The Cleveland Browns decided to change things up this offseason by swapping out Alex Van Pelt for Ken Dorsey at Offensive Coordinator in January.
Though Van Pelt has been fairly well regarded during his time in Cleveland, it was time for the team to make adjustments to better suit what the offense is ultimately trying to do going forward. By making this change specifically, it could signal that the Browns want to emphasize offensive efficiency and sustainability as a whole.
Something that the team has been especially bad at, which is currently an undervalued facet of the game, is their inability to convert on 3rd downs consistently.
Cleveland’s 3rd down conversation rate has been getting worse and worse each year which has been very noticeable, especially in the 3rd and 4th quarters when the team is trying to “close out” the game. The Browns’ offense hasn’t been able to consistently sustain drives and march down the field in crucial situations due to a lack of creativity on 3rd downs.
This is where Ken Dorsey shines as an offensive mind.
He’s very similar to Kevin Stefanski in terms of what he likes to do schematically such as using lots of play-action in the passing game, emphasizing tight end usage, and displaying an overall commitment to running the football. Where he differs is in play design and sequencing in certain areas, such as on “3rd & short” and in scenarios that may come off to defenses as obvious run situations.
For example, Ken Dorsey sometimes lined up in 12, 13, or even 22 personnel in Buffalo on 3rd and 3, which caused defenses to naturally utilize their “base” package where they would have three linebackers on the field. Dorsey would then shift and motion out into a “3x1” formation which caused mismatches all over the field because of the size discrepancy of the personnel. Dorsey would essentially be able to force the defense to cover TE Dawson Knox or TE Dalton Kincaid with a slower, less athletic linebacker or have better blocking for perimeter runs or screen passes.
This is what the Browns offense has been missing for a while now. The lack of innovation in crucial down-and-distance situations has prevented them from taking the next step offensively.
Here is Cleveland’s 3rd down conversion rate over the past three seasons:
- 2021, record 8-9: 39.15% (18th in the NFL)
- 2022, record 7-10: 38.10% (21st in the NFL)
- 2023, record 11-6: 32.46% (29th in the NFL)
Here is Buffalo’s 3rd down conversion rate in the same time frame with Ken Dorsey having “some” or full control of the offense:
- 2021, record 11-6: 47.33% (2nd in the NFL)
- 2022, record 13-3: 50.23% (1st in the NFL)
- 2023, record 11-6: 49.39% (1st in the NFL)
A team’s ability to consistently use up the clock and keep their offenses on the field by converting 3rd downs is massively underappreciated in today’s game, but it directly correlates to an offense’s success more often than not.
The Browns are so unbelievably close to being a consistent threat in the postseason, and pairing Kevin Stefanski with Ken Dorsey in sort of a “1A-1B” situation could end up being exactly what this team has needed for the past 3-4 years.
Do you believe that Ken Dorsey will help this Cleveland offense unlock its full potential? Join fellow Browns fans in the comment section below.