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Browns Will Make Stefanski New Head Coach

The last open head coaching spot in the NFL is set, as the Cleveland Browns will hire Minnesota offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as their new head coach. This is apparently a win for the analytics people in Cleveland's front office, as Stefanski was Paul DePodesta's choice last year but was passed over in favor of Freddie Kitchens. Stefanski is linked to either Indianapolis assistant general manager Ed Dodds or Philadelphia vice president of football operations Andrew Berry as Cleveland's next GM.

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39 comments, Last at 18 Jan 2020, 2:40pm

1 Best hiring timing since…

Best hiring timing since Patricia become HC the day after giving up 538 yards and 41 points in SB 52... hopefully the Purple's putrid performance from yesterday is not a glimpse into the Browns' future!

18 Pardieu... I presumed that…

Pardieu... I presumed that my three P's were pretty proximate to poetic perfection. But next to your prosaic prowess, I perceive that my preceding post was positively pitiful! You've prevailed! As people praise in Portuguese: parabens!

2 Whatever happened to Jay…

Whatever happened to Jay Gruden? I thought he'd be a medium-hot coaching prospect. Did he interview with any team?

10 I imagine a lot of people…

I imagine a lot of people think almost all of the credit should go to Andy Reid. Hiring offensive coordinators for historically great seasons hasn't always worked out, see Adam Gase and Josh McDaniels.

12 Exactly my thinking. It's…

Exactly my thinking. It's hard enough to seperate out the credit between a great QB and coaching, and then to try to figure out whether it was the OC who is responsible is getting pretty impossible to do. Same with all the defensive guys of Belichick and Carroll that get hired away. 

While fully admitting there is no way of knowing how they will do with many of the aspects of head coaching, I'm of the mindset there are basically two rules of thumb: (1) be very careful when hiring away the assistants of a football genius on that side of the ball; and (2) if you think a certain guy is a great OC and developer of QBs, either you make him the head coach or someone else will.

17 I'd add that the Browns…

I'd add that the Browns hired Hue Jackson when he was Cincinnati's OC and being touted as the reason for Bengals 2015 division-winning success plus he had previous HC experience.

So maybe they're a little gunshy after that mistake.

3 Stefanski took a run-first…

Stefanski took a run-first Zimmer mandate, an average OL, and slightly above average QB and turned that into a top 10 offense. Not bad. But really, how does he manage people?

5 Exactly, we've seen great…

Exactly, we've seen great coordinators who don't make great coaches. It stands to reason some great coaches wouldn't or didn't make great coordinators. In any case, he did seem to do a pretty good job this year.

25 By all accounts, Bieniemy…

By all accounts, Bieniemy does great work coaching even star players hard, but in a way that they respect.  For example:

Brad Childress remembers standing on a practice field at the 2016 Pro Bowl in Honolulu, and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was nearby, talking to another running back.

Peterson pointed out a coach who was hollering instructions at another player at the moment.

“You see that guy right there,” Childress remembers Peterson saying. “That guy right there, he’s the truth.”

That guy was Eric Bieniemy.

 Seems like it would be more important than play-calling as a HC criteria.  How many plays has Joe Judge called?  Ron Rivera?

28 " Seems like it would be…

" Seems like it would be more important than play-calling as a HC criteria. "

Yeah, I've long felt that the head coach progression is part of a weird system.  Generally head coaches are developed as coordinators.  But I think that the skills required to be a good head coach are quite different than the skills required to be a good coordinator.  It's almost like hiring accounting students to be trial lawyers: yeah, there are some similarities between the skill sets, but also a lot of differences.  


Not that I have any better ideas for where to find head coaches. 

4 Does this mean DePodesta's…

Does this mean DePodesta's now running the show there? From what I've read, Stefanski was his choice last year.

9 This is the most Browns hire…

This is the most Browns hire ever. One year ago they decide Kitchens > Stefanski. Then they fire Kitchens after just one season because he was a laughing stock and punch line. Then they hire the guy they thought was WORSE than Kitchens. That makes sense. At least they were douches to Josh McDaniels. So they have that going for them....

11 Vikings fan

From a "This is what we have, so we should run this system" perspective, I think Stefanski did a good job. I think he's a pretty good coach insofar as what he did looked like it made sense and ended up working out. I don't think we're going to miss much going from Stefanski to Klint Kubiak, though.

