Kevin Stefanski changed Cleveland Browns culture, job isn’t finished

The Cleveland Browns head coach is just getting started

In January, when Kevin Stefanski met with the media for the first time as the Cleveland Browns head coach, he promised his children a trip to Disney World and a dog.

Stefanski’s promises were a nod to how difficult it was for a 37-year-old with young children to uproot his family from the place he worked for over a decade. Little did he know, he was just months away from a global pandemic.

Then, he quoted Harry Truman.

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit.”

Stefanski, like so many predecessors before him, won his introductory press conference. But then, he won football games too.

Twelve games into the season, with the Browns sitting at 9-3 for the first time since 1994, Stefanski could spend a portion of his week writing his Coach of the Year award acceptance speech. But he won’t.

On Sunday, Stefanski’s Browns eliminated any doubt that existed about the team’s legitimacy. Sure, the 41-35 final that illuminated the scoreboard at Nissan Stadium wasn’t exactly a comfortable win, but a masterful first half was enough to beat a playoff-caliber Titans team on the road.

In a year without OTAs, a condensed training camp, and no preseason games, Stefanski is finally beginning to bring out the best in Baker Mayfield, who became the first quarterback to throw four touchdowns in a first half for the Browns since Otto Graham in 1951. With four games remaining, Mayfield is one touchdown away from his 22 last season and he has thrown 14 fewer interceptions.

It’s only the NFL’s 13th week, and Rex Ryan said the Browns could win the Super Bowl if Mayfield continues to play this well.

While that might be a somewhat distant reality for the Browns in 2020, it’s amazing that Stefanski was able to oust the lingering stench left behind from Freddie Kitchens and Hue Jackson. To put his success in perspective, the Browns lost to Devlin “Duck” Hodges and the decimated Steelers in Week 13 last season.

Stefanski also identified the true identity of the Browns offensively. Running the football. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have been the best duo in football, and Stefanski is to credit. Also, hiring Bill Callahan to coach the offensive line has payed dividends for balancing this offense and was worth every penny.

Despite the unprecedented success, it seems as if Stefanski’s group is still poised for more. Currently, the Browns are passing around a video clip of the late Kobe Bryant repeating “the job is not finished.”

The job of cracking the playoffs and making a run at the Super Bowl is far from finished in Cleveland, both for the team and for Stefanski. That will come.

Stefanski has changed the culture. That job is finished.