Browns Urged to Consider Replacement For Kevin Stefanski

Kevin Stefanski, Browns

Getty Head coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns looks on during a game against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field on November 20, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns spent a boat load of money upgrading the roster this offseason. Thus far, all it’s bought them is a 3-7 record and a storm of media scrutiny and public criticism around a quarterback in Deshaun Watson who has yet to take a snap.

Fair or not, much of the blame for the direction the franchise has chosen and the subsequent results must fall on the shoulders of head coach Kevin Stefanski.

Speculation about Stefanski’s future in Cleveland has grown louder in recent weeks following a 1-6 stretch over the team’s last seven games, which included blowout losses at the hands of the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. Most recently, David Kenyon of Bleacher Report on Friday, November 25, suggested that Stefanski is “on the radar” as a head man who could soon be replaced.

Given that Deshaun Watson hasn’t yet played, moving on from Stefanski — the coach who ended an 18-year playoff drought with Baker Mayfield — would be unfair, despite the 3-7 record.

Right or wrong, Cleveland mortgaged its near future on Watson. Stefanski has earned a chance to build this reshaped offense, and six games in 2022 is a small sample. But if the Browns’ last six games go poorly, a frustrating year might result in Cleveland giving someone else a shot.

Browns Fans Demand Stefanski Make Changes to Staff

Deshaun Watson

Getty ImagesCleveland Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson (left) stands on the field with head coach Kevin Stefanski (right).

It isn’t just Stefanski under the microscope in Cleveland, but some of his primary assistants as well.

Browns fans have been calling boisterously for the release of defensive coordinator Joe Woods since early October, after the defense crumbled late in Week 3 against the New York Jets and surrendered nearly 240 rushing yards to the Los Angeles Chargers three weeks later.

“Each year is a different challenge and I promise everybody, we’re trying to do everything we can,” Woods told reporters on October 13. “Right now, it’s not going well in terms of the consistency … but I don’t worry about it.”

“I’ve been around, in my coaching career, just different people that maybe they listened to [the criticism] more, and I’ve seen what it’s done to them,” he continued. “I just believe in what I’m doing.”

Since Woods made those comments, the Browns defense has surrendered 144 points across five games, an average just shy of 29 points per game. Cleveland is 1-4 over that stretch.

Browns Face Must-Win Game Against Buccaneers Sunday

Kevin Stefanski, Browns

GettyHead coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns looks on during warmups before a game against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

Stefanski has remained stubborn and evasive on making any changes to his staff, particularly when it comes to Woods.

Media members pressed the coach on his plans in that regard Monday, which Stefanski dodged yet again.

“My focus is on us getting better,” Stefanski said. “My focus is on us getting a win vs. Tampa, playing good offense, playing good defense, playing good special teams. That’s where my focus is.”

It is fair to imagine that is where his focus has been all year, but that focus has either been poor or has simply ceased to matter where end-game results are concerned.

Cleveland is more than a long-shot to make the playoffs in a competitive AFC this season, but a path theoretically still exists. And in fairness to Stefanski, it both begins, and could end, with Sunday’s home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

If the Browns can pull out a win, the team will welcome Watson back into the fold in time to take on his old team, the Houston Texans, on December 4 in Texas. Back-to-back victories would put Cleveland at 5-7 with games against AFC North Division rivals the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens coming up. Four wins in a row would elevate the Browns back to .500.

The odds of such a run are wildly long, though the money the Browns spent on their roster was supposedly going to make the team competitive for the division title. With Watson back, the preseason picture the franchise envisioned will finally be complete.

Stefanski probably won’t get the ax at, or before, the end of the year if he fails to lead Cleveland to the playoffs. The conversation changes, however, if the Browns are unable find a way to be competitive down the stretch and at least display the potential to deliver on last offseason’s promise of a contending roster.

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