Browns hire Kevin Stefanski

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Grade the signing

  • A+ -Awesome Analytics Alignment!

    Votes: 25 18.0%
  • A - Good choice moving forward

    Votes: 49 35.3%
  • B - Better than the other options

    Votes: 21 15.1%
  • C - Could work out I guess

    Votes: 30 21.6%
  • D - Browns done put their foot in it again, but at least he looks good on TV

    Votes: 4 2.9%
  • F - A failure on every level

    Votes: 10 7.2%

  • Total voters
    139
  • Poll closed .

Jack Brickman

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He also underestimated the Haslams.
To be fair, he had no reason not to after they backed Hue Jackson's dumb ass in the previous power struggle despite the fact that the man was clearly inept at every facet of his job outside of sharpening knives behind the scenes.

We just need to consider ourselves lucky that DePodesta won. The guy clearly knows how to build a successful sports team and he's shown he knows how to pick the right people to run it for him too.
 

Douglar

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According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, during the head coaching search that ultimately decided on Freddie Kitchens, the analytics department led by Paul DePodesta was pushing for Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. The decision was ultimately general manager John Dorsey's to make and signed off on by Jimmy and Dee Haslam, the team's ownership. The discussion that comes with this news is more interesting than the actual ramifications.

Beyond the fact that it's difficult to know how Stefanski would be doing in his first season as Browns head coach as opposed to Kitchens, it's not known who he might have hired to be on his staff. When Sashi Brown was Executive Vice President of the team, there was a substantial portion of fans and media saying the Browns needed a football guy making football decisions. That's what the Browns did, giving control to Dorsey.

Sashi never got to hire a head coach and he along with the analytics department, strongly recommended the team hire Sean McDermott. The Haslams went with Hue Jackson. It's still unknown if Stefanski will be a good coach or not, but McDermott certainly has been for the Buffalo Bills, who the Browns host Sunday.

Currently under siege at 2-6, Kitchens only gets to find out that there were more people who weren't in love with him as a choice to be the head coach, this time within the building. The reality is he probably already knew, so this doesn't really mean much.
 

NorthCoastBias

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This nugget was in Zac Jackson's latest piece in The Athletic:

Stefanski is just the sixth rookie head coach since 2009 to start 4-1 or better. He’s the first Browns coach to start 4-1 since Forrest Gregg in 1975.
 

col63onel

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I think you're onto something here.

Dorsey wanted DePodesta gone, but didn't have the authority to fire him.

The best path to making it happen would be to completely ignore everything Paul wanted to do, including hire a coach who would ignore the analytics, and have a successful season with a coach who owed his job to him.

From there, Dorsey would have all the ammo needed to have Paul removed and take ultimately seize full control over the organization.

Dorsey just underestimated how truly awful Kitchens was going to be and that sunk them both.
My guess is more simplistic.

I think Dorsey is a great scout. He has the natural talent of watching a player play and knowing if they'll be good, and can just go by his instinct. If he wanted to be a scouting director, I think he's qualified.

However, I don't think he has any sort of natural talent in organizational building, determining good coaches, managing the cap or building a team that compliments itself. But since he has such good success going with his gut on scouting, he just trusts his gut on everything.

So hire Freddie cause his gut told him too. But also trust his gut on everything, much of which flies in the face of analytics.

But also maybe the power thing, too.
 

Jack Brickman

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My guess is more simplistic.

I think Dorsey is a great scout. He has the natural talent of watching a player play and knowing if they'll be good, and can just go by his instinct. If he wanted to be a scouting director, I think he's qualified.

However, I don't think he has any sort of natural talent in organizational building, determining good coaches, managing the cap or building a team that compliments itself. But since he has such good success going with his gut on scouting, he just trusts his gut on everything.

So hire Freddie cause his gut told him too. But also trust his gut on everything, much of which flies in the face of analytics.

