After finishing second a year ago when interviewing for the Cleveland Browns head coaching job, Kevin Stefanski went from bridesmaid to bride on Monday. The team formally introduced the former Minnesota Vikings’ offensive coordinator as their 18th head coach in a press conference on Tuesday.
This was the second time Stefanski was in the running to be the head coach. He, along with Freddie Kitchens, interviewed to replace fired coach Hue Jackson for the 2019 season. Kitchens got the job, and Stefanski finished second. One year later, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam picked him to run his football team, and replace Kitchens, who was let go at the end of the season.
“We are thrilled to welcome Kevin as the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” Haslam said. “We’re highly confident he’ll be our coach for a long time”
Stefanski said he believed being in Minnesota made coaching a team a real possibility.
“I’m beyond honored to be here as head coach of the Browns,” Stefanski said. “We have great people. I know we’re going to add to it, add to the culture we’re building here. We have the right people. I can’t express how excited I am to be a part of it.”
Browns Executive Gets his Man
Cleveland was the final team to hire a head coach for 2020, and the team’s search committee, which included Haslam and chief strategist Paul DePodesta, among others, was determined to get it right.
DePodesta wanted Stefanski a year ago, but was overruled by then general manager, John Dorsey, who was keen on Kitchens. After the Browns went 6-10, when oddsmakers had them winning nine or more games, Kitchens was fired. Dorsey soon followed his coaching choice out the door.
The Browns took their time looking for their next coach, hoping to avoid making the same mistakes that have caused them to burn through six coaches in just eight years. Of those six, Jackson lasted the longest, staying with the team for 2.5 years.
Stefanski Beats Out Robert Saleh, Josh McDaniels
In the end, it came down to a three-man race to see who would lead the Browns for the 2020 season.
New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was believed to be the front runner. BetOnline had his odds at 2/1. San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was considered a long shot at 7/1, but his interview impressed the search committee. He apparently finished second to Stefanski, who was 3/1.
Now that they have a head coach, the team will look for a new general manager. Stefanski isn’t concerned with who his boss will be. He’s more focused on getting Cleveland into the playoffs, a place that many thought the team would be last season. He also said on Tuesday that he’s excited about working with quarterback Baker Mayfield.
“He’s the quarterback, he’s the trigger man, and that’s the exciting part to me,” Stefanski said. “I’ve worked with a lot of quarterbacks, a lot of great ones over the years, and I’m looking forward to hunkering down with him and getting to work.”