Kevin Stefanski could very well end up winning the NFL Head Coach of the Year award for the second time in his four-year career but he's still going to be needing to make some major staff hires this offseason. After going 11-5 but losing in the first round of the playoffs, the Browns decided to shake things up.
It was announced on Wednesday morning by Josina Anderson that three members of the offensive staff were let go. The biggest name was Alex Van Pelt, the offensive coordinator who spent the past four seasons in that role. They also said goodbye to T.C. McCartney who was an offensive assistant for two years before taking over as tight ends coach in 2022. The final name was Stump Mitchell, a fan (and player) favorite who coached running backs.
Mitchell was a holdover from the Freddie Kitchens staff in 2019 meaning he spent the past five seasons with the team and had coached many of their successful backs.
Browns could be making these moves to help Deshaun Watson
At first glance, it feels as though the Browns are making these moves for a specific reason -- to try and build their offense around Deshaun Watson. The $230 million quarterback was 5-1 in six starts (although P.J. Walker deserves one of those wins) but he never truly looked comfortable in the offense for a full 60 minutes.
Cleveland has already tried to change their receiving corps to fit Watson's preference but they're more likely to run fewer traditional sets, perhaps relying on the shotgun more often. Mitchell has had success coaching up his backs but they have been better when running in base formations where the quarterback lines up under center.
While Mitchell was the fan favorite, the move to let go of Van Pelt might be the most shocking. He and Stefanski seemed to work well together but that didn't keep him safe as they look for ways to make this pairing with Watson a success.