The Cleveland Browns stockpiled some talent in free agency, which puts the pressure on head coach Kevin Stefanski to start piling up some wins.
Stefanski’s tenure in Cleveland started off red hot, leading the team to the postseason and a victory in the Wild Card round against the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, the Browns have disappointed the last two seasons, missing the playoffs and having some unsavory off-field drama.
Now is the time for Stefanski, who has some new weapons to work with, including wide receivers Elijah Moore and Marquise Goodwin, as well as tight end Jordan Akins. The Browns also parted ways with coordinators Joe Woods and Mike Priefer, bringing in a pair of well-respected veterans with Jim Schwartz on the defensive side of the ball and Bubba Ventrone on special teams.
In short, there are no more excuses for Stefanski, who was among the hot seat candidates listed by Bleacher Report.
“After winning Coach of the Year honors for leading the Browns to an 11-5 record in 2020, Stefanski has seen his team get progressively worst in each of the last two years, with eight wins in 2021 followed by seven last season,” B/R’s Gary Davenport wrote. “If that trend doesn’t reverse in Deshaun Watson’s first full season under center, Stefanski isn’t going to be back for a [fifth] season in 2024.”
Kevin Stefanski Not Giving Up Play-Calling
Stefanski has taken some extra heat because he has been the offensive play-caller for the Browns during his tenure. There have been some questionable decisions — especially on fourth down — but he doesn’t plan on giving up the duties any time soon.
“I think [calling plays] is important to me, I think it is important to do what is right for the team. I feel like that is the right thing to do for the team,” Stefanski said at the NFL Combine earlier this month.
“We are spending plenty of time trying to look at what we are doing schematically and making sure that we are turning over every rock schematically to look at different things, and then you do have to put your scout hat on in February, March and April.”
Stefanski assured that offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt has lots of input and he’ll have even more this year as he adds quarterbacks coach to his duties. He’ll work closely with Deshaun Watson as the former Pro Bowler looks to get on track.
“During games, AVP is the one sitting on that bench going over the pictures. There is a built-in relationship there,” Stefanski said. “There is respect there. AVP is a coach who can push this player, along with myself and the rest of our staff, but I just think there is a built-in relationship there.”
Andrew Berry Feels ‘Urgency’ Every Year
The Browns have a lot at stake next season with a full year of Watson and some key players like Nick Chubb and Myles Garrett in the midst of their prime.
“You feel urgency every year to be honest. I think we all feel like we have an incredible responsibility to the organization and to the city to put a good team out on the field,” Browns GM Andrew Berry said at the combine. “I think that probably if you don’t feel urgency and honestly you don’t feel excitement to be honest, that is probably the biggest one is if you don’t feel excitement, you are in the wrong role.”
The Browns’ win total for next season is set a 9.5, per DraftKings Sportsbook. In a highly-competitive AFC North, they’ll likely have to get over that number to secure their spot in the postseason.