But also maybe the power thing, too.
Given that he did the same song and dance in Kansas City where he tried to keep accumulating power in the organization and, much like in Cleveland, it ultimately got his ass fired, I think that's just who he is. He's not content unless he's the guy making all the calls, and if he's not he'll do everything in his power to become that guy.

But I agree that he's generally a good scout, at least on the offensive end, and that he sucks at the actual organization building that being a GM requires. DePodesta seems to be the opposite. He just knows how to pick the right people to run a sports team. He identified Stefanski as a good leader and that turned out to be true, and we can probably assume he was the guy in Sashi's ear about McDermott as well, which would have been another great hire for us given his success in Buffalo, another franchise that was an NFL doormat.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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Given that he did the same song and dance in Kansas City where he tried to keep accumulating power in the organization and, much like in Cleveland, it ultimately got his ass fired, I think that's just who he is. He's not content unless he's the guy making all the calls, and if he's not he'll do everything in his power to become that guy.

But I agree that he's generally a good scout, at least on the offensive end, and that he sucks at the actual organization building that being a GM requires. DePodesta seems to be the opposite. He just knows how to pick the right people to run a sports team. He identified Stefanski as a good leader and that turned out to be true, and we can probably assume he was the guy in Sashi's ear about McDermott as well, which would have been another great hire for us given his success in Buffalo, another franchise that was an NFL doormat.
So you're saying that having the smartest guys in the room isn't a bad thing? I mean, as long as they actually are the smartest guys, and not just dumb guys who think they're smart.
 

Bob_The_Cat

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Given that he did the same song and dance in Kansas City where he tried to keep accumulating power in the organization and, much like in Cleveland, it ultimately got his ass fired, I think that's just who he is. He's not content unless he's the guy making all the calls, and if he's not he'll do everything in his power to become that guy.

But I agree that he's generally a good scout, at least on the offensive end, and that he sucks at the actual organization building that being a GM requires. DePodesta seems to be the opposite. He just knows how to pick the right people to run a sports team. He identified Stefanski as a good leader and that turned out to be true, and we can probably assume he was the guy in Sashi's ear about McDermott as well, which would have been another great hire for us given his success in Buffalo, another franchise that was an NFL doormat.
I think what you pointed out is a key issue every business and every organization faces. If you’re the one making all the decisions and you are the smartest person in the room (or at least think you are), aside from some very rare circumstances, that organization / business is likely to fail.

The role of a GM or any manager is to hire smart people, listen to their opinions, and determine the best course of action based on their smart suggestions. Given how much he liked to Talk about his ability to find players, I’m guessing he just spent way too much time scouting and neglected all his other duties as GM while also trying to obtain as much power as possible. Not a good recipe for organizational success.
 

Douglar

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Cleveland has tailored an offense to perfectly fit the skill sets of its players
There was perhaps no more disappointing team in 2019 than the Cleveland Browns. With Baker Mayfield coming off a terrific rookie season and the Browns trading for Odell Beckham Jr., people actually expected the Browns to be good for the first time in seemingly forever: Cleveland's over/under opened at 9 wins following the 2019 NFL Draft. Once the season began, it quickly became clear that the Browns had some fatal flaws.
First and foremost, the Freddie Kitchens-led coaching staff was not up to snuff. Even more crucially, the team's offensive line was just horrendous, to the point that it undermined everything the team wanted to do offensively. Mayfield was constantly under pressure, and even when he wasn't, he faded away from the defense and threw off his back foot. He regressed badly in every area, from completion percentage (down 4.4 percentage points) to yards per attempt (down 0.5 yards), while his touchdown rate plummeted (5.6 percent to 4.1 percent) and his interception rate spiked (2.9 percent to 3.9 percent).
At the end of the year, the Browns cut ties with both Kitchens and general manager John Dorsey. Cleveland hired Andrew Berry to take over the front office and Kevin Stefanski to take over coaching duties. Stefanski surrounded himself with a top-notch staff, with the most important piece being legendary offensive line coach Bill Callahan. Berry made a strong commitment to improving the personnel along that line, importing prized free agent Jack Conklin from the Titans and using the No. 10 overall pick on Jedrick Wills.
That offensive line has led the way in the Browns' offensive resurgence ...
Coming as he does from a long line of coaches who prioritize the play-action passing game, Stefanski has married these run concepts to corresponding passing plays....
the Browns run bootleg action more than almost any team in the NFL ... Mayfield is 12 of 15 for 158 yards and two touchdowns [on bootleg plays]. His 150.2 passer rating on bootleg action is second-best in the NFL behind that of only Patrick Mahomes.
Also helping in that regard is the Browns' increased usage of empty backfield sets. Spreading the field horizontally and forcing defenses to declare their coverage earlier ....
The interesting thing here is that the Browns' passing game can and should get even better.... Mayfield is actually attempting really difficult throws .. he's got the lowest expected completion percentage in the league ...
The Browns face a tough defense this coming weekend in the Pittsburgh Steelers, but despite that, according to Sharp Football Stats, they actually face the third-easiest schedule of opposing pass defenses through the rest of the year ...
 
