Browns won’t kick Kevin Stefanski era off in rebuild mode

Core of team drew Stefanski to Cleveland, will remain intact

Daryl Ruiter
January 15, 2020 - 12:09 am

CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – With change always comes more change.

Nowhere has that been more evident than in Cleveland with the Browns. New coach plus a new general manager always equals a flipped over roster.

It appears the Browns plan to make 2020 the exception to the rule.

“Not one person we talked to thought this was a rebuild,” owner Jimmy Haslam said Tuesday afternoon while standing in the locker room at FirstEnergy Stadium shortly after Kevin Stefanski was introduced as the fifth head coach he has hired since January 2013.

“We have a really good core group of young players we think we can build around.”

That young core includes quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb, receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry along with defensive end Myles Garrett and cornerbacks Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward.

The roster is what helped sell Stefanski on leaving the Vikings after spending 14 years in Minnesota and moving his wife and three children to Cleveland where he assumes control of the league’s most volatile team.

“Those are some really good young football players, so that is where this job was so attractive to me because not only do we have the right people in the building, we have the right players in the building,” Stefanski said. “We will add to it, I do not dispute that, but you mentioned those guys and those are some good players at multiple positions, so it is definitely somewhere where we have a really good start on this.”

Like the previous four hires, Haslam has pledged to stand by their commitment to Stefanski. But how did they convinced him things in Cleveland are calming down.

“I think he got to know us,” Haslam said. “He sees our roster.”

Stefanaki’s most critical task: getting Mayfield back on track after the 2018 No. 1 pick took a major step back in 2019. Mayfield completed just 59.4 percent of his passes while throwing 22 touchdowns and a whopping 21 interceptions.

“I think the sky is the limit for the kid,” Stefanski said.

The Browns finished a disappointing 6-10 resulting in the firing of Freddie Kitchens after just one season and the hiring of Stefanski.

They scored 24 fewer points in 2019 than they did in 2018 despite Chubb finishing second in the NFL with 1,494 yards rushing and Beckham and Landry tallying over 1,000 yards receiving.

“We have some good players to work with,” Stefanski said. “It is nice to sit here and start to think about how we can attack a defense.”

Stefanski made no promises or predictions Tuesday, but he’s clearly excited about the offensive potential.

“We are looking to be explosive,” Stefanski said. “If that happens in our run game based on our personnel, that is terrific. If it is through the pass game, that is great too. So ultimately, what you will hear me talk about a lot is the marriage of the run and the pass game. That is very important.”

Before Stefanski can build his offense, he needs to build a staff.

The Browns also need to find a general manager to pair with him too. Both processes are underway and should be completed within the next 10-14 days.

Then the real work begins.