Former Pitt quarterback Alex Van Pelt was hired by Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski to fill the AFC North team’s offensive coordinator role on Wednesday, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The Pitt alum has served as a position coach with four other NFL teams and one NFL Europe team and brings 15 years of coaching experience to the table.
Van Pelt was most recently employed as a quarterbacks coach with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019, but he made headlines on his way out of the Green Bay Packers organization after the 2017 season, as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was notably upset with the team’s decision not to retain Van Pelt, who had coached him for the previous four years.
“Well, my quarterback coach didn’t get retained,” Rodgers said on ESPN’s Golic and Wingo in February 2018. “I thought that was an interesting change really without consulting me. There’s a close connection between quarterback and quarterback coach, and that was an interesting decision.”
Three of Rodgers eight Pro Bowl seasons and one of his two All-Pro seasons came while he was coached by Van Pelt. He also led the league in touchdown passes for the only time in his career while Van Pelt was coaching him, as he had 40 in 2016.
In addition to his past success coaching quarterbacks, Van Pelt also served as an offensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills in 2009. However, his term was brief, as he failed to improve a Bills offense that had ranked in the bottom third of the league in total offense since the 2003 season.
In Cleveland, Van Pelt will inherit an offense with talent and potential. His most notable piece is Browns running back Nick Chubb, who ranked second in the NFL in rushing yards in 2019, with 1,494 yards and on 298 carries. However, Van Pelt will also have to straighten out an underachieving passing offense that ranked 22nd in the league despite the presence of star receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry and quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Van Pelt played at Pitt from 1989 to 1992 and broke records previously held by Dan Marino for single-season passing yards and career passing yards. He amassed 2,881 yards in his freshman year, besting Marino's junior-season total by five yards, and then beat his own record, with 3,163 in his senior year. That total still ranks third in Pitt's history, and Van Pelt still holds the record for career passing yards at Pitt, with a total of 11,267.