That being said, Bieniemy and even more so Saleh are the two guys I'd try to hire, if I owned the Browns. Those two are doing interesting things.

I guess if your biggest fear is that the next coach is going to screw up Mayfield, Stefanski's a good hire. And I don't think he's a bad one. I just think they could have done better.

15 I know nothing about…

I know nothing about Stefanski, but if the Browns like him, he's probably not any good.

Remember all those "the Browns are revolutionising rebuilding" articles from last year? They were funny.

16 I know nothing about…

I know nothing about Stefanski, but if the Browns like him, he's probably not any good.

Remember all those "the Browns are revolutionising rebuilding" articles from last year? They were funny.

19 I think Kubiak did more than…

I think Kubiak did more than Stefanski, to squeeze as much juice out the Vikings' offensive lemon, as was obtained this year, but who knows for sure?

20 The Man is Flexible

LA Times: "Stefanski “made it clear he was willing to yield to certain DePodesta standards, such as an analytics person with a head set and access to the coaching staff on game days.”

...“candidates also had to agree to turn in game plans to the owner and analytics department by Friday, and to attend an end-of-week analytics meeting to discuss their plan.”

27 Does anyone think that the…

Does anyone think that the Browns analytics staff understands that a significant contributor to a play's success hinges upon people getting lined up correctly and executing their assignments as designed (2 things that happened way too often under Freddie)? I imagine that getting those things right would be greater contributors to success than the Friday analytics meeting.

31 don't forget...

don't forget the mandatory hours (that's hours with an "s") long meetings on Monday mornings with Haslam to go over the game.

I now have more respect for Josh McDaniels.

33 ...don't forget the…

...don't forget the mandatory hours (that's hours with an "s") long meetings on Monday mornings with Haslam to go over the game.

This will go well too.

29 McD's Demands

Welp, now we know why McDaniels demanded "sweeping changes", top of the list was doubtless firing DePosta. 

Can you say "Mind Boggling micromanagement"?

30 Oh to be a fly on the wall…

Oh to be a fly on the wall the first time the stats nerd overrules the Head Coach's game plan based on statistical probabilities or what not.  No self-respecting coach should have taken the job (which brings up the hilarious prospect of DiPodesta being named HC), but it would be fantastic to see Stefanski resign abruptly Friday afternoon of week 3.

34 I'm trying to decide which…

I'm trying to decide which of these quotes is more appropriate to this situation:  Napoleon "No plan survives contact with the enemy" or Tyson "Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the mouth".

Anyway, whatever the plan is going into the game (and how do you change it much on Friday anyway after you're finished your practising for the week), how you adjust to what's working on the field seems more important than the original plan. 

On a related note, analytics is likely more useful for tactics than it is for strategy anyway.

That all said, there is value to organizational structure.  So the Browns adopting a structured approach to their coaching staff which presumably flows down to a structured approach to the rest of their game preparation may have some merit.  The devil's in the details.  Is the time the HC spends preparing for those meetings contributing to success on the field or distracting the HC from the work they need to do to have success on the field.  That can't be decided in advance, I don't think.  It will depend on how it plays out and the dynamics of the people involved.

35 I believe that it's…

I believe that it's fundamentally destructive.  The main problems with the Browns this year were in no order:

-Discipline.  Too many penalties and their best defensive player was last seen using the opposing QB's helmet as a club before being suspended indefinitely.

-Execution.  Baker spent about 1/2 a season bailing out of the pocket to the right if his first read wasn't open and receivers often didn't run their routes according to the play design.

-Leadership.  Baker decided to shave his mustache during halftime of a close game.  During the same game, 2 WRs had issues finding cleats that met NFL regulations.  Their best WR defiantly insisted on being able to wear a watch that costs 6 figures during a game. I can only imagine how ridiculous their practices were if this is the stuff that made it into the public eye.

These were the key reasons why the Browns missed the playoffs this year, not whether coaches were calling the right plays at the right time and/or against the right personnel.  A more enlightened analytics approach couldn't have fixed any of the above.

39 If DePodesta wants to do…

If DePodesta wants to do that, he damn well better know the terminology being used.

That can't be a meeting where Stefanski is explaining the Snag concept or how the Browns will run Power with a 7 Tech to the TE side.