The Cleveland Browns didn’t waste much time at all in announcing that they were firing Freddie Kitchens on Monday. The first-year head coach had not taken the team even as far as they had gotten the year before, and Jimmy Haslam quickly became convinced that he doesn’t have what it takes to do so, and thus relieved him of his duties less than a year into his tenure.
Yesterday, he announced another major decision, one of which I’m personally much more skeptical. The official word is that the team and general manager John Dorsey mutually agreed to part ways, with Dorsey declining to accept the owners’ proposal for a new front office structure, which would presumably remove some power from his position.
In the two full seasons in which Dorsey operated as general manager, the team posted records of 7-8-1 and 6-10. The former is their best record they have posted since 2007, and the latter is the third-best since that time. It’s also the first time since 2002 that they won at least six games in consecutive seasons.
By most accounts, Dorsey was successful in building among the most talented rosters in the NFL over the past two years, which included the drafting of Myles Garrett and Baker Mayfield, both first-overall picks in 2017 and 2018, respectively. He traded the team’s 2019 first-round pick in the acquisition of wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.
After finishing the 2018 season on a 5-2 run to finish just under .500, there was budding optimism for this past season, and that only grew with the acquisitions of Beckham, Sheldon Richardson, and Olivier Vernon, plus the drafting of Greedy Williams, for whom they traded up in the second round, becoming an instant starter alongside Denzel Ward.
The Browns no doubt do have a lot of talent on the roster, and that is the primary concern of the general manager. It’s up to the coaching staff to figure out how to put it all together on the field and produce a winning effort. I’m not sure how much blame Dorsey deserves for this season—unless Mayfield ends up being a bust.
Purportedly, one of the reasons that both parties elected to part ways is because the team’s focus this offseason is acquiring a strong leader at head coach for 2020 and beyond. And perhaps they felt Dorsey’s presence in the general manager role would be antagonistic toward that effort.
For whatever reason, the Browns are now looking for not just another new head coach—Haslam has fired five of them now since buying the team in 2012—but also a new general manager at the same time.