Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Dorsey launches search for Mr. Right

And they’re off.

John Dorsey is officially off on his quest to identify the next head coach of the Browns. Let the rampant speculation, ridiculous rumors and nonsense in general begin for the most important coaching move this franchise has made in a generation.

From the expansion beginning in 1999, which morphed into what arguably is the worst 20 years of football a National Football League team has ever turned out, to the current and most promising team since then, this is the moment Browns Nation has patiently waited for.

This is the run-up to the moment the Browns’ general manager affixes the bow around the franchise he has rebuilt – and will continue to rebuild – so successfully in the 13 months since he took over.

Now, it’s time to bring someone in who can complete the package he envisioned when he inherited a big, fat mess that turned into the second winless 16-game season in NFL history last season.

Although he doesn’t seem to be in a big hurry, Dorsey knows exactly what he wants as he prepares to carefully choose a head coach for the first time in his long, distinguished career.

“I want to be able to see everything.,” he told the Cleveland media earlier this week, implying everyone will be considered for what many believe is the most attractive coaching opening (of the eight) in the league this offseason.

“You don’t want to sell yourself short. Why not go see other people out here, too, just to see? We talk about doing our due diligence and what’s best for this organization. Why not go and look at everybody?”

He said the search would be “very thorough and very deliberate.” No timetable has been set. It probably will be a case where Dorsey will know instinctively who he wants, at which time he will end the interviewing process.

Among the early candidates are New England de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores; Indianapolis DC Matt Eberflus; Indy offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni; ex-Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy; Minnesota interim OC Kevin Stefanski; New Orleans tight ends coach Dan Campbell; ex-Indy and Detroit HC Jim Caldwell; Pittsburgh offensive line coach Mike Munchak, and Iowa State HC Matt Campbell.

Dorsey also interviewed (undoubtedly as a courtesy) current interim Browns coach Gregg Williams and interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens the last couple of days, but it is unlikely either will get the top job.

The GM has a certain profile in mind for his head coach. I’m not certain Williams and Kitchens fit that profile, although Dorsey is obviously very pleased and somewhat surprised they turned this team around so quickly in the second half of the season.

Look for him to resist the groundswell from the multitude of fans who would love him to remove the interim tag from Williams’ current title and make it permanent. He might, though, be tempted to offer him his job back as defensive coordinator back if he does not find a head coaching gig elsewhere.

Kitchens is not nearly ready to become a head coach. He’s just getting his feet wet as a coordinator. As he continues to grow in that area, though, a future head coaching job should come into focus.

He is also a candidate to be offered the job full-time in Cleveland pending approval of the new coach. His bonding with quarterback Baker Mayfield and resultant success weigh heavily in his favor.

Dorsey said he is looking for “a guy who can instill leadership into these young men, a guy who is a collaborative thinker . . . who is consistent on a day-in, day-out basis. . . . who players can look up to and go, ‘You know what? I’ll follow that guy anywhere.’

“Once you can get and identify a guy like that, those are the type of guys you’re looking for. The goal of this organization is to get what’s best for this organization. Find a man of character who can lead young men.”

One could interpret that in a number of ways. The guess here is he is looking for someone, not necessarily a high-profile candidate, to install even more stability in the franchise than Dorsey and his strong front office have already established.

A few more waves of candidates lurk around the corner, all of which will continue to excite an already anxious fan base. Another guess: The winner’s name has yet to be officially mentioned.

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