John Dorsey deserves as much blame as anyone for Cleveland Browns struggles
As the Cleveland Browns sit at 2-5 on the season, all fingers are pointing at Freddie Kitchens. But why isn’t John Dorsey getting more of the blame?
After another loss, the Cleveland Browns sit at 2-5 as they near the midpoint of the NFL season. Rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens has taken a lot of the blame for the struggles, but general manager John Dorsey really deserves much more blame for the struggles than he has been getting.
When Dorsey came in and promised to make changes, he did just that. He got rid of players that weren’t all in on winning, and brought in an insane amount of talent in a short amount of time. Things changed quickly for the Browns, who went from 0-16 to having the talent to win the AFC North and make a playoff run.
Eight weeks into the 2019 season, however, and things have gone quite opposite of how they were supposed to. Baker Mayfield‘s progression just hasn’t happened in year two. After breaking the NFL record for passing touchdowns by a rookie, Mayfield will be lucky to even come close to matching that number this year.
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The acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr. that was supposed to open the offense up and make it more explosive has been nothing short of a failure. And let’s not even talk about the offensive line, a unit that Dorsey ignored this offseason that has struggled mightily.
Sure, a lot of these failures do come because of coaching scheme failure, a lack of experience, and a difficult early-season schedule. The amount of penalties the Browns have racked up this season on false starts, holding, and other disciplinary fouls are a mixture of bad coaching and bad execution by the players on the field.
Kitchens has looked every bit a rookie head coach this year, and he has to answer for his mistakes. But Dorsey shouldn’t be let off the hook. His decisions are a big part of why the Browns are in the position they are in.
Dorsey came to Cleveland promising change, and change he has brought. But not all of the change has been for the better. For one, he knew following the 2018 season that even though Greg Robinson and the rest of the Browns offensive line played better than expected down the stretch, they still probably couldn’t be relied on and needed improving.
He failed to do anything to try to fix the weak points along the offensive line, and instead traded away one of his better offensive lineman in the trade that netted Olivier Vernon.
While Vernon has played well in his time as Browns player, he hasn’t been wreaking havoc like he was probably expected to. But he was playing well enough to move second-year linebacker Genard Avery to a reserve role.
Avery was active in only two games this season, before being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday afternoon. That trade was just another in what seems to be one of Dorsey’s trademarks. “If you were a starter but move to a backup role, we don’t need you anymore.”
Dorsey has done the same with several players who have found success elsewhere, such as Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, and Jason McCourty, all of whom have found success in other organizations.
Cleveland’s GM has also had very little success in drafting, and often seeming to overdraft players. While the selections of Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb look to be remarkable, there are several questionable decisions.
The decision to draft Austin Corbett, an offensive lineman who they wanted to play offensive guard (a position he had never played before) when there were better guard prospects still on the board, and Chad Thomas, were both seen as poor picks at the time.
Fast forward to today, and while Thomas is on the team still, the Browns have already given up on the project that was Corbett for future draft compensation.
Perhaps the biggest blunder under Dorsey’s reign as general manager comes in his only ever head coaching hire. Dorsey hired Freddie Kitchens, a man who was a play-caller for eight games in his 12 year NFL assistant career.
Sure, Baker and the Browns offense looked very impressive during those eight games but perhaps there was a reason that Kitchens had never seen an offensive coordinator role in his past stops as an assistant coach.
The evidence is also there that Kitchens may not have been the true reason for Baker and the Browns offense having as much success down the stretch as they did. Looking at how he has managed play-calling, the team structure, and his in-game decision making week in and week out, it’s evident that he is clearly in way over his head.
John Dorsey came into Cleveland and said all the right things, and much like previous general managers for the Browns, he was praised for it. He was seen as a deity, one who could do no wrong, and one that couldn’t be talked down on.
Coming up on the two year anniversary of his hiring in December, however, and Cleveland fans are growing impatient. All eyes are on Kitchens, but if Kitchens is out, and Dorsey makes another poor hire that can’t turn this team into the winners they are expected to be, the fingers will slowly start to turn towards him.
Not all problems fall on the head coach, after all. Sometimes, problems start from the top and go down from there.