Kevin Stefanski broke a playoff drought and delivered a playoff victory to a success-starved Cleveland Browns fanbase.
And he did it with a quarterback who might have started his last NFL game last week.
This year, he has a career journeyman passer playing to the tune of a top-10 QBR in the league’s 4th-best overall offense.
Kevin Stefanski’s system is about to produce two top 10 rated QB’s in three seasons. One that’s a career backup, and another who currently is the worst rated QB in the league.
These are facts. He needs to evolve as a HC but the system he has produces.
— Joe B (@JoeB_inCLE) November 22, 2022
But the NFL is a “What-have-you-done-for-me-lately” league, and “getting it done,” means winning football games.
Stefanski’s Browns are 3-7 right now, and just 11-16 since their 2020 divisional round playoff loss in Kansas City.
They are trending the wrong way, so… should Kevin Stefanski be on the hot seat?
No- He Was Dealt a Bad Hand
Nobody argues that the Cleveland Browns offense is putting up better-than-expected stats with Jacoby Brissett.
And after Baker Mayfield’s Carolina Panthers experience, we can argue Stefanski exceeded expectations in 2020-21 as well.
Cleveland currently has the 4th-best offense by yardage and 10th best scoring offense.
Jacoby Brissett would be on pace for 4,076 passing yards over the full 17 game season. There is only one 4,000 yard passing season in Browns history – Brian Sipe’s 1980 MVP season (16 games). Brissett’s pace is only 55 yds behind Sipe’s total.
— Rod BLuhM #D4L (@CLERodB) November 22, 2022
Nobody expected Brissett to lead the team from behind or throw for 300 yards each week.
And Stephanski can’t be faulted for bad drafts, bad defensive schemes, and missed kicks.
But most of all, he deserves a season with Deshaun Watson behind center after his great work with Mayfield and Brissett.
Yes- He Is Not Managing the Team
Few argue that Stefanski is not a good offensive coordinator who gets a lot out of his quarterbacks.
But he was hired to be the head coach, and that means he absolutely can be blamed for bad defense and special teams.
All of it is his responsibility, and if their efforts are unsatisfactory, Stefanski needs to spend time with the other coordinators.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) November 20, 2022
This is also the second year that Stefanski’s locker room appears to be a players-only environment.
He managed the Odell Beckham/Mayfield fiasco too passively and doesn’t appear willing to head off a defensive rebellion.
We don’t blame Stefanski for wanting to run a Watson-led offense, but he’s paid to coach, manage, and coordinate everybody.
Should the Watson Games Decide His Fate?
It wasn’t long ago when consecutive losing seasons practically guaranteed a quick axe and a reset from Jimmy Haslam.
But after some resistance, Haslam bought into Paul DePodesta’s mantra that stability brings championships.
And stable franchises don’t rifle through GMs and head coaches every 2 years.
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) November 16, 2022
But what if Stefanski can’t win enough of the last 6 games with his new franchise quarterback?
Watson probably won’t put up much better offensive numbers, but the effect of a franchise passer on the rest of the roster helps.
And even with his new star behind center, it could still be the defense and special teams that determine Stefanski’s fate.