The Cleveland Browns have their next head coach — and they’re hoping this one sticks around awhile.
The Browns pulled the trigger and hired Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski on Sunday, bringing a close to a coaching search that spanned two-plus weeks and saw the team interview many high-profile coordinators around the league.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, Ravens OC Greg Roman, 49ers DC Robert Saleh, and Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll also interviewed for the job. Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy was interviewed but was hired by the Cowboys.
It was the second coaching search in as many years for the Browns, who fired Freddie Kitchens after a disappointing 6-10 season that started with heaps of hype, with many pegged the Browns as a Super Bowl contender.
That ended up not being the case, as the offense struggled to integrate Odell Beckham Jr. into the offense after a blockbuster offseason move and discipline turned into a major issue, highlighted by the helmet swinging incident that was epitomized with Pro Bowl defensive end Myles Garrett being suspended indefinitely.
The Browns now have to fill their general manager position. Andrew Berry is thought to be the frontrunner, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Browns Didn’t Want to Miss on Kevin Stefanski Again
The Vikings finished 16th overall on offense this season but had one of the best rushing attacks in the league with Dalvin Cook leading the way, ranking sixth in the NFL. Stefanski will inherit an offense ready to run with Nick Chubb, who came up just short of the rushing title this season.
“He’s been around sports all the time. He’s very smart. He’s an Ivy League guy, very hard worker,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters last month. “Then as his time has grown, I’ve given him different responsibilities, whether it would be the running backs or tight ends or quarterbacks, now offensive coordinator. I think he sees the game kind of how I see it. Then he’s done a nice job of mixing the calls in.”
Stefanski is the Browns 18th full-time head coach in franchise history. Stefanski was one of the favorites to get the job last year and the pick for Browns’ Chiefs Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta. However, then-general manager John Dorsey opted for Kitchens instead. With a second chance and now in control of the coaching search, DePodesta didn’t let Stefanski get away a second time.
Browns Ownership Determined to Get Hire Right
Only time will tell if Stefanski is the man to turn the Browns around. The team hasn’t made the playoffs in 17 seasons and has had just two winning seasons since returning to the league in 1999.
The Browns finished the decade with a 42-115-1 record and were known more for their instability than anything else. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam made sure to note in his press conference that he’s well aware how turbulent recent years have been.
“I think patience and continuity are good as long as you think you have the right people in place,” Haslam said during the start of the coaching search. “We just did not feel like we had the right people in place to move forward like we would like to. Believe me, this kind of change is hard. It is not something we wanted to do. I think I started out by saying it is certainly not something we are proud of, but it is something we are determined to get right this time.”