Monday, January 7, 2019

Thinking outside the box

When John Dorsey said the search for the Browns’ next head coach would be ”very thorough and very deliberate”, it tested the fans’ patience in the first week.

Six candidates were interviewed and, it seemed, many residents of Browns Nation hung on the outcome of every one in an effort to climb inside the head of the team’s general manager.

Most probably never gave thought that it is entirely possible none of those who sat down with Dorsey and the club’s rather expansive selection committee will make it to a second interview.

With six other National Football League teams with vacancies in the midst of conducting interviews, the competition to hire whom they believe will be the next great National Football League head coach will start heating up.

Many names are being bandied about in gossip circles, most of them well known in the coaching community because of their high profile status. A vast majority are coordinators on both sides of the football.

There is also a good chance Dorsey already knows who he wants and is determined to play out the process. Milk this thing for all it’s worth before revealing the winner.

At the same time, he risks losing his offensive coordinator, who has pulled off a decent-sized miracle in resurrecting a struggling offense in the second half of the 2018 season.

He probably will not allow Freddie Kitchens, whom interviewed Monday, to talk with any other team unless it’s for the position of head coach, a request he cannot stop unless he gives Kitchens the top job immediately. That’s not going to happen.

The only way he releases Kitchens is if his choice as the new coach wants to bring in his own man to run the offense. But considering the way Kitchens and Baker Mayfield bonded last season, Dorsey most likely will push hard  to keep his offensive chief.

So whom does the GM want? What is he looking for? What kind of coach best fits into his grand plan for the Browns?

The common denominator is stability. Dorsey has taken this moribund and forlorn franchise for the last two decades and turned into one its long-suffering fan base can glom onto with a lot more than more than just hope.

He is seeking a steady hand. Someone who can come in and continue to build on the groundwork he has laid in the 14 months he has been on the job. Continue the culture that has shifted 180 degrees.

There are lots of sound coordinators on the candidates’ landscape. Each brings a unique set of credentials and experience to the interview process.

The big question is whether Dorsey wants an offensive-minded head coach or one whose expertise lies on the other side of the football. He had a taste of both with Hue Jackson and then Gregg Williams.

Factor this in: The Browns were an entirely different football team on offense in the second half of the season. Tinkering with that success might be counterproductive.

The defense, thought to be the strength of the team at the beginning of the season, turned out to be a problem area, one that undoubtedly will be addressed in the offseason. It needs help from a coaching standpoint, more so than the offense.

So does Dorsey go offense or defense for his head coach? Or maybe something entirely different.

Next: An outsider to whom no one has given any consideration.

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