On Monday, the Browns officially announced Ken Dorsey as the new offensive coordinator. Yet, as the introduction began, head coach Kevin Stefanski took a moment to address all the recent changes to their coaching staff.
The Browns also announced on Feb. 5 the additions of Tommy Rees as tight ends/pass game specialist, Duce Staley as running backs coach and Jacques Cesaire as the defensive line coach.
"I'm really proud of the things that we've accomplished the last four years, and I just want to address TC McCartney, Stump Mitchell – huge parts of that success," Stefanski said. "We did a lot of really good things over the last four years together, and I'm proud of that and they're big parts of that. Alex Van Pelt – you guys know how I feel about AVP, the person, the coach. Very, very happy for him to be able to run that offense in New England. I know he'll do a great job.
"Bill Callahan, very unique situation there to go work for Brian, not with Brian," Stefanski continued. "He's going to work for Brian. I can't wait for Brian to boss him around. The dream of every kid is to boss their parents around. So happy for those guys. I think organizationally we realized that's a unique situation and did not want to stand in the way of that. And so excited for certainly Brian and Bill down there."
So, let's look at some other key takeaways from Monday's introductory press conference.
Emphasis on ball security
One of the main offensive struggles the Browns battled throughout the 2023 season was turnovers. They led the league with 37 total giveaways during the regular season – 23 interceptions and 14 fumbles for loss – and they had a giveaway/takeaway differential of minus-9. The Browns also lost the turnover battle in 11 games during the regular season.
The Browns dealt with a plethora of injuries throughout the season, starting five different quarterbacks and relying on backups and young players to fill in, which had its influence on the number of giveaways. Even so, they continually emphasized the importance of ball security, as Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry discussed its importance during their bye week in Week 5. Coaches and players frequently harped on the need to protect the ball.
It was also an issue in Buffalo during the 2023 season, as they finished the regular season with 28 giveaways, which was the seventh-most in the league. As Dorsey reflected on his time in Buffalo and what he could take forward with him to his role with the Browns, protecting the ball was a point of emphasis.
It's also been an early focus since Dorsey joined the coaching staff.
"We just literally had an offensive staff meeting and that was one of the factors that we talked about," Dorsey said on Feb. 5 during his introductory press conference. "We have some critical factors on offense that I believe in, and I think Kevin believes in them as well that we talked about this morning. And one of them is protecting the house.
"The best way to win games is to protect the football and make sure we're doing the right thing," Dorsey continued. "So however that's got to get done, we got to get it done. And to your point, wasn't good enough in my time for a stretch there in Buffalo and then for us here. So that will be a point of emphasis for us to make sure we're doing the right things to protect the football and from an offseason emphasis standpoint."
Strength of the offensive line
One of the strengths of the Browns offense during the 2023 season came in their offensive line – even as the line dealt with injuries of the season, beginning with losing T Jack Conklin in Week 1 to a season-ending knee injury and then losing T Jedrick Wills Jr. and rookie T Dawand Jones to injuries over the course of the season. They were anchored with veteran players like G Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller but had players like T Geron Christian and G Michael Dunn fill in and play important roles over the course of the season.
Yet, through the adversity they faced as an offensive line, their skill sets played a key role in the functionality of the offense.
"You can't help but get jacked up about this opportunity because of those guys up front," Dorsey said. "You watch them on tape, and you can't help but get excited about the guys that we got up there and what they're able to do because they are diverse in what they can do. You got a group of guys that can pull. You got a group of guys that can be zone blocking scheme guys. You got a group of guys that could come out and get movement at the point of attack in gap schemes and duo schemes. So that's the exciting part for me."
With a healthy offensive line next season, Dorsey will have those same capabilities for the offense. Yet, the Browns will have a change to the leader of their offensive line room, as offensive line coach Bill Callahan will join his son Brian on the Titans coaching staff. Yet, Dorsey believes with the right addition to the coaching staff, they have the pieces moving forward.
"Bill is one of the best out there," Dorsey said. "So, in order to replace him, we've got to make sure we're intentional with how we're doing it and making the decision that's in the best interest of us as a football team. And in that regard, then when we do make that hire, obviously there's an evaluation process there that he has to go through because he's the one coaching it and teaching it. But to your point, I think in offensive football, how are you successful? Let's evaluate what our players do well and make sure we're maximizing that."
State of the Browns offense
The Browns offensive success during the 2023 season had its ups and downs as they dealt with injuries to key starters and relied on younger players and backups to carry them through the season. They finished the regular season ranked 19th in the league with 4,011 total passing yards and 18th with 24 passing touchdowns. They were also 12th in the league with 2,017 total rushing yards and 14th with 15 rushing touchdowns.
As Dorsey has begun to evaluate the Browns offense last season, he said they can home in on different aspects of the offensive system and see what worked well and what could be improved.
"I mean, you watch this offense on film and there's a lot of exciting things about it, not only from a player standpoint, but what we're doing and creativity and different ways to attack a defense standpoint," Dorsey said.
There's also a factor that requires the offseason to play out before they know the full scope of the state of the offense. With the addition of players either in free agency or the draft, the Browns have to use offseason programs and training camp to learn about themselves as a team to fully realize the identity of the offense.
The Browns could be an 11 personnel, a 12 personnel team or a 21 personnel team, and that identity isn't quite clear without a full roster and knowing the depth of the receiving corps, running back or tight ends rooms. Yet, for Dorsey, that's a factor that encourages him about his new role.
"But I think that's the exciting part to come in now is to be a part of that and blend these kind of two different philosophies and incorporate different things that maybe we did in Buffalo or Carolina or whatnot," Dorsey said. "And then obviously, we've got some other coaches who are coming in who are going to be able to add from their experiences as well. And that's the exciting part. That's what makes ball fun, is to come in and really roll up your sleeves and say, where do we want to go?"