Kevin Stefanski addressed the media on Tuesday for his first time as Cleveland Browns head coach. He cleared up some reports and discussed his coaching staff.
About one year ago today, Freddie Kitchens uttered the phrase, "If you don't wear brown and orange, you don't matter."
That phrase, along with "Whoopty Hell," was the start of enormous expectations that would be brought upon the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
On Tuesday, newly-hired Kevin Stefanski approached the podium for his first time as a head coach.
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1. "Success Starts With People"
Stefanski started off his first press conference thanking the people that have helped him along the way, including the Vikings organization and his family. Stefanski's wife, Michelle, and his three children, Will, Gabe and Juliet all sat nearby the podium for his big day. He was down to earth, and shared that it was difficult moving his family and young children to a new place. He added that his children were already promised a dog and a trip to Disney World for embracing the difficult 48 hours.
Stefanski quoted Harry Truman in stating, "it's amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." He emphasized that he wanted to be authentic and direct with the players, constantly providing them feedback and pushing to be better. The 37 year-old coach noted that in his experience, he knows that players won't asked to be pushed, but that's what they want.
Stefanski's father, Ed, is an executive in the NBA. Stefanski made sure to include a basketball reference to reflect how he will lead his people.
"I want to be the point guard for this organization," Stefanski said. "I want to bring the ball up the floor and let someone else score the bucket."
2. Take His Time Assembling A Staff
From his opening presser, expect Stefanski to be patient, thorough, and diligent in assembling his staff, including the general manager. Stefanski wants to meet with the current staff and evaluate all options for all positions.
It has been reported that the Browns are interested in Wade Phillips for a defensive coordinator role, and Gary Kubiak and his son, Klint Kubiak, for coordinator roles. When asked about these reports, Stefanski nodded his head, and continued that they were going to be diligent in making those decisions.
3. "Maximize Talent of Key Players"
It certainly did not seem as if Stefanski was in a hurry to overhaul the core pieces of the franchise. Throughout the press conference, he consistently praised quarterback Baker Mayfield.
"I think the sky's the limit," he said when discussing Mayfield.
Stefanski told the media that he will continually talk about a marriage between the run and the pass game. He consistently mentioned the longing for an "explosive" offense, and said that the talent was already in place for the Browns to develop such schemes.
During his 14 years with the Vikings, Stefanski worked with nine different starting quarterbacks. He stressed that it's important to let quarterbacks "be themselves" and he said he planned to work with his staff on making Baker Mayfield's job as easy as possible.
4. "Shared, Collected Vision."
Let's face it. The issue with the Browns under Jimmy and Dee Haslam has always been the lack of organizational structure. There's always been some sort of Tom and Jerry dynamic where people can't get along for the common goal.
While it's unclear who the offensive coordinators, assistants and position coaches will be, Stefanski stressed the importance of a shared vision.
We still don't know who will call the plays. Stefanski said he plans to meet with his future staff and determine who will call the plays. He took a small page out of Kitchens's press conference playbook, stating that the decision will be made upon whoever he believes gives the Browns the best opportunity to win.
The buzzword "alignment" has been thrown around the Browns organization recently, but Stefanski called it, "making sure everyone's on the same page." Certainly, this is something foreign to this football organization in recent years.
Stefanski has been known to be an outspoken supporter of the use of analytics in football. With chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta on hand, Stefanski continually referred to analytics as a "tool" for coaches to use to make informed decisions.
However, Stefanski denied the report that he would have to meet with the analytics department to discuss the final gameplan. The report made it seem as if Stefanski would be turning in his homework.
To that, the new head coach gave a small laugh and dismissed it, calling it untrue, and reminding fans that it's "silly season" for reports as such.
"Information is power," Stefanski said. "We like to have a lot of information to inform our decisions."