Coaching Candidate: Kevin Stefanski

The Cleveland Browns are in the beginning stages of another search for a head coach, but it feels different this time with GM John Dorsey leading the way. He’s looking far and wide for candidates with several interviews already scheduled. The list includes many qualified coaches including former head coaches, offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators and even special teams coordinators. One candidate in particular I want to look at its Kevin Stefanski, who had an interview on Monday, but it was moved up to Thursday January 3.

Kevin is a 37-year-old who has been involved with the NFL for 14 years. He got his first opportunity in 2005 when he landed an operations internship with the Philadelphia Eagles. Later that year, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, as the assistant director of football operations. Stefanski got his first NFL job in 2006 with the Minnesota Vikings thanks to first-year head coach Brad Childress who he met in Philly. For those who don’t know, Brad Childress is one of the branches from the Andy Reid coaching tree still, so the young man had a pretty knowledgeable mentor for the three years spent as assistant to the head coach. Minnesota improved their record in each of those three seasons starting at 6-10 to finishing 10-6 and winning the NFC North crown.

In 2009, Stefanski took on a more hands-on role when he was announced assistant quarterback coach. The offensive staff was responsible for bringing Brett Favre, who didn’t report to the team until mid-august, up to speed. The Vikings finished one of their best offensive seasons with a 12-4 record, back-to-back division titles and a playoff run that ended in an overtime defeat to the eventual Super Bowl champion, New Orleans Saints.

Stefanski remained assistant quarterback coach until 2014 when Mike Zimmer was hired as the head coach and gave him control of the tight end unit. He oversaw Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison and Chase Ford who all caught at least one touchdown pass that season. The trio average than impressive 10.6 yards per reception. The success continued the following year as Rudolph finished with a career-high 495 yards and a team-high five touchdowns.

In 2016, he became the running backs coach and his unit was pretty productive despite Adrian Peterson missing 13 games and dealing with offensive line injuries. Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata produced 941 yards and eight touchdowns.

Stefanski continued to rise within the ranks with a promotion to coach the quarterbacks. With his tutoring, Sam Bradford looked amazing before his injury and Case Keenum picked up right where he left off. Keenum produced his best year as a pro going 11-3 as a starter and finishing with 22 touchdowns to seven interceptions. The Vikings won the NFC North and advanced to the NFC Championship where they lost to the Eagles.

The Vikings had a disappointing 2018 campaign after breaking the bank to sign Kirk Cousins. The offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo, was fired after a Week 14 loss and Kevin Stefanski was named his successor. The Vikings went 2-1 with him as the play caller to finish out the season and his contract.

Now he is on the Browns’ radar and is planning to interview for the head coaching job, but is he the right guy? Gregg Williams and Jim Caldwell have already been interviewed and there are plenty more men on the list so why a long time assistant or positional coach? I don’t have that answer, but I trust John Dorsey and he will search through thick and thin to find the right person for this job.

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