As the Cleveland Browns head into the 2023 season full of hope, there’s one dynamic that has to work, the relationship between head coach Kevin Stefanski and starting quarterback Deshaun Watson. Stefanski has proven he can mold a player into his system; however, he’s never coached a player with the skillset of Watson. Watson is far superior in talent to any quarterback the Browns have had since 1999. He’s mobile (5.4 yards per carry with 18 touchdowns for his career) and accurate in the passing game, as evidenced by his completion rate in 2020, 70.2% (a personal best) and by a career completion rate of 67.0%.
The reports from last month’s minicamp were extremely positive statically. But these results were basically against no defense. According to reports from Terry Pluto at https://www.cleveland.com/, “It’s early, but I hear the relationship between Watson and the coaching staff ‘is an incredibly healthy dynamic.’” Pluto also reports, ” Watson, Stefanski and Van Pelt have been exchanging ideas, texting plays to each other away from the facility. Watson has been looking at videos from other NFL and college teams, looking for plays he likes – much like the coaches do for him.”
In my opinion, this shows growth in the coaching style of Stefanski. He’s shaping an offensive to fit his most important player. In prior years, Stefanski has shown he can adjust his offense when he needs it to be adjusted. In 2020, (his rookie year) Stefanski started the season with an unimpressive 38-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The next game, four days later against the Bengals, the offense looked entirely different. In that short period of time, he installed more rollouts and play action to highlight quarterback Baker Mayfield’s strengths. The Browns beat the Bengals 35-30.
It appears the coaching staff and Watson are collaborating to design an offense best suited for his talents. This shows Kevin Stefanski is maturing as a head coach. Designing an offense best suited for your best player. According to Pluto, Watson is showing growth as well. ” A major difference from a year ago is Watson’s ability to “self-coach.” He recognizes when he makes a mistake and often mentions it and corrects it before the coaches have a chance to say anything.” A healthy relationship between the Browns coaching staff and their franchise player is the key to a successful 2023 season. Watson and Stefanski have to be on the same page for it to work.