1. Kevin Stefanski, Head Coach
I have been a staunch supporter of head coach Kevin Stefanski. Since joining the Cleveland Browns, he has a record of 28-26 which is the best of any non-interim coach since they returned to the NFL in 1999 (Gregg Williams was 5-3 in his short stint in relief of Freddie Kitchens).
Stefanski even got the team to the playoffs in 2020 and they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card Round — albeit with Stefanski at home due to COVID restrictions for the game.
Having said all of that, it's becoming more difficult to defend the head coach at this point. While he's shown he knows how to scheme players open and has a history of elevating quarterback play, he's also been guilty of several reccuring issues. One of those is the overly-complex game plans where he shies away from doing what works and looks for the splash play.
We see this with the continued reverses or the early deep shots from Dorian Thompson-Robinson in Week 4. What's most frustrating is that Stefanski seemed to have gotten on track against the Titans only to revert to his old ways against Baltimore.
Stefanski eased Deshaun Watson into the game against Tennesee with several short passes. Once the quarterback was comfortable and confident, then he opened things up. However, with the rookie fifth-round pick, the play calls resembled what he was doing with Watson by the end of the prior game — which isn't ideal for any rookie.
Having said all of that, Stefanski is likely to be without Watson again this weekend. If so, he needs to prove he can run a simple game plan rather than trying to outsmart everyone. He also has to show an ability to adjust away from what's not working, which is something else he's struggled with.
Cleveland doesn't have to beat San Francisco on Sunday but if they go out there and look like a team in a free fall, Stefanski could very well start to feel some heat under him.