One day after multiple reports pegged former Minnesota Vikings offensive co-ordinator Kevin Stefanski as the new head coach of Cleveland Browns, the team made the hire official, announcing the move via press release on Monday.
Multiple media outlets reported that Stefanski’s contract will be for five years, with full contract terms still unknown.
“We are thrilled to welcome Kevin as the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” said Dee and Jimmy Haslam, per the team’s statement. “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.”
The team met with Stefanski in the Minneapolis area last week as the Vikings prepared for their NFC divisional playoff game, which they lost 27-10 to the host San Francisco 49ers on Saturday.
Cleveland, which fired Freddie Kitchens after one season and a 6-10 record, interviewed eight candidates for the job. Stefanski, 37, will be the sixth full-time head coach since the Haslams bought the team in 2012.
Stefanski also interviewed with the Browns after the 2018 season, when Cleveland opted for Kitchens.
“It’s very exciting obviously for me and my family,” Stefanski said. “We’re really looking forward to moving out here and getting situated in Cleveland and the adventure of it all. From my professional level, 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 worked in the Minnesota organisation since 2006, with this year being his first full season as an offensive coordinator. The Vikings ranked eighth in the NFL in the regular season with 25.4 points per game and 16th with 353.5 yards per game. Quarterback Kirk Cousins posted the fourth-best passer rating (107.4) among NFL starters, which marked his career high. The oft-criticised Cousins also threw a career-low six interceptions in 2019, discounting his rookie season, in which he played just three games.
In Cleveland, Stefanski inherits quarterback Baker Mayfield, who struggled in his sophomore NFL season (22 touchdowns, 21 interceptions) despite the offseason addition of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. A year earlier as a rookie, Mayfield passed for 27 scores with 14 interceptions.
Mayfield’s 21 interceptions last season ranked as the second most in the league behind only Jameis Winston’s 30.
The Browns are still searching for a new general manager after parting ways with John Dorsey on New Year’s Eve after failing to come to an agreement on a restructuring of the front office.
Philadelphia Eagles vice president of football operations Andrew Berry has agreed to an interview, which is expected to occur this week.
Vikings assistant GM George Paton has reportedly accepted an interview with the Browns, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The Browns have not made the playoffs since the 2002 season and last posted a winning record in 2007, when they went 10-6.
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