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Former Browns QB Ken Dorsey to be offensive coordinator

Ken Dorsey is coming back to the Browns.

His former team is giving him a second chance to be an offensive coordinator.

The Browns will hire Dorsey, a league source told The Chronicle-Telegram on Sunday night. Although not official, the news ended a nearly two-week search that included five known candidates.

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Dorsey, 42, played for the Browns from 2006-08, appearing in five games and going 0-3 as a starter in 2008. He’s one of 37 quarterbacks to start for the Browns since their return in 1999.

Dorsey became a coordinator for the first time with the Bills in 2022 and was fired during this season.

One of Dorsey’s primary responsibilities will be to work with and get the most from quarterback Deshaun Watson, who’s expected to be back next year after season-ending shoulder surgery. Watson has been limited to 12 starts in two seasons with the Browns and hasn’t regained the Pro Bowl form he had with the Texans.

Dorsey had a lot of success with Bills quarterback Josh Allen in 2022, as he went 13-3 as the starter and made the Pro Bowl.

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Coach Kevin Stefanski called plays in his first four seasons with the Browns, and it will be interesting to see if he continues to do so or hands the reins to Dorsey, who had the responsibility for a year-plus with the Bills. The decision hasn’t been made, according to the source.

The other known candidates to interview with the Browns were former Cowboys and Chargers coordinator Kellen Moore, former Eagles coordinator Brian Johnson, Texans quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson and Seahawks line coach Andy Dickerson.

Moore reportedly agreed Saturday to be the Eagles’ coordinator.

Alex Van Pelt had been Cleveland’s coordinator since 2020. Stefanski wanted to make a change and offered Van Pelt another job but he declined. He interviewed Friday to be the Raiders’ coordinator.

The Browns went 11-6 during the regular season, and Stefanski shook up his staff after the playoff loss. Running backs coach Stump Mitchell was fired, tight ends coach T.C. McCartney wasn’t retained and defensive line coach Ben Bloom will be reassigned if he stays.

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Dorsey quickly landed on his feet after being fired in November when the Bills fell to 5-5 with four losses in six games, including the sloppy backbreaking defeat to the Broncos. The offense was plagued by turnovers, and Allen led the league with 11 interceptions. The Bills had been held under 26 points for six straight games, matching the longest stretch since Allen was a rookie in 2018.

Dorsey was replaced by quarterbacks coach Joe Brady. Dorsey had replaced former Browns coordinator Brian Daboll, who was hired as coach of the Giants. Daboll was interested in having Dorsey follow him, but he stayed in Buffalo.

“He’s a really good coach, he does a good job with the quarterbacks,” Daboll said during his time in Buffalo. “We’re fortunate to have him. He’s instrumental in developing Josh and in game-planning.”

The Bills ranked fourth in total offense (374.2 yards) and scoring (26.8 points) under Dorsey in 2022. Allen completed 63.3 percent for 4,283 yards, 35 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 96.6 passer rating. He rushed 124 times for 762 yards and seven touchdowns.

In the 10 games this season with Dorsey he completed 70.3 percent for 2,600 yards, 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, with seven rushing touchdowns.

Dorsey’s experience with Allen could help as the Browns try to maximize the talents of Watson, although they’re different types of runners.

Stefanski adjusted his system last offseason in an attempt to make Watson as comfortable and effective as possible and will likely make more changes in collaboration with Dorsey.

Dorsey, who won a national championship with the University of Miami in the 2001 season, began his coaching career in 2013 as quarterbacks coach with the Panthers and spent eight years in that role between the Panthers and Bills. During Dorsey’s time with the Panthers, Cam Newton was the league MVP in 2015 after totaling 45 touchdowns as the Panthers went 15-1 and reached the Super Bowl.

Allen wanted Dorsey to take over as coordinator when Daboll left.

“When he got here three years ago, my career definitely changed in terms of how I viewed the game of football,” Allen said of Dorsey. “Just having a guy in the quarterback room that played the game, was the winningest college quarterback of all time — 38-2, he’ll never let me forget that, he says it all the time — but just the way he approaches the game, he’s competitive, he’s smart, he works his a– off.”

Dorsey’s passion was on display after a loss to the Dolphins early in 2022, as cameras caught him violently slamming his headset and tablet in the coaches box.

“It’s something I’m going to learn from,” he said.

The Browns previously settled on a couple of coaching hires. Duce Staley will lead the running backs, Tommy Rees will coach the tight ends with potentially other duties and Jacques Cesaire was hired Saturday as defensive line coach.

It’s unsettled if Dorsey is the final move involving the staff.

Staley, 48, had a 10-year career as a running back with the Eagles and Steelers, winning a Super Bowl with Pittsburgh. He was hired by the Panthers in 2023 as assistant head coach and running backs coach — the same titles he held the previous two years with the Lions — but was fired after coach Frank Reich was fired during the season.

Rees, 31, spent 2023 as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the University of Alabama. Coach Nick Saban recently retired after the Crimson Tide lost in the national semifinals.

Rees went 23-8 as quarterback for Notre Dame from 2010-13 and coached on the Fighting Irish staff from 2017-22. He was quarterbacks coach for the entire stint and coordinator the final three seasons.

Cesaire spent the last two seasons as defensive line coach with the Houston Texans, who didn’t renew his contract after this season. The Browns beat the Texans on Dec. 24 then lost to them Jan. 13 in the wild card round of the playoffs.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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