The Browns are 22-19 under Stefanski, who led the Browns to the postseason in his first year back in 2020, garnering Coach of the Year honors. However, he’s had a tough stretch since. The Browns missed the playoffs a year ago during a drama-filled 8-9 campaign and are at risk of doing so again with a 3-5 mark after eight games — albeit he has a bit of an excuse this season due to his quarterback situation.
What was concerning early on this season was some unrest in the locker room and players yelling after a fourth consecutive loss on October 23 with leadership being mentioned in the rants.
Despite all that, executive vice president of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry has full trust in Stefanski as the skipper in Cleveland.
“Kevin has had to navigate some pretty unique circumstances and some pretty difficult circumstances during his tenure as a head coach,” Berry said on November 2. “Our belief in Kevin is just as strong as the day that we hired him. He is smart. He is a servant leader. He is creative. We know he has the ability to lead our team to wins. We feel really good. We feel like the locker room is in good hands. We know he pushes our guys. We are looking forward to playing good football in the second half.”
Berry Backs Stefanski as Offensive Play Caller
Some of the heat on Stefanski has stemmed from his offensive play calling — a duty he has taken on since landing in Cleveland in addition to his head coaching responsibilities. Berry doesn’t think that it’s something Stefanski should give up, despite some uneven performances from the unit and calls to run the ball more.
“I think that Kevin has shown that he has the ability to both manage the game and call the offense. I think he has done a nice job under a variety of circumstances as the play caller, and he is organized and bright enough where he can manage the broader aspects of the job,” Berry said. “I think he is acutely aware, as really we all are, that as the head coach it is not just about running the offense or calling the plays; it is about managing the entire team. He takes that responsibility seriously.”
The Browns are 5-10 in their last 15 games dating back to last season. Berry did acknowledge that the Browns letting some games slip away early in the season has been a rough pill to swallow but believes his squad will find consistency.
“We haven’t played consistent football in the first half, and we acknowledge that,” Berry said. “We have to improve the performance there.”
Browns Awaiting Return of Deshaun Watson
The Browns are two games below .500 but it’s hard to judge too harshly considering the team is awaiting the return of Deshaun Watson, who was suspended for 11 games following accusations of sexual misconduct by more than two dozen women.
Watson is set to return on December 4 against his former team, the Houston Texans. He’s been back in the building for a few weeks and can start practicing with the team on November 14.
“Deshaun, it has been great to have him back in the building. He has been focused on working on himself. He has stayed in great shape. He has been part of the meetings. He has done everything and more that has been asked of him. We will be excited to have him when he can continue to ramp up football activities and get back on the practice field.”