Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski prepares to move to Cleveland
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Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski prepares to move to Cleveland

By Tommy Fradenburg

Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local | See @tommyfradenburg

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…a new head coach is preparing turn around the Cleveland Browns.

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Kevin Stefanski is the eighth head coach for the Browns since the 2009-10 season; but he’s facing a unique challenge. Normally, he’d be surrounded by coaches and trainers and young prospects as rookie minicamp drew to a close; and he’d be learning about his team hands on.

Instead, he’s spent his time so far as the Cleveland skipper at his family home in Minnesota; sheltering from the COVID-19 outbreak.

But he and his family finally hit the road this week; making the 11 hour drive to Ohio.

“We did an 11-hour drive on Friday and powered through that,” he told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt on Monday.

“I was proud of myself. It was interesting. The license plate game is hard right now because there’s not a lot of cars on the road. But the kids were pretty good. Thank God for the iPads, and now happy to be in Cleveland.”

While the start to his tenure has been less than standard, Stefanski made sure to credit the Browns’ IT department on helping them make the best of things.

“I think every one of our fans, their work setup is very similar to my work setup right now,” Stefanski said.

“A lot of Zoom calls, Microsoft Teams and FaceTime calls. You just have to make it work. I do not look at it from any other perspective than that. I think all 32 teams are at the same disadvantage, and that is the truth. Everyone is dealing with it.”

Coaching Background

Stefanski joins the Browns after a successful 14-year stint with the Minnesota Vikings, serving in different capacities for three consecutive head coaches.

After serving as the Vikings quarterbacks coach in 2017-18; Minnesota made him its interim offensive coordinator in 2018. After immediately improving the offense in his interim capacity, the organization gave him the OC job in full for 2019.

Behind Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and the wide receiver pairing of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen; Stefanski’s offense scored the eighth most points per game in the NFL.

Two days after losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs, the Browns inked the former UPenn player to a five-year contract.

What He Inherits

The former Vikings assistant coach is making his professional head coaching debut; taking over a team that finished a disappointing 6-10 in 2019.

After bringing in Freddie Kitchens to lead franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield and explosive wide receiver duo Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry; the team fell apart in traditional Cleveland fashion.

Mayfield regressed from his exciting rookie season; completing fewer than 60 percent of his passes while throwing 22 touchdowns with 21 interceptions; while OBJ played his first complete season since 2016; but still saw his touchdown totals decline from his injury shortened 2018.

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He also inherits a defense that allowed the 11th most yards and 13th most points per game in the NFL last year.

While he is renowned for his offensive prowess, turning around the Cleveland defense could become the determining factor to Stefanski’s success or failure in Ohio.

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