Kevin Stefanski doesn’t want any of his Cleveland Browns players getting too comfortable, conceding that everyone in the building — including himself — is on the “hot seat.”
It’s a motivational tactic for Stefanski, who doesn’t want his team buying into the external hype. Despite the expectations for the Browns, there’s still lots of work to be done to not repeat the mistakes of the past.
“I’m on the hot seat. We’re all on the hot seat,” Stefanski said in response to a question about defensive coordinator Joe Woods. “You’ve got to fight for everything. We’re earning it every day. That’s no different for myself, all of our players.”
Of course, Stefanski isn’t on the hot seat coming off Coach of the Year honors and leading the Browns to their first playoff win since 1994. But his points is true — the Browns will have to put in the work to reach the loft expectations that have been placed upon them.
The Browns are just behind the Ravens when it comes to odds to win the AFC North and the team is also a popular pick to win the Super Bowl, coming in at +1,600, per VegasInsider.com. The Browns have a regular-season win total of 9.5.
Kevin Stefanski Expects Big Things From Baker Mayfield
If there is a player on the “hot seat” to perform on the Browns roster, it could be quarterback Baker Mayfield, just considering the stakes. The next season will likely shape his NFL future and much of the Browns’ expectations are based on how he will perform.
There’s much more reason to believe Mayfield will succeed rather than fail. The former Heisman winner and top-overall pick is coming off his most consistent season as a pro, passing for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
“He’s throwing the ball really well,” Stefanski said on Wednesday. “Anytime for any player, when you have comfort in what you’re doing, you can cut it loose. Specifically, in Baker’s case, I think that’s true.”
Mayfield is coming off his best season as a pro, passing for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He is now getting a taste of what stability within a franchise can do, which he is embracing.
“Talking to you guys about the jump after the bye week to the second half of the year, and the more reps and the more times you are around these guys and explaining thought process, and the communication when it comes to your team is so important,” Mayfield said. “The more we are doing that, obviously as time goes on, it is going to get better for all of us.”
Joel Bitonio: Baker Mayfield is Long-Term Option for Browns
Joel Bitonio is the longest-tenured player on the Browns roster and has seen some dark times in Cleveland. He played through the 0-16 season and has seen a parade of quarterbacks start under center.
When Bitonio talks, people listen, so his endorsement of Mayfield as the long-term solution in Cleveland was a big one.
“Since he has been here, I have always thought very highly of him. He has always been a great teammate to me, and what he has shown on the football field, the positives far outweigh the negatives,” Bitonio told reporters on Wednesday. “I think you just continue to take those steps and continue to improve. This is a big year for us and a big year for him, but I know he is looking forward to it. That is kind of what he lives for and those big moments. We are getting ready to roll.”
The Browns have welcomed all 90 players for minicamp, although some are working their way back from injury. The workouts run through Thursday.