Browns should follow John Dorsey’s quarterback philosophy

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Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Former Cleveland Browns GM John Dorsey liked good QBs, and not just one

One thing former Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey had right is to hire the best quarterbacks possible, and not be afraid to hire more than one. Hire at least two, and preferably three, the best you can get without totally messing up the salary cap. Do not, do not, do not give away a good quarterback to appease someone’s ego and avoid the mythological “quarterback controversy.”

There’s no need for the Cleveland Browns to fire their first-string quarterback in order to draft a new one or sign one as a free agent as many have suggested in preparation for the upcoming off-season. Win as many games as you can, and keep the quarterback room full at all times. Signing a third quarterback is not a referendum on the performance of the first string guy.

Dorsey didn’t do everything right in Cleveland and in particular, he was not good at salary cap management, and there should be a league rule that a general manager can only hire one Freddie Kitchens per career. But man, he had the golden gut for quarterbacks. Give the man his due.

The Browns should continue to look for talent to add to the quarterback room and not quit obtaining quarterback talent just because they have a starting quarterback. Nor should they contemplate getting rid of Baker Mayfield if they acquire someone. If you want to propose getting rid of someone, it should be the third-string quarterback, not the first-string quarterback. This should be common sense. You perform addition by addition, not addition by subtraction.

Before coming to Cleveland, Dorsey made aggressive moves to obtain quarterbacks for the Kansas City Chiefs as their general manager. He signed Nick Foles as a free agent, traded for Alex Smith, and traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes. All of those moves drew sharp criticism at the time they were made. Foles eventually left Kansas City for Philadelphia, where he subbed for an injured Carson Wentz and won a Super Bowl for them in 2017.

Ironically, the Eagle faithful booed the drafting of Jalen Hurts in the second round this season because they saw no need for a second good quarterback (now they hate Wentz, but that is another story for another time). Alex Smith, for his part, was a two-time Pro Bowler, and they were able to make a good trade with Washington to get value in return when Mahomes was ready to start.

By that time, of course, Dorsey had been fired, partly because of his over-investing in quarterbacks. Mahomes was perceived as a “system quarterback” who accumulated meaningless statistics in the pass-happy Big 12, which would not translate to NFL success. However, Mahomes was the NFL MVP and the next year led the Chiefs to a miraculous Super Bowl win. Now there is talk that he may get his own statue in the Pantheon in Rome. Perhaps Mahomes was not quite as overrated as Dorsey’s critics had suggested.

In Cleveland, Dorsey signed Tyrod Taylor, a solid quarterback who had led the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs, and he drafted Baker Mayfield and he added a very experienced veteran in Drew Stanton with an 11-5 won-loss record for his career. Later he added unknown Garrett Gilbert, who had never gotten a chance in the NFL but who had shown promise in the Alliance of American Football. That’s not a bad quarterback room.

There may have been some hurt feelings when Taylor lost his job when he suffered a concussion and did not get his job back because Mayfield won the game and broke the season-long winless streak. But Taylor was totally, one thousand percent professional about it, and worth every penny of the salary the Browns paid him. Some fans with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight have made the argument that signing Taylor was unnecessary because Mayfield was not injured that season, but there was no way to be sure that Mayfield could have stayed healthy for all 16 games that season had he started. That’s a bit like saying that the fire extinguisher is a rip-off if your house never caught fire last year. It was a good decision to sign all three quarterbacks.

Andrew Berry took over for Dorsey and continued in a similar mindset. He augmented the quarterback room by signing Case Keenum, who has started 62 NFL games, including 14 games in Minnesota where Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was the offensive coordinator. Keenum produced an 11-3 record as a starter. That probably would not have happened in previous Browns regimes that were paranoid about having two good quarterbacks on the roster at the same time. Anyway, that was delusional because the Browns did not have any good quarterbacks, to begin with, and had no business worrying about having too many.

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