After an exhaustive search, the Cleveland Browns have found their next head coach: Kevin Stefanski. Ian Rapoport broke the news just after noon on Sunday that Cleveland plans on hiring the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, an organization he has been with in various roles since 2006.
If you haven’t noticed, I have been rather quiet on much of the Browns’ head coaching and general manager search this offseason. After years of covering so many different searches, I mentally just needed to take a more laid back approach and stop stressing about the madness of it all. In the end, what we’ve seen is that Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta is getting the organization back on track with more of an aligned organizational structure, as opposed to the fragmented one that had been in place under Hue Jackson, Freddie Kitchens, and John Dorsey.
In 2016, Paul DePodesta wrote Jimmy Haslam a Hail Mary email arguing against Hue Jackson and in favor of Sean McDermott. In 2019, DePo wanted Kevin Stefanski but John Dorsey “flexed my muscles and got what I wanted,” with Kitchens. Today, DePodesta finally gets his guy. Godspeed.— Seth Wickersham (@SethWickersham) January 12, 2020
Back in October 2019, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com was spot on when it came to his list of rumored head coaching candidates. Here is what he said about what made Stefanski an attractive candidate:
He was impressive enough to get a second interview for the Browns job in January after just a three-game interim stint as Minnesota’s play-caller. Promoted in January, Stefanski suggested the hiring of Gary Kubiak to help install the Shanahan brand of West Coast offense that has been clicking of late. Still just 37, Stefanski gained popularity among players while coaching several positions over 14 years with the Vikings, starting as an assistant to then-coach Brad Childress, who told me last year: “The best thing about [Stefanski] is he can keep a cool head when everybody else is losing theirs.”
What Happened With the Other Candidates
According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer, as of yesterday, the top two candidates for the Browns were Stefanski and Robert Saleh, defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers. By virtue of the Vikings being eliminated, that allowed the Browns to hire Stefanski immediately as opposed to waiting one or more weeks.
It sounds like Stefanski was the guy the Browns wanted, but a strong interview by Saleh had compelled the group to take their time and consider him. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels did “very well,” per Albert Breer of the NFL Network, but “wanted sweeping organizational change.”
Two notes on the Browns' search.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 12, 2020
• 49ers DC Robert Saleh made a very real impression on the group. I'm told he made the call harder on the Cleveland brass.
• Patriots OC Josh McDaniels did very well. My sense: the "problem" was he wanted sweeping organizational change.
The other candidates that Cleveland considered were Brian Daboll (Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator), Greg Roman (Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator), Jim Schwartz (Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator), Mike McCarthy (hired by the Dallas Cowboys), and Eric Bieniemy (Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator).
Other Coaching Nuggets & GM News
- As Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network points out, the hiring of Stefanski makes it a strong possibility that special teams coach Mike Priefer sticks around in Cleveland, considering how long the two were colleagues together in Minnesota.
- Albert Breer of the NFL Network also wonders what this could mean for Gary Kubiak, an influential figure with the Vikings’ offensive system last year. Do the Vikings promote him, or does Stefanski lure him to Cleveland?
Interesting figure now post-Browns hire: Gary Kubiak. The Vikings assistant HC worked in lockstep with Kevin Stefanski in building the offense. Does Mike Zimmer try to make him OC? Does Stefanski try to bring him to Cleveland? Does he want either of those results?— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 12, 2020
- Jeremy Fowler of ESPN says that Browns offensive coordinator Todd Monken will not be staying on board:
Browns OC Todd Monken is not expected to stay on staff with new coach Kevin Stefanski, per source. Monken is being considered for several college playcalling jobs.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 12, 2020
- As far as general manager candidates go, it sounds like it’ll be a two-man race right now between Andrew Berry (Philadelphia Eagles, and formerly of the Browns), and Indianapolis Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds. Berry was one of the people, along with DePodesta, who wanted Stefanski for the Cleveland job last year.
Stay tuned, we will be updating this post shortly with more.
What do you think of the Browns hiring Kevin Stefanski as their next head coach?
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I love it!
Meh, we’ll see.
I hate this freaking team sometimes.