Cleveland’s great, long play-calling nightmare is over.
After being badgered for most of the week on who will hold the ever-important title of official play-caller, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski announced Friday he will be the one with the headset and play sheet.
“I think with any discussion, we talk about what’s best for the team,” Stefanski said, via 92.3 The Fan’s Keith Britton. … “And that’s where we landed.”
Stefanski was the man with the sheet in Minnesota, directing an offense that created opportunities for running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison and ultimately found enough success to earn Stefanski the head coaching job in Cleveland in early 2020.
But in Cleveland, the play-caller matters a little more. Just last year, first-time head coach Freddie Kitchens firmly held onto his duty as play-caller, even as the ship took on water with each passing week. On Kitchens’ staff from the beginning of his tenure as head coach was renowned offensive coordinator Todd Monken, whose displeasure with Cleveland’s offensive direction became apparent over time and contributed to an internal environment that was far from collaborative.
The Browns are trying to avoid a repeat performance in their meeting rooms and on the field on Sundays. Instead of local reporters asking Stefanski by Week 6 if he’ll pass the sheet to offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, the goal for Cleveland will be for such a question to not be a topic at all. If things really turn out in their favor, perhaps those questions will be more reminiscent of 2007, when folks were instead asking who was responsible for Cleveland’s offense being so productive.
The playmakers back then heaped praise on offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who ended up returning as a head coach in 2013 because of his play-calling prowess, but lasted just one season in the earliest days of the Haslam era of Browns ownership. There have been plenty of other subpar play-callers who have exited as scapegoats — Maurice Carthon, Pat Shurmur (as both head coach and play-caller), Brian Daboll and John DeFilippo, to name a few — as fans and media members alike have attempted to determine the cause of such past mediocrity.
The hope in 2020 is Stefanski doesn’t end up on that list. His journey begins Sunday with his first step in Baltimore.
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