Browns Hire Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski as Head Coach
The Cleveland Browns have hired Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as their next head coach, leaving Minnesota to once again search for a new face at the position.
Rumors had been swirling for a while about Stefanski landing a head coach job this offseason, but it seemed those odds had decreased as teams like the Panthers and Giants acted quickly to fill their vacancies. The only team still needing to hire a head coach was the Browns, where Stefanski was one of roughly six candidates being seriously considered, according to reports.
He interviewed on Thursday in the Twin Cities, and despite a less-than-stellar showing from the Vikings offense in Saturday's playoff loss, Stefanski was hired three days later, beating out people like Josh McDaniels, Robert Saleh, Greg Roman, and more.
Even with the offense looking anemic against the 49ers (and a couple other times this season), the appeal of Stefanski as a head coach is obvious. He called plays for a Vikings team that experienced an offensive resurgence this season, as they focused heavily on running the ball and generating explosive plays from play-action. The Vikings were excellent at disguising plays and using misdirection to surprise opposing defenses, and Stefanski showed some impressive creativity at times throughout the year.
His early-game offensive scripts were also regularly quite effective. Overall, Stefanski's hire as the full-time offensive coordinator this past offseason was a big reason why the Vikings made the playoffs this season.
He also demonstrates many of other the qualities teams look for in a head coach. Stefanski, who had been with the Vikings since 2006, showed an admirable lack of ego by embracing a collaborative environment with Gary Kubiak, who was brought in to help implement his offensive scheme. And he is a personable, mild-mannered coach who seemed to be liked by all of his players and fellow coaches.
Stefanski faces an unenviable task in Cleveland, as he becomes their 12th head coach of the past 20 years. Three of the last five Browns coaches lasted a single season, and no coach has held the role for more than three years since Romeo Crennel from 2005 through 2008. The Browns have not had a winning season since 2007.
However, there is talent on the offensive side of the ball that Stefanski will attempt to unlock and elevate. Quarterback Baker Mayfield, wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., and running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt form an explosive group of skill-position weapons.
The Vikings, meanwhile, must now search for their fifth offensive coordinator in five seasons. Norv Turner held the role for the first two-plus years of Mike Zimmer's tenure, but unexpectedly resigned in November 2016. He was replaced by Pat Shurmur, who was then hired in the full-time role for 2017. When Shurmur left to take the head coach job with the Giants, John DeFilippo was brought in as his replacement. DeFilippo didn't last the whole season, as he was fired in December 2018. Stefanski replaced him, and won the job this offseason.
Two candidates jump out as potential hires for the Vikings that wouldn't force them to completely revamp their offense. Quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak might be the favorite; he could easily assume Stefanski's role of running his dad Gary's offense. A reunion with Shurmur is also a possibility. As of now, it would be surprising if the hire was someone other than those two.
UPDATE: Pat Shurmur is reportedly being hired by the Broncos as their new offensive coordinator. It seems like Klint Kubiak is the clear favorite for the Vikings now.