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The Ken Dorsey Dilemma

The Hurricanes need an OC, but is Ken Dorsey really the man for the job?

Carolina Panthers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Ken Dorsey is currently the Buffalo Bills passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Dorsey is also a former Miami Hurricane National Champion quarterback that guided The U back to prominence from mid-1999-2002. Dorsey completed his career in orange and green with a record of 38-2 as the starting QB.

After being drafted in the 7th round of the 2003 NFL Draft, Dorsey spent three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, three with the Cleveland Browns, and one with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.

After retiring from pro football, Dorsey spent a short time coaching high school football and at IMG (2011) in Florida before moving into the Carolina Panthers front office as a pro scout. After two seasons as a Panthers scout, Dorsey was promoted to quarterbacks coach and served in that role from 2013-2017.

Miami Hurricanes Beat Nebraska Cornhuskers for National Championship Photo by Jon Soohoo/WireImage

In 2011, Dorsey worked with Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Newton, as a 1st overall NFL Draft pick, had plenty of stroke in Carolina. Dorsey was there to guide Newton to an MVP season and Super Bowl 50 appearance with offensive coordinator Mike Shula. Eventually, Shula and Dorsey were both fired in Carolina.

In 2018, Dorsey spent the season as an athletic department administrator at Florida International University in Miami. After one year as an assistant AD under Pete Garcia, Dorsey returned to the NFL.

Over the last three seasons, Dorsey has been the quarterbacks coach of the Bills. He’s worked with highly regarded OC Brian Daboll in grooming Josh Allen for NFL superstardom. Under Dorsey, Allen went from being a curious prospect out of Wyoming to a 34 win QB in his three full seasons as the starter in Buffalo.

Cam Newton

What has been impressive is Dorsey’s ability to take someone like Newton, who played for three schools in four years of college football (Florida, Blinn Community College, and Auburn). Under Urban Meyer and Gus Malzahn, Newton didn’t learn the finger points of pro offenses, as you can see from the lack of success of either head coach to produce top rated NFL prospects at QB.

Newton and the Panthers had their most successful seasons with Dorsey as QB coach and Newton behind center. The uber-athletic Newton learned the NFL system quickly alongside his mentor Ken Dorsey. Alongside Dorsey, Newton won 49 games in five seasons as a starting QB and an MVP award. Without Dorsey, Newton won 26 games over parts of six seasons.

While the six-foot-five Newton seemed like a ‘can’t miss’ prospect when drafted, Josh Allen entered the NFL with much less clear future.

Josh Allen

Josh Allen wasn’t first overall but instead the 7th pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Allen was selected after Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and USC’s Sam Darnold. Where the Cleveland Browns got a good QB in Mayfield, the New York Jets failed to support Darnold, and the Bills put Allen into a great situation in struggling Buffalo.

Unlike Newton, who had won a National Championship as part of the Florida Gators and again as the starting QB at Auburn, Allen played at Wyoming in the Mountain West. The similarly built Allen struggled mightily in his Power 5 matchups his senior year in college. Allen threw three interceptions with no touchdowns against Iowa and Oregon in 2017.

As a sophomore in 2016, Allen threw one touchdown and five interceptions against Nebraska. He did, however, throw three TD’s with only one INT against Boise State and a 2:2 split against BYU in a losing effort. No one was doubting whether or not Allen had the size or arm strength for the NFL, he made NFL throws as a 20 year old college student, the questions were the level of competition and accuracy.

Allen had his detractors and was allowed to sit for the first half of his rookie season. It always helps to be in the position to let rookie QB’s sit and learn before starting in the NFL. If you take away the 11 games from his rookie season, Allen has thrown 93 TD’s with only 34 INT’s. Allen has also been an effective runner, rushing for 31 TD’s on 5.5 yards per carry in the NFL.

The Cons of Coach Dorsey

Carolina Panthers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

So with all of these high profile quarterbacks now under Mr. Dorsey, what’s the catch?

1- Dorsey hasn’t called an offense since his short stint as a high school OC in 2011. Being a position coach and a play-caller are very different animals. Should Mario Cristobal hire an OC that has to learn how to install an offense, and how to coach on game days, on the job? Coach Cristobal has given some play callers their break in the past, but that was at FIU, not The U.

2- Dorsey also has most of his experience at the professional level. The pace of installing an offense in college can’t be the same as the NFL. As close to ‘full-time’ players as college football QB’s are, they’re not professionals. They are monitored in how many hours can be spent with coaches, and they do have classes to attend. Can Dorsey adapt from the NFL model to be a successful college OC?

3- Why would Ken Dorsey leave the NFL hierarchy to drop down and be an OC in college? After his work with Newton and Allen, Dorsey has to be a next man up for an OC position in the NFL. Why would he derail his trajectory and have to worry about recruiting, eligibility, and the 20 hour rule when he could stay in the NFL and find himself potentially the OC with say the Jacksonville Jaguars and Trevor Lawrence at QB? Even if Dorsey did come to Miami, how long would he stay?

The wrap

Unlike many, I’m not as averse to Dorsey being the OC of the Hurricanes. I think it would be a great hire, a steal actually, for Mario Cristobal. I just don’t see Dorsey heading to Coral Gables when he could be headed to the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, or Chicago Bears to work with a young, pro QB and take his first OC gig in the league. But hey, stranger things have happened in this new Cristobal Era!