If the Pittsburgh Steelers were looking to bring in a former offensive coordinator to be quarterbacks coach under new OC Arthur Smith, one with a bunch of Pittsburgh ties and familiarity in the AFC North just went off the market.
Alex Van Pelt, the former Pitt and Steelers quarterback that was most recently the offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns, was hired by the New England Patriots on Thursday to be their new offensive coordinator under head coach Jerod Mayo.
It was a bit of surprise when Van Pelt was fired as the Browns’ OC, especially considering his body of work there and the fact that head coach Kevin Stefanski was calling the plays, anyway.
Van Pelt took the job in 2020 with Cleveland, and had just one season of a healthy Baker Mayfield at quarterback. Then came the 2021 season, when Mayfield played through injury, and the acquisition of Deshaun Watson, who was suspended for the first 11 games of the 2022 season.
This year, Watson suffered a season-ending injury, and the Browns started rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson and journeyman P.J. Walker before eventually settling on 38-year-old Joe Flacco, who led Cleveland to the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Cleveland also spent most of 2023 without star running back Nick Chubb and both of their starting tackles. The Browns replaced Van Pelt with fired ex-Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey.
In New England, Van Pelt will replace Bill O’Brien, who chose to return to the college ranks at Ohio State after head coach Bill Belichick was fired.
The Steelers still have 2023 quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan under contract. It’s unclear if they will retain members of their previous offensive staff under new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, or if they will start over with a new staff. Sullivan had been interviewing for offensive coordinator positions.