Cleveland’s new offensive coordinator won’t have to change his plates.
Cleveland is also hiring Vikings defensive assistant Jeff Howard as its pass game coordinator/defensive backs coach, a source told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Van Pelt, 49, spent the last two seasons coaching Andy Dalton and Ryan Finley in Cincinnati. Before that, he had coached QBs and RBs in Green Bay (2012-17), QBs in Tampa Bay (2010-11), QBs in Buffalo (2008-09) and QBs with the Frankfurt Galaxy (2005). Van Pelt was also the Bills offensive coordinator for one season under Dick Jauron in 2009. This will be his first OC job since then.
A quarterback at Pitt in the early 1990s, Van Pelt spent 11 seasons in the league as a backup QB, playing in 31 games and starting 11, all of them for Buffalo.
Under new Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, Van Pelt will be tasked with maximizing the rich talent on Cleveland’s offense, from Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb to Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. The Browns underwhelmed in their first and only season with Freddie Kitchens as head coach and Todd Monken as offensive coordinator. With Kitchens calling plays all year, and refusing to hand over duties to Monken, the Browns took a step back from 2018, ranking 22nd in both points and yards per game in 2019.
It’s unclear if Van Pelt will call plays in Cleveland. Stefanski said in his introductory presser he would do whatever’s best for the Browns in all respects.
“I think we’re gonna work through that,” Stefanski said on Jan. 14. “I think as we put the staff together if there’s someone that’s on staff that I feel gives us the best chance to win, that person will call plays. It doesn’t have to be me, but I think I want to work through that and see as we put this staff together.”
As the staff comes together, with Andrew Berry in as general manager and Van Pelt coming on as OC, Stefanski’s selfless vision will take shape. Whether the Browns will be better for it will be determined by their play in autumn.