Head coach Kevin Stefanski will be radio silent when the Cleveland Browns take the field for their first playoff game since 2002.
Stefanski, who tested positive for COVID-19 this week, will not be able to coach the team he led to an 11-5 record on Sunday — even electronically from afar — due to NFL rules not allowing him to communicate with the sideline.
“I know what the rules are and I’ll follow them,” Stefanski told reporters on Wednesday. “The players understand that it doesn’t really matter who the head coach is on Sunday. They know how we play.”
#Browns HC Kevin Stefanski on whether organization asked NFL to allow him to be involved on Sunday with unprecedented situation: "I don't know. I know what the rules are and I'll follow them."
— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) January 6, 2021
Despite Stefanski downplaying the issue, there’s been an outcry of people supporting the idea that the Browns skipper should
“This is [a] point of contention expressed by football people who believe an exemption to the restrictions on in-game electronic communication should be eased to allow for Stefanski to ‘do his job’ under this circumstance,” veteran ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen wrote on Twitter. “Not going to happen, though.”
This is point of contention expressed by football people who believe an exemption to the restrictions on in-game electronic communication should be eased to allow for Stefanski to “do his job” under this circumstance.
Not going to happen, though. https://t.co/Zj27xAekLM
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 6, 2021
Kevin Stefanski Confient in Browns Culture
While Stefanski won’t be on the sideline, he has shown the utmost confidence in his team and the identity they have built.
“This team is not in my image, it’s the Cleveland Browns,” he said. “We’ve established an identity. We did it back in the spring, we told the guys how we were going to play. We made sure we brought players in there that fit that mold. And I think the guys understand perfectly how we play and how we win.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) January 6, 2021
“Everybody knows what’s at stake, and they’re excited for the opportunity,” he added.
Part of Stefanski’s confidence stems from his relationship with offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, who will call the plays in his absence.
“(Van Pelt) has been a huge part of our offensive success, a huge part of play-calling,” Stefanski said. “He knows the things we believe in. How we play. … I have a ton of confidence in AVP’s ability to get the job done.”
No Additional Positive Tests For Brown
The Browns are working virtually on Wednesday, but Stefanski said that there were no additional positive tests.
“We have had a bunch of meetings already this morning. We will have some more this afternoon. We are full speed ahead,” Stefanski said. “We have an opponent that we know well, and they know us well. Just have to put a plan together, and again, go find a way to get a win.”
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) January 6, 2021
Stefanski said he’s disappointed for the players and coaches that will miss the game, especially Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio, who has been through the grinder with the Browns, including a winless season in 2017.
“I am disappointed for anybody who can’t be a part of this whether due to injury or whatever. Disappointed for Joel Bitonio obviously. All of our guys that can’t be a part of this is disappointing to me, but we have to find a way. That is what our charges, and that is what we are working on today.”
The Browns have moved to 6-point underdogs for the matchup against the Steelers, per Odds Shark.