Browns make Kevin Stefanski hire official, name him head coach

Stefanski fits mold Haslams, Paul DePodesta sought in latest search

Daryl Ruiter
January 13, 2020 - 5:56 pm
Oct 24, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski during the first quarter against the Washington Redskins at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Kevin Stefanski was officially named head coach by the Cleveland Browns Monday afternoon.

The hiring of Stefanski, who spent the previous 14 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, is the fifth made by owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam.

Stefanski, who arrived in Cleveland Monday to complete his contract, was among eight total candidates interviewed for the job over a two-week period.

“It's very exciting obviously for me and my family,” Stefanski said in a statement. “We're really looking forward to moving out here and getting situated in Cleveland and the adventure of it all.

“I just could not be more eager to get to work with this group. I think we have some really good players here. I think we have some outstanding people in this building.”

Stefanski will be introduced at a press conference Tuesday at 1 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Stefanski coached quarterbacks, tight ends and running backs during his tenure as a Vikings assistant while working under three different head coaches. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in Week 15 of the 2018 season, a position he retained in 2019.

“When I moved out there in 2006, it was never, ‘hey, I'm going to be here for the next 14 years and then I'm going to leave to be the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns.’ That was definitely not the grand plan,” Stefanski said. “My grand plan was just to show up every day and do my job to the best of my ability. That organization holds a special place in my heart. They have great ownership. There's tremendous people throughout that building starting with the GM, head coach are just really good people. To be able to have been there and grow as a person, grow as a coach is incredible.”

Cleveland’s search committee consisted primarily of owner Jimmy Haslam, executive vice president JW Johnson, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta and vice president of football administration Chris Cooper.

DePodesta was put in charge of the search by Haslam with the primary goal to align the football operations side of the organization from the analytics department through the personnel department and the coaching staff.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kevin as the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement released by the team. “We were looking for a strong leader of this football team, a very bright coach with a high football IQ, who could establish a strong understanding of what he expected of his players, hold them accountable and confidently navigate the challenges and opportunities that present themselves throughout a season. Kevin exemplifies these qualities and more.

“He has a tremendous ability to relate well and communicate well with his players, has experienced many coaching facets of a team, and understands how to put them in the best position to succeed while also establishing a winning culture. Kevin, Michelle and their family will be tremendous additions to the Cleveland community and we look forward to having him lead our football team.”

The search for a general manager to pair with DePodesta and Stefanski is underway.

Cleveland plans to interview Eagles vice president of football operations Andrew Berry this week. Berry was the Browns’ vice president of player personnel from 2016-early 2019 before he left for Philadelphia.

The Browns have also requested permission to interview Vikings assistant general manager George Paton for the job.

“I know we have to add a GM and add some more pieces to this puzzle,” Stefanski said. “I think the eager part for me is to get to work, buckle down and start to put together a program. Before you know it, the players are back in the building and we're going to be putting a system together offensively, defensively, etc. I think that's the fun part, when these guys get back in this building.”