Cleveland Browns argument: Kevin Stefanski is the problem
The easy answer to Kevin Stefanski being the fall guy is that he’s the head coach. He’s responsible for this team, from the players to his assistant coaches, to overseeing all aspects of the team. To Stefanski’s credit, every week he says the problems with his team fall to him. He also repeatedly says each week, like a broken record, he has to do better.
What happened to the Stefanski everyone fell in love with from a year ago? All we heard each week, from his players and coaches, was that the team was just focused on winning the week. Where on earth has that concept gone? I recognize that this team hasn’t had the success of last season, but the message that was being delivered was working.
Just because the team is lost this year, shouldn’t mean that the coach should abandon that message. Why has Stefanski done that? It’s simply strange and just doesn’t add up. So many things this season for the second-year coach just don’t add up either.
The “I got to get better” message is really falling on deaf ears these days. There have been many issues with the team as far as communication and public image too that again have reared their ugly head. That’s not all on Stefanski and his responsibility, but it’s still surprising.
When Stefanski arrived last year, he came across as being overly organized and detailed. Even with him sitting in his own basement for the playoff game at Pittsburgh, the team was a steady ship and cruised to victory. That was a real testament to his coaching philosophy and style spilling over to the whole team.
I thought by this time, even with the various issues that have hit this team, that Stefanski would have been more logical and detailed and had this team playing at an even higher level than last year. That’s part of the baffling thing to me about the coach. I wasn’t expecting much a year ago, then he surprised everyone with that run of what seemed like rightful success. But was it just a mirage and a bit of luck?
In my research on the Browns coach, you can see a history filled with accomplishments and praise from past coaches to teammates of Stefanski. I believe he’s an excellent coach. So why such a reverse of fortune now has me thinking that the issues with his team have more to do with other factors, like the quarterback he has trying to execute those plays.
Stefanski is certainly talking a lot recently about sticking with Mayfield as the Browns starting quarterback despite the rash of injuries to his signal-caller. Obviously, Stefanski has to see the injuries of Mayfield first hand, like we all can see on Sunday. The quarterback can’t walk straight without limping. He has a harness on his left shoulder and grimaces with every step.
Why is Stefanski lying about Mayfield getting better when everyone can see that’s not really happening? It’s a bizarre answer from the coach and it’s not making his credibility any better with those outside the team.
The biggest issue for Stefanski, and why so many will blame him the most for the teams’ failures, has to be with the odd play calls he’s made all season long and the lack of discipline by his players. The fourth-down plays that the team has attempted all season long have had us all shaking our heads. The refusal by Stefanski to use the running game and the two best running backs in the league, in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt more in the offensive scheme of the game is just strange as well.
The numerous penalties called on the team, from multiple illegal formations to holding calls on the lineman, to unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are ultimately Stefanski’s responsibility. For weeks the coach has said the team would work on getting those issues fixed. I understand he can’t go out there and force his players to comply, but the fact that these mistakes are continuing to happen in Week 12 is really an example of poor communication and trust on the part of his team.
Can Stefanski steady the ship again and cruise to a better ending to the story this season or will that ship keep taking on water and sink?