As is becoming a regular occurrence in the life of a Cleveland Browns fan, we have been reading about how the franchise is ripping up their previous great idea to turn the team’s fortunes around and start again with the all-new greatest idea yet.
It wasn’t long ago that we were being told that a more analytical route would be taken by the Browns to rebuild the roster from the ground up. Hey, it worked in baseball so why not in football, right? Well, a couple of seasons of that and we’re back to the mainstream way of thinking and trusting the “football guys” again.
After the firing of Executive VP of Football Operations, Sashi Brown, we have the new guy in town, John Dorsey. He has been involved in successful franchise building previous to his recruitment by the Browns in both Green Bay and Kansas City and it’s hoped he can do the same in Cleveland.
The first order of business for a new GM of any team is to get their guys in around them to help them make the changes necessary. John Dorsey has wasted no time in doing just that and rightly so as they need as much time as possible to evaluate the team they have so as to make the best use of all the picks Sashi Brown stockpiled during his tenure in control. This is a very important off-season/draft for the Browns that has been planned for and worked hard towards and is intended to be a game-changer for the luckless Browns.
Dorsey has a strong scouting background as do the people he’s brought into his front office. These early signs are good for the franchise and are moves that I like and believe can finally get the team on the right track after several failed front office regimes previous.
So, we’ve got a capable guy in as GM but who has he brought in to stop the rot and get the good times back for the Cleveland Browns?
Eliot Wolf comes to the Cleveland Browns to be their new Assistant General Manager and is the son of Hall of Famer Ron Wolf. Ron Wolf is credited with bringing success back to the Green Bay Packers during his 10-years there between 1991-2001. He had a positive influence in John Dorsey’s progression within the sport whilst they were at the Packers and Dorsey has never forgotten that.
Eliot Wolf has been at the Green Bay Packers all of his football career which started in 2004 as an assistant. He actually started creating scouting reports at a young age whilst being around the game due to his dad. He’s worked his way through the ranks of the personnel department with steady promotions and was Director of Football Operations in Green Bay before taking the job in Cleveland as Assistant GM.
A highly regarded and sought after front office employee, Eliot Wolf has been tipped to be a GM for a few years now. He was strongly tipped to be made GM in Green Bay recently but that position was given to Brian Gutekunst (he was the Director of Player Personnel in Green Bay) instead.
Wolf is just one of a few Packers ties to Dorsey that have been brought to Cleveland to right the catastrophic wrongs of previous front offices/coaches.
Wolf is a full on “football guy” and is an addition to the Browns that I really like. Green Bay wanted to keep him and the Oakland Raiders also wanted him but John Dorsey got his man (and the guy I think will step into his shoes at some stage down the line if the Browns can keep him long enough) to start the overhaul of the Browns front office.
Highsmith has been given the role of Vice President of Football Operations in Cleveland after being Senior Personnel Executive with the Green Bay Packers. He’s another one that has made his way through the ranks in Green Bay after starting out as a scout under John Dorsey.
Alonzo Highsmith is well known as a player who was picked third overall in the 1987 draft by the Houston Oilers and as an executive after his playing days who convinced the Packers to take Donald Driver in the seventh round of the 1999 draft and then finding an undrafted free agent named Sam Shields in 2010. Driver went on to become one of the best wide receivers in Packer history and Shields became a pro bowler.
Highsmith is regarded as an important part of making the Packers the success they have been in recent years and another reason (along with Dorsey and Wolf) why the Browns fans, like me, should be excited about the future.
Noel is another of John Dorsey’s guys but not from Green Bay. This recruitment comes from Dorsey’s time in Kansas with the Chiefs where he was a part of helping the franchise build a strong team that would be a playoff contender year after year.
Noel has been a pro scout since 2015 and has risen quickly through the ranks to his new role as Assistant Director of Pro Scouting with the Browns.
His playing career consists of playing defensive back at Boston College from 2009-2012 before a quick flirtation with the Seattle Seahawks before the 2013 season. He could be one to watch.
