CLEVELAND, OH — According to Ian Rappaport of NFL Network, the Cleveland Browns are set to hire former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski.
Stefanski, who was a finalist for the job last year, before losing out to now former head coach Freddie Kitchens, is the 18th full-time head coach in franchise history, and the fifth under the Halsam’s since taking over in 2012. Favored by Browns Chief Strategy officer Paul DePodesta before being overruled by former Browns GM John Dorsey, the hiring of Stefanski shows the increased power and influence that the former Dodgers front office man has in Cleveland, and the Browns shift towards a more analytics-driven approach.
Even though Stefanski’s offense flopped and look inept roughly 2,000 miles away in a 27-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, which was held to seven first downs, 147 total yards and 21 rushing yards, the Browns hiring of Stefanski over the likes of Canton native and John Carroll alum, Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots and highly-regarded Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh speaks volumes as Stefanski is highly regarded in NFL circles as a leader of men, intelligence and a creative-minded offensive schemer from the Andy Reid coaching tree.
In Minnesota, Stefanski handled the likes of Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and premier wide receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, in Cleveland Stefanski will have to handle an out-spoken QB in Baker Mayfield, RB’s Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and mercurial wideouts in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
Stefanski, 37, led a Vikings offense that finished 16th overall on offense, but was sixth in rushing and eighth in points scored. A Penn graduate, Stefanski will mesh very well with Harvard-educated DePodesta. Regarded as someone who is very sharp, Stefanski was an assistant in Minnesota for 14 seasons before being promoted to offensive coordinator–who alongside assistant head coach Gary Kubiak–helped mold him and the Vikings into one of the most balanced offenses in the league.