Browns tell two embattled coaches their jobs are safe

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

Mike Priefer and Jeff Howard both have had their issues with the Cleveland Browns but are apparently safe for the 2023 season

While all eyes were on the Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator position to start this offseason, there was at least an interest in a couple of other coaching spots. After Joe Woods was let go, and Jim Schwartz was hired, those spots came into focus.

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer and defensive back coach Joe Howard both were expected to be on the hot seat but that’s apparently not the case. According to Mary Kay Cabot, both have been told by the front office that they’re safe in 2023.

Browns Special teams were a major problem in 2022

Priefer clearly has the trust of Kevin Stefanski but it’s hard to see why. Since he’s been on the roster, the kicking game has been a problem. They’re also undisciplined on coverage, constantly drawing flags, and have been unable to find a solid returner of their own.

Their futility was on full display in Rick Gosselin’s 2022 NFL Special Teams Ranking. On punt coverage, the Browns were the worst in the league surrendering 12.3 yards per run back — well above the league average of 8.8.

Jeff Howard’s press conference led to a heated seat

Howard came under fire this season when he tried to explain why Cleveland didn’t make the proper adjustments in a loss to the Bengals. Howard tried to explain that they never prepared to face just one premier wideout, which happened to be the case when Tee Higgins went down — and Ja’Marr Chase still had his way.

What he was trying to say makes sense. Howard was alluding to the fact that they focus on certain areas leading up to the week and there are only so many changes that could be made in-game. The wording wasn’t great, however, which led to the outrage.

Of course, no front office is going to fire a position coach because of an answer in a media session — unless it was something egregious they said. However, even throwing that out, the secondary was a problem in 2021.

Cleveland surrendered several wide-open deep passes when communication broke down, including during losses to New York and Atlanta. For that reason, it seems a bit surprising Howard would be retained.