Another grab from the Chiefs, Donahue will start his career with the Browns as a scout which is the position he held in Kansas City. During my look into the new hirings and firings within the Cleveland Browns front office, I’ve seen Donahue referred to as “a Kansas City Chiefs top scout”. Whether that was referring to his seniority or skill-level, I don’t know but I’ll take it and hope he can make a positive impact on the team.
As is the way when a head coach or GM moves teams John Dorsey has been bringing some of “his guys” over to the Cleveland Browns from the Kansas City Chiefs after his three years as GM there. Zegers will come into Cleveland to do the same job as he did in Kansas City as the College Scouting Coordinator.
The changes to staff within the Browns organisation hasn’t been confined to the overhaul of the front office as there have been coaching moves made as well. So far, we have had the firings of David Lee (QBs coach), Shawn Mennenga (special teams assistant), Stan Watson (special teams quality control), Kirby Watson (running backs coach) and Chris Tabor (special teams coordinator).
Perhaps the most recognizable of those firings is that of Chris Tabor who has been with the Browns as their special teams guy for the past seven years. He wasn’t available long as he has gone back to Chicago to be their special teams coordinator. He’s been with the Chicago Bears in the past (2008-2010) as an assistant special teams coach.
There have been a couple of hirings by Hue Jackson to add to his coaching staff as well. These come in the shapes of:
Henry comes in to the Cleveland Browns organisation as a wide receivers coach and the position vacated by Al Saunders who has been moved into an advisory role to Hue Jackson.
He would appear to be one of the coaches with the success of Odell Beckham on his CV. He served as New York Giants wide receiver coach from 2016-2017 and it was in 2016 that Beckham registered 101 receptions for 1,367-yards, which is the second-highest reception total in the teams history. At the same time, rookie Sterling Shepard had a good year with his 65 receptions which was good enough for second amongst rookies that year.
Not only did Adam Henry coach Beckham in the NFL but he did also whilst he was wide receivers coach at LSU. He had Jarvis Landry to coach at that time too. Beckham went 12th overall and Landry was a 2nd round pick in the 2014 draft. Could one of them be due a reunion with Henry in Cleveland soon?
After fifteen years with the Cincinnati Bengals as QB coach (for 13 years) and then offensive coordinator, Zampese comes to Cleveland to be a QB coach again……for now.
He’s proven himself to be a good QB coach as he’s helped Andy Dalton and Carson Palmer to become very good players at the highest level. As an offensive coordinator though, no thanks, after seeing his offense in Cincy. I just hope he hasn’t been snuck in under the guise of QB coach only to be promoted to OC and Hue Jackson’s puppet that allows him to retain play-calling duties if no other OC can (supposedly) be found – they already appear to have given up the idea of employing a highly regarded coach as their OC by not offering Sean Ryan of the Texans the position. I can’t help but feel that there’s a sort of power struggle going on at Browns Towers right now between FO and Hue Jackson. I say this due to the lack of interest and apparent feet-dragging with regards to Hue employing an OC and the reports that he’s now thinking he might not bother with one. This would be a disaster, in my opinion, as he’s proven already that he can’t handle both jobs. I get the impression Hue wants to be an OC with a HC salary.
If there is a power struggle going on at Browns Towers, the sooner Dorsey and his guys win it the better — sort it out Mr Haslam!
So, as a QB coach, I like the hiring of Ken Zampese but I just hope he’s not being lined up as pretend OC to allow Hue Jackson to retain control of the offense on gameday.
Jackson must have some hold over the organisation through his contract as it baffles me he’s still in a job. Are we in for another crap year of poor football as Browns fans or do we think they’re on the up with these new additions? I’m also intrigued to get things going to find out what’s going to happen with Hue and whether it was his playing staff, coaches, front office and, generally if you believe Hue, everyone else’s fault for the last couple of seasons other than his. Is it 3-and-out for the guy?
Title image source: wkyc.com