Despite a dismal showing for the Vikings’ offense on Saturday, the Cleveland Browns are set to make Kevin Stefanski their next head coach.
The Cleveland Browns were waiting to hire a new head coach, perhaps to get one last look at two candidates on opposite sidelines and opposite sides of the ball on Saturday. Kevin Stefanski’s unit had a particularly bad showing, but according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network the former Vikings’ offensive coordinator will become the new head coach of the Browns.
Stefanski became interim offensive coordinator for Minnesota late in the 2018 season, and he interviewed for the Browns’ head coaching job that eventually went to Freddie Kitchens. He was given the permanent offensive coordinator post by the Vikings after that. In concert with Gary Kubiak, Stefanski helped install and orchestrate an offense that was productive for much of the season and got terrific campaigns from Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook in particular.
Stefanski will leave the only NFL team he has ever worked for. He has spent the last 14 seasons as an offensive assistant for the Vikings, coaching multiple positions and spanning three head coaches (Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier and Mike Zimmer).
In circling back to Stefanski in this head coaching search, and now hiring him, the influence of Browns’ chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta has been made clear. DePodesta apparently wanted to hire Stefanski a year ago, but was overruled. Kitchens proved to be the wrong choice, so DePodesta’s “guy” will get a shot now.
As for the Vikings, it’s safe to say every effort will be made to keep Kubiak in the fold as something of a “head coach-offense.” His son Klint, the Vikings’ quarterbacks coach this year, looks like a natural candidate to replace Stefanski as offensive coordinator.
The way the Browns cycle through head coaches and lead executives, Stefanski very easily could have said thanks but no thanks when it was made clear they wanted him to be their new head coach. But there are indeed only 32 of those jobs in the world, so it’s hard to turn one down when it’s offered.