the super-sized ego of OBJ and his “get me the ball” mentality.   This lead to Mayfield sometimes eschewing the correct read to attempt to satiate OBJ.   It didn’t work.  Beckham had a very poor 55% catch rate and Baker’s passer rating when targeting OBJ was lower than his overall average.   

For much of the year OBJ was a distraction to the team – the watch, the visor, the goat shoes, the clown shoes, “come get me” moments and selfish, momentum-killing taunting penalties.

The Browns’ tight end position was a disaster of Dorsey’s making.   He so wanted to show that he was right on Demitrius Harris and that Andy Reid under-utilized him at Kansas City that he let a good all-purpose tight end walk out the door in Darren Fells.   Fells continued to be a plus blocker for the Texans and evolved into a red-zone threat for Deshaun Watson.

After Mayfield laid Njoku out to dry with a high throw that cost him the bulk of the season, there was no legitimate red zone receiving threat left for Baker on the team.  He was left with two receivers under 6' tall.   The tight end position was a non-factor that often produced negative plays.  The red zone magic of 2018 after Freddie took over evaporated.

Again, all that scouting of Mayfield that Dorsey did when he was unemployed and he failed to notice Mark Andrews making play after play for Baker.   Again, Ozzie Newsome didn’t, taking Andrews after Dorsey drafted Chad Thomas in the third round.

Although the Chubb/Hunt pairing is a very good one, it was not enough to buoy the offensive unit as a whole.   Mayfield’s declining play and the constant attempts of Kitchens to force feed the passing game made the offense a pedestrian one.

Finally, a passing offense is as good as its trigger man.  Blame whomever you want, but Baker did not look like a number one overall pick this season.   If the position were redrafted from the 2018 draft Baker certainly would not be the first QB drafted, and might even be the third or fourth quarterback off the board.
  
Not to beat a dead horse, but Ozzie drafted the league MVP thirty-one selections after Baker and one before Austin Corbett.   Having a great GM really does make a difference.   The Browns don't.

The Browns’ defense was more poorly constructed still.  Myles Garrett aside (who Dorsey inherited) the Browns’ defense is completely devoid of difference makers.    The addition of Olivier Vernon was subtraction.   Richardson and Ogenjobi were hot and cold depending on the game.   Behind those four there was no depth.   Dorsey acquisitions Chris Smith, Devaroe Lawrence and Gernard Avery were all jettisoned during the season, with only Avery providing any return. The season ended with three practice-level defensive linemen playing significant snaps.   


Steve Wilkes runs a safety-heavy scheme.   Dorsey knew this when Wilkes was brought in.  He supported Wilkes with the worst safety grouping in the league.  

The Steelers had pulled the plug on Morgan Burnett after one season because they realized in that short span of time he can no longer play consistently at a starter-worthy level.  

Jerome Whitehead is a special-teams quality safety at the very best who was forced into the starting line-up for lack of options.  

Randall had one decent year last season, but showed this year why Green Bay wasn’t interested in exercising their option on him.   

The season ended with the Browns playing street free agent Justin Burris and another underwhelming John Dorsey draft pick, Sheldrick Redwine to disastrous results.

It wasn’t much better at linebacker.    Beyond Joe Schobert, who is a fringe starter at linebacker, Dorsey provided Wilkes with Adarius Taylor and two mid-round rookies to make due after Christian Kirksey was lost to an early injury.   

Mack Wilson has some upside, but he was incredibly raw and should have been playing special teams and limited defensive snaps this season.   Although I am not a slave to PFF scores, Wilson’s 42.9 seems about right.   For every great athletic play he made, he was out of position for two more and showed poor tackling instincts.  

Sione Taki-Taki  (PFF grade of 64) and Taylor (PFF grade of 41) were/are practice squad level talents.   Taki-Taki’s relatively higher PFF score reflects that he played in limited packages and wasn’t asked to do all the things that a starting linebacker must.   He is simply not capable of picking up coverage responsibilities in today's NFL and was wildly overdrafted.

Finally, the young cornerback tandem of Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams is league average at their very best.   Their respective PFF scores of 69 and 54 actually would suggest a lower assessment.  

Together Ward and Williams lost numerous games to soft-tissue injuries and their absence was barely noticeable.  Especially toward the end of the year, Williams’ play declined and the college scouting report that he is not a willing tackler appeared to be dead-on accurate.  

The defense as a whole was not talented.  In fact, it was nearly devoid of talent after Garrett was lost for the season.   Without Garrett's presence to raise all ships on this defense, it never had a chance to make stops against good offenses. In that respect it looked much like the John Dorsey version of the Chiefs.

The Haslam’s must ask themselves more than if this team is more talented since John Dorsey walked in the door than it was when Sashi Brown was escorted out of it.  Of course it is.   That was the design.   Dorsey inherited unprecedented draft and salary cap capital to infuse the team with talent.   This season the Browns outspent all other teams with the exception of the Vikings.   The Brown-led front office was rolling over cap money to make the spending spree possible at the right time.

The Haslams must instead judge John Dorsey against what a good GM would likely do with the resources he inherited.   By any measure, Dorsey has failed that test.   His hiring of Kitchens and Dorsey's selfish and short-sighted reasons for the hire is a stain that can’t be washed away.   Because of it, in Dorsey we can never really trust.

On top of that, Dorsey himself did little to help his hand-picked coach from a talent acquisition or leadership standpoint.  With his calling card as a talent evaluator, Dorsey simply hasn't lived up to his hype.

It is time for the Browns to understand what Kansas City figured out a few years ago.  A good organization does not need John Dorsey.  It needs grown men who can put their egos aside and work together toward a common goal.

It's time to put away childish things and to get some adults in the room.
The Browns’ 2019 failures rest most heavily on one man – John Dorsey. The Browns’ 2019 failures rest most heavily on one man – John Dorsey. Reviewed by AT Dawgger on 12:13 PM Rating: 5

7 comments:

  1. It's easy now to pick and dissect each player now, but he did put a winnable team on the field. Players gave up on Kitchens weeks ago, so of course stats are deceiving somewhat.

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  2. Joni loves chachee. Same ol brown's.

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  3. In the 2018 draft Browns should have taken S.Barkly and J.Allen instead of Mayfield and Ward.

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