The Cleveland Browns ended their season with a loss in Pittsburgh. Tradition says it’s time to fire the head coach. But firing Kevin Stefanski would be a huge mistake.
It’s that time of year when the Cleveland Browns continue the cycle of futility. That is, it’s firing season.
Certainly, Cleveland fans, the most traumatized fanbase in the NFL, are currently looking for a scapegoat to blame for the Browns not living up to the fans’ preconceived expectations. Sadly, defensive coordinator Joe Woods might be that scapegoat. But some are calling for Kevin Stefanski’s ouster as the head coach of the Browns.
Firing Kevin Stefanski is the wrong move for the Browns
Unfortunately, everyone has seen this before. It’s the end of the year, the Browns failed to make the playoffs and angry fans are claiming to never watch the team again. The fans want blood to be spilled. Unless blood is spilled, season tickets will not be renewed.
For the local media, this is a great time to get clicks. The annual end-of-the-year expose detailing the dysfunction in the Browns locker room came a week early. The annual blame analytics crowd has made their case that leadership is not accounted for by analytics and therefore the entire enterprise must be scrapped.
The only thing left to happen is the ritual of firing the head coach after the Browns lose to Pittsburgh. If Stefanski were fired, he would join Hue Jackson, Mike Pettine, Rob Chudzinski, Pat Shurmur, Eric Mangini, and Romeo Crennel as Browns head coaches who were fired after losing to Pittsburgh.
But such a move would be a huge mistake. Stefanski has not been the problem for the Cleveland Browns this season. This season was doomed from the start.
The NFL wanted to make an example out of quarterback Deshaun Watson. After agreeing to a modified disciplinary process that allowed for a neutral party to make the disciplinary decision, the NFL decided to exercise their right, which the players foolishly gave them, to ignore the neutral party and hand down any random punishment they felt like. Despite missing a full season, the NFL decided to give Watson an 11-game suspension that effectively ended the Browns’ season before it started.
But fans got their hopes up anyway.
And now, in spite of reports that Stefanski’s job is safe, many fans want to fire the guy whose coaching has made them respectable again. The year’s last-place finish was the first time in six seasons the Browns finished in last place.
Stefanski took a team led by a backup quarterback to a respectable season. When Watson did return to the lineup, he had not played in almost two full years. It was going to take time to get him back up to speed. But it looks like Watson was close to returning to form by the end of the year.
Yet, fans would fire a guy who coached most of the season without his starting quarterback. Fans would fire a guy who coached this team to a far better record than the talent merited. But the problem is fans see the team as far more talented than it actually is.
Based on that misconception, heads must roll.
The cycle of futility must continue. Head coaches must be fired every year. And somehow, fans believe this will solve the problem. Stefanski is the best coach this franchise has had since 1999. The Browns should extend him, not fire him.