The Cleveland Browns have finally made their decision. The team ended its coaching search Sunday, reportedly hiring Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski to be the Browns’ next head coach, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Stefanski, 37, was a runner-up for the Browns job last year. Stefanski reportedly had the support of Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta at the time, but former general manager John Dorsey instead hired Freddie Kitchens. The Browns went 6-10 in 2019, and Kitchens was fired after just one season.
Stefanski comes to the Browns after a successful season as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator. The Vikings ranked 10th in overall offense in 2019, according to Football Outsiders. Kirk Cousins threw for 26 touchdowns and just six interceptions in the regular season. Running back Dalvin Cook had a breakout season, rushing for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Despite all that success — and a stunning win over the New Orleans Saints in the wild-card game — the Vikings’ offense turned in an awful performance against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday. The Vikings scored just 10 points in a 27-10 loss. The Browns did not overreact to that performance, and decided to go with Stefanski anyway.
It’s believed Stefanski beat out New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh for the job.
3. On #Patriots' McDaniels - as I said before - he wanted a specific structure with the #Browns and it wasn't going to be the right fit. I will repeat what I said before: Josh wasn't going to an org where DePodesta or anyone else was a "side jury" reporting to Haslam on his job.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) January 12, 2020
4. The #Browns process identified several good fits. The #49ers' Robert Saleh & #Bills' Daboll both had very good interviews and I think they were finalists with Stefanski. But I believe Stefanski had a clear leg up after being the No. 1 choice of DePodesta/Berry last year.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) January 12, 2020
With the Browns, Stefanski should have a lot to work with on offense. Nick Chubb emerged as one of the best running backs in the league in 2019, and Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry have played at high levels over their careers.
While Kitchens had the same pieces to work with, things didn’t come together for him in 2019. On top of the team’s poor record, Browns players were at odds with Kitchens throughout the year. Both Beckham and Landry got into it with Kitchens during games.
Stefanski will be tasked with smoothing over those relationships to ensure the Browns don’t have to trade away either player. Stefanski’s biggest task, however, will be getting quarterback Baker Mayfield back on track. After a promising rookie season, Mayfield took a major step back in 2019, throwing 22 touchdowns against 21 interceptions.
With Stefanski on board, the team will now turn its attention to hiring a new general manager. The Browns will talk to Philadelphia Eagles vice president Andrew Berry for that job, Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported.
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