I’ll admit it – I was initially hesitant to board the John Dorsey hype train. While many fans celebrated the day he was hired as the Cleveland Browns‘ new GM, believing he’d finally fix this mess of a franchise, I held off. I’d seen far too many new arrivals “win the press conference” with this team, only to prove months later they had no idea what they were doing.
It’s safe to say that, with Dorsey, I’m starting to buy in now. It’s mainly because he’s starting to eliminate one of the major reasons this franchise has struggled for so long – organizational chaos.
Anyone who’s followed the Browns knows the word “toxic” has been used frequently over the past few years. An air of disorder often permeates from the team facility, as rumors often run rampant about how much of a mess the front office is. Nobody knows what they’re doing, owner Jimmy Haslam is overstepping his boundaries and, before you know it, another regime is cleaned out.
Fans have endured this cycle every year since Haslam bought the team, leaving many to wonder if anything would ever change under his watch.
Then he hired Dorsey.
I thought it was possible for the new GM to finally get this franchise back on track. I just didn’t think he’d start making this much progress this quickly.
However, just look at what he’s done in a little under a year’s time to help drag this team out of the mud.
For one, he was the driving force behind finally getting rid of coach Hue Jackson.
Per reports, Haslam was leaning towards staying the course, letting Jackson stay on despite a 3-36-1 record over the last two and a half years. Instead, Dorsey convinced him otherwise, assuredly telling him things would only get worse if Cleveland kept its coach.
Not only did Dorsey effectively convince Haslam to get rid of Jackson, he also appears to be the first person to ever convince the Browns’ owner to step aside when it comes to the next coaching hire. This move alone shows just how much progress Cleveland’s new GM has made, as Haslam’s constant interference has held this team back ever since he purchased it.
Of course, Dorsey’s ability to change the dysfunctional culture in Cleveland stretches far beyond firing Jackson.
For one, he appears to understand how the draft works, something very few former Browns GMs can say. Three of his first four picks from this past spring – Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, Nick Chubb – have made instant impacts. Thanks to Dorsey, we no longer have to hear members of the Browns organization complain about a lack of talent on the roster.
However, one of the most important moves he made occurred in the wake of the coaching change.
Knowing how fragile the team was after dealing with the power struggle between Jackson and former offensive coordinator Todd Haley, Dorsey had to adjust the coaching staff to ensure the rest of the season wasn’t a death march. He had to replace two of the most important positions, but also do so in a way which would still allow this team to develop heading into next year.
As you can see, it’s no easy task. Yet, two games in, Dorsey’s moves have helped reinvigorate the team heading into the final weeks of the year.
Interim coach Gregg Williams has helped the team refocus on the little things which were hurting their performance on a weekly basis. New offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens has simplified the weekly game plan, working directly with the players to ensure everyone was on the same page come Sunday.
As a result, the Browns have shown fight in each of their past two games, the latest a stunning double-digit victory over a surging Atlanta Falcons team. Dorsey’s moves have not only lit a competitive fire under the players, they’ve also re-energized a team which appeared to be on the verge of imploding.
The same old Browns we’re used to? They fold after Jackson’s firing. They hear noise about the toxic atmosphere in the front office, and just tuck their tails while trudging through the rest of the season. They show less and less fight with each passing week.
That doesn’t seem to be the case this time around. There are no scathing stories from Jason La Canfora portraying the organization as a constant circus. No coaches are leaking to the media in order to push their agenda. No players are moping, waiting out the rest of another failed season.
All of this is thanks to Dorsey, who continues to make strides towards putting the toxic nature of this franchise in the rear-view mirror.