According to Albert Breer, the Browns decided to move on from Van Pelt because they didn’t feel Deshaun Watson had progressed under his coaching. That is entirely possible, especially given how dysfunctional the Browns have been under the Haslam's ownership. But, for obvious reasons, Watson has only played 12 games in the last three years.
In his first year as a Brown, he went 3-3; last season, he was 5-1. Looks like progress to me. There is also the caveat that Nick Chubb only played two games this year, and the Browns’ first-choice offensive tackles only played nine games between them in 2023.
If the Patriots believe in that report, then it seems unlikely they’ll draft a starting quarterback for Van Pelt to develop. So, the first thing to expect under Van Pelt is an experienced signal caller. There will be 30 quarterbacks available in free agency, headlined by Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield.
The only thing all the free agents have in common is that half the fan base will absolutely love them, and the rest will grumble.
Who is the Patriots' new offensive coordinator, Alex Van Pelt?
Van Pelt began his coaching career back in 2005 at Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe. He was the quarterbacks coach in a quarterback room that included Akili Smith. Then he spent four seasons in Buffalo; in 2009, he was the offensive coordinator when Ryan Fitzpatrick was at quarterback.
That team was predominantly run first, with Marshawn Lynch backing up Fred Jackson. That team ended the season 6-19. And that offense was ranked 30th for passing yards and 16th for rushing yards. Looks like good news for Rhamondre Stevenson, then.
In 2010, Van Pelt moved to Tampa Bay to be the Bucs quarterback coach under Raheem Morris. The Buccaneers quarterback in 2010 was Josh Freeman, who went 3-6 in his rookie season. With Van Pelt as the quarterback coach, Freeman went 10-6, but the Buccaneers ended the season 3rd in the NFC South!
The Falcons ended that season 13-3, and the Saints went 11-5. The following season, Freeman led the team to just four wins.
Van Pelt would then move to the Packers, where he spent two seasons coaching the running backs. He then coached the quarterbacks (well, Aaron Rodgers mostly) and even spent a season as the QB/WR coach. It’s always tricky to know how much a coach has influenced Rodgers’; the “maverick” label hints at a supremely talented athlete. But it also usually implies a heavy undertone of arrogance.
And Rodgers’ favorite offensive coordinator is reportedly Nathaniel Hackett who is coming off the back of a few disappointing years. ESPN reported that Rodgers was “miffed.” that Van Pelt didn’t stay in Green Bay in 2018. If nothing else, it’ll make the next two games with the Jets intriguing.
Van Pelt’s next gig was in Cincinnati, coaching Andy Dalton and Jeff Driskel under Bill Lazor’s guidance. They went 6-10 in his first season and 2-14 the following year in Zac Taylor’s first season as Bengals head coach. That’s how Joe Burrow wound up back in Ohio.
Somehow, after those rough two years, Van Pelt wound up as the Browns offensive coordinator for four seasons. In his first season, he and Baker Mayfield racked up an 11-5 record and would eventually lose to the eventual Super Bowl winners, the Chiefs. The Browns' offense was ranked 3rd for rushing yards and 5th for rushing touchdowns in Van Pelt's first season. But only 24th for passing yards.
The following season, Cleveland would end the season 8-9 after starting three different quarterbacks (Browns gonna Brown, right?). That season, they ranked 4th for rushing yards, 7th for rushing touchdowns, and 27th for passing yards! The Browns won 38 games during Van Pelt’s four seasons as offensive coordinator.
If the Patriots win nine games in 2024, it’ll be a significant improvement from the 2023 season.
There’s still a huge question mark over the quarterback position (and the offensive line), but Van Pelt seems like a safe pair of hands. If there's one thing you can expect in New England next year, it's a huge season from Rhamondre Stevenson.
Maybe Ezekiel Elliott will sign up for another season?