The Cleveland Browns are scheduled to hold their first on-field practice of training camp on Friday.
That will also give head coach Kevin Stefanski the first real chance to see the hand he has been dealt as he prepares the team for the September 13 season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.
Stefanski may be getting a good look at the squad, but Browns fans will have to wait until the regular season to see what type of team the Browns have as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic put an end to the slate of four preseason games.
Gary Kubiak and Mike Shanahan created the system that Matt LaFleur, Kyle Shanahan, and more coaches use today. And now the Vikings offensive coordinator is returning to show just how far it can go.@robertmays: https://t.co/mYkdqbt7Xx— The Ringer (@ringer) August 13, 2020
But fans can still get a sense of what the Browns will be doing on offense, thanks to a feature story on longtime NFL coach Gary Kubiak by The Ringer’s Robert Mays.
Kubiak was part of the coaching staff with the Denver Broncos in 1995 that took the basics of Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense and evolved it into one that blends rushing concepts with play-action passing that looks complicated to the defense but are, in Kubiak’s words, simple for the offense.
That offensive philosophy has spread throughout the NFL over the past 25 years and is currently used by Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco, Sean McVay in Los Angeles and Matt LaFleur in Green Bay.
And after spending last season picking Kubiak’s brain while they were with the Minnesota Vikings, Stefanski is bringing his version of the system - which includes his own twists on screen passes, route combinations and concepts for the red zone - to Cleveland.
And just like the Denver staff in 1995, where Kubiak and head coach Mike Shanahan paired their offense with offensive line coach Alex Gibbs’ outside-zone running game, Stefanski has built a diverse staff who can bring something valuable from their past experiences to the meeting room.
That includes tapping into offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt’s experience working with quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and passing game coordinator Chad O’Shea’s work with New England’s red-zone offense to create a cohesive system designed to maximize the talent on the Browns roster, Stefanski told The Ringer:
“That’s the fun part of getting minds together in a room … The best idea wins. When you put it all on the table and you have the empirical evidence of tape to back it up, that’s the fun part of putting schemes together. We’re putting in the 2020 Browns’ system. I don’t care what you call it, really. And I know there’s gonna be time spent trying to figure out what we are. But we’re trying to spend time making sure that we’re hyperaware of what our players do well.”
If you are still wondering why so many Browns fans are buying into Stefanski before the Browns have held even one proper practice, that last sentence is the reason why. It may sound obvious, but having a head coach who is working to put his players in a position to succeed is a breath of fresh air in Browns Town.
Browns fans may have to wait another month to see Stefanski’s system in action, but given the long-running success of Kubiak’s offense, the wait should be worth it.