Cleveland Browns: Who will call plays in Stefanski’s absence?

Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Who will call plays for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday?

This season has been full of highs and lows for the Cleveland Browns, and nothing exemplifies that more than the roller coaster of emotions that have taken place between Sunday through Tuesday.

First was the way the team held off the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 24-22 victory to end the longest playoff drought in NFL history. While fans were celebrating this, they started to be worried about the fact that Cleveland struggled with the backups on the Steelers.

Then, as we started to realize the Browns might not have shown all their cards in Week 17, another bomb hit. It was announced on Tuesday that the team’s facility was once again closed due to COVID-19 tests, which included the loss of head coach Kevin Stefanski, left guard Joel Bitonio, and wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge.

With the team losing their head coach, they will turn to special teams coordinator Mike Priefer as the acting head coach for their first playoff game since 2003. While this answers one question, the other concern is who will be calling plays.

Stefanski has handled this role in addition to serving as the head coach and he’s done a fantastic job in this regard. Losing his ability to call plays is a major loss, but the team will be in good hands with Alex Van Pelt, the offensive coordinator, calling the plays according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Van Pelt might not have been calling plays this season but he did so in training camp as the head coach tried to make sure he had a feel for doing so, should the need ever arise.

Getting his first shot to call plays on the biggest stage of the season is quite the introduction but the good news is that Stefanski plans to participate in video conferences all week in preparation for the game. Van Pelt is also well-respected for his work with quarterbacks in his career and has been fantastic with Baker Mayfield.

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Stefanski has constantly preached being prepared and not making excuses. This is the game that will test those mantras more than any other.