Browns Go With Vikings OC Stefanski As Next Head Coach
Stefanski To Focus On Improving Cleveland
After one season in charge of the Cleveland Browns, Freddie Kitchens was fired from his position as head coach.
A search for the next head coach that had long been pointing towards New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has now ended with Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski landing the job.
The 37-year-old Stefanski will now set his sights on improving a Cleveland team that Kitchens was only able to lead to a 6-10 record despite a plethora of talent.
Stefanski Helped Minnesota Get Good Results This Season
This year, Stefanski was able to help Minnesota reach the divisional round of the playoffs after a 10-6 season.
Despite entering the playoffs as the sixth seed in the NFC, the Vikings were able to upset the third-seeded Saints in New Orleans in the Wild Card round.
On Saturday, Minnesota fell to San Francisco by a score of 27-10, knocking the Vikings out of the playoffs.
Through the regular season, Minnesota was a productive offensive team. By averaging 353 yards per game, the Vikings ranked 16th in the league in total offense. By scoring 25.4 points per game, the Vikings ranked eighth in the league in scoring offense.
Now, Cleveland hopes Stefanski can bring success to an offensive group that mirrors that of Minnesota.
New Team, Similar Weapons for Stefanski
While the argument can be made that Cleveland should have opted for the likes of McDaniels or San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, there’s one very good reason for the hiring of Stefanski.
With Cleveland ready to win right now, Stefanski has a proven record of success with a very similar set of offensive talent.
In Minnesota, Stefanski had two productive receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, a premier running back in Dalvin Cook, and an above-average quarterback in Kirk Cousins.
Equivalent Set Of Offensive Talent
In Cleveland, the weapons are eerily similar. Receivers Jarvis Landry (a 2019 Pro Bowl selection) and Odell Beckham Jr. (a two-time All-Pro) are joined by running back Nick Chubb, who was second in the NFL with 1,494 yards this season.
The biggest potential difference comes at the quarterback position, occupied by Baker Mayfield in Cleveland. Despite this year’s struggles, Mayfield finished second in Offensive Rookie of the Year a season ago.
If Stefanski can guide Mayfield back towards his play from a successful rookie campaign, this Browns offense will have every opportunity to look like the one Stefanski led in Minnesota.
Stefanski A Surprise, But Not A Bad Choice
Stefanski is a surprising choice for the head coaching position in Cleveland for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he didn’t take over as offensive coordinator in Minnesota until 2018. For the previous 13 years, Stefanski was an assistant with the same organization.
Compared to Stefanski, just about every other one of the eight candidates the Browns interviewed has more experience.
The above is why Stefanski wasn’t the favorite to land the Cleveland job, as McDaniels led the betting odds at +200 a week ago.
Great Opportunity Ahead
However, Stefanski was far from a longshot. After former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, who held odds of +300, took the job in Dallas, Stefanski became the second favorite for the Cleveland position with odds of +500.
So, while many casual NFL fans would have better-recognized names like Urban Meyer or Ravens’ offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Stefanski wasn’t a shocking hire within the NFL’s inner circle.
Thanks to his record with similar talent in Minnesota, Stefanski now has a great opportunity to lead this Cleveland team to a winning record for the first time since 2007.