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Bob_The_Cat

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The interesting thing here is that the Browns' passing game can and should get even better.... Mayfield is actually attempting really difficult throws .. he's got the lowest expected completion percentage in the league ...
I’m not sure if you were highlighting this as a, positive, but I don’t see it as a positive at all. Stefanski has been putting Baker in the best possible situations all season and hasn’t asked him to do a lot. Baker attempting really difficult throws and having the lowest expected completion rate means he’s making bad decisions and attempting a lot of throws he shouldn’t be, especially considering he’s 26th in the league in completion percentage at the moment.

I don’t think that Stefanski can call plays much different to change the throws being attempted. IMO that’s solely on Baker and his decision making. I certainly hope it improves, but it kind of starts and ends with Baker as this point. I’m optimistic he will improve, but I’ve also seen him do some things this year that make me question what he’ll be able to fix.
 
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adam81king

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I’m not sure if you were highlighting this as a, positive, but I don’t see it as a positive at all. Stefanski has been putting Baker in the best possible situations all season and hasn’t asked him to do a lot. Baker attempting really difficult throws and having the lowest expected completion rate means he’s making bad decisions and attempting a lot of throws he shouldn’t be, especially considering he’s 26th in the league in completion percentage at the moment.

I don’t think that Stefanski can call plays much different to change the throws being attempted. IMO that’s solely on Baker and his decision making. I certainly hope it improves, but it kind of starts and ends with Baker as this point. I’m optimistic he will improve, but I’ve also seen him do some things this year that make me question what he’ll be able to fix.
I agree. I see this as a HUGE positive for Kevin Stefanski, and his ability to plan a game, call that game, and maximize his team's assets, but I see it as a HUGE indictment of Baker Mayfield. Can Baker get better? I sure hope so. Will he ever be Drew Brees or Russell Wilson? I highly doubt it. Can we win with Baker? Probably. Will we win *because of* Baker? It doesn't seem so.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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I agree. I see this as a HUGE positive for Kevin Stefanski, and his ability to plan a game, call that game, and maximize his team's assets, but I see it as a HUGE indictment of Baker Mayfield. Can Baker get better? I sure hope so. Will he ever be Drew Brees or Russell Wilson? I highly doubt it. Can we win with Baker? Probably. Will we win *because of* Baker? It doesn't seem so.
What was being said about Josh Allen his first two years in under Sean McDermott?

If Baker is making very difficult throws, it's because of some combination of 1) he's aggressive, so he's making too many more difficult downfield throws and bypassing easier checkdowns, and/or 2) he's reading defenses slowly, and so is missing the window for easier passes and is forced to make more difficult ones.

It's probably both to some extent. The former is pretty easy to fix because it has nothing to do with talent. It's just natural aggressiveness that has to be toned down. The latter is tougher, but it is something that should improve the longer he is in this offense. How much it will improve is what we don't yet know. But he does have two essential ingredients that can't be taught -- arm strength, and accuracy. The rest...we just kind of have to give him a chance to get comfortable in this offense before it is fair to judge him.
 
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Out of the Rafters at the Q

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What was being said about Jeff Allen his first two years in under Sean McDermott?

If Baker is making very difficult throws, it's because of some combination of 1) he's aggressive, so he's making too many more difficult downfield throws and bypassing easier checkdowns, and/or 2) he's reading defenses slowly, and so is missing the window for easier passes and is forced to make more difficult ones.

It's probably both to some extent. The former is pretty easy to fix because it has nothing to do with talent. It's just natural aggressiveness that has to be toned down. The latter is tougher, but it is something that should improve the longer he is in this offense. How much it will improve is what we don't yet know. But he does have two essential ingredients that can't be taught -- arm strength, and accuracy. The rest...we just kind of have to give him a chance to get comfortable in this offense because it is fair to judge him.
I don't think that's a fair comparison at all. Allen was a raw prospect with physical gifts out the wazoo, but everyone knew he was a project. Baker is the opposite, drafted as an accurate qb and former Heisman winner with acknowledged physical limitations.

I still think Baker is working to get better and that's good. I also hope that we don't have to hear about Josh Allen as a comparison for every single struggling QB for the next chunk of our lives the same way we heard Tom Brady as the reason for why every late round pick could be successful
 
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Sebastian

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I think the Josh Allen comparison is not a good one of 2019 and then 2020 Baker in simple terms for a major reason: Josh Allen has worked his ass off to improve. He knew he had a lot of work to do and he has done it.

One only need look at the physical transformation from his rookie year to now: He was always a big guy but he is much larger and stronger than he had been. He put in the work to get stronger in a big way. He worked his mechanics. He had something to prove and it drove him.

The knock on Baker last year was that he sat on his 2018 laurels too much. One only need to look at the lack of work physically. He was getting plump and let himself go a bit. Which is emblematic of that whole season.

What has distinguished Baker through his life is the single-minded work ethic to improve. That drive was apparent in college and in his rookie year. It disappeared after that first year. One is hopeful that determination is still present because he not only has QB things to work on, but also mentally.

His happy feet belies a deep-seated memory of last year's beatings. A guy like him as confidence bordering on arrogance. Does he have the sapience to realize he has a ton of brainwork ahead of him to overcome his new instinct to flee the pocket and to learn to read defenses better? We know he knows how to work hard, the question is whether he knows enough to understand he has a lot to learn.

Or something.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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I think the Josh Allen comparison is not a good one of 2019 and then 2020 Baker in simple terms for a major reason: Josh Allen has worked his ass off to improve. He knew he had a lot of work to do and he has done it. One only need look at the physical transformation from his rookie year to now: He was always a big guy but he is much larger and stronger than he had been. He put in the work to get stronger in a big way. He worked his mechanics. He had something to prove and it drove him.
Baker did work his ass off his rookie year. Last year was a disaster of a season across the board, especially in terms of developing our younger players. Especially Baker. Freddie's casual, slacker approach infected the entire team. But this season, there isn't even a hint that Baker hasn't worked his ass off. Though the nonexistent offseason really hurt in terms of learning a new offense.

Allen was not good for two entire years under McDermott despite all that hard work. What kind of QB do you think Josh Allen would be today if he'd come here and had Hue and Freddie his first two years rather than MCDermott, and now was on his third offense with no offseason? What would everyone be saying about him?

It's hard to imagine a worst 2 first years of development than what Baker got here.

5 games and a single truncated offseason under Stefanski isn't remotely comparable to 2+ seasons under McDermott. As long as Baker's got his work ethic - and everything we've heard suggests he does - he deserves an equivalent opportunity to develop under a competent coach. This entire season would be a good start to that.

The nightmare scenario is that we finally drafted the right guy, but cut the cord too quickly and he becomes the franchise QB for a different franchise.
 
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