Kevin Stefanski was a contender for the Browns head coaching job in 2019. It went to Freddie Kitchens, who was fired after Cleveland went 6-10.
The Browns hired Stefanski last January, ostensibly correcting their mistake. But Stefanski feels he benefited greatly from spending one more year in Minnesota because he shared the 2019 season with Gary Kubiak.
The former Broncos and Texans head coach was an assistant head coach and offensive advisor for Minnesota, with Stefanski as the team’s offensive coordinator. Stefanski had taken over the position on an interim basis midway through 2018, and head coach Mike Zimmer removed the interim tag for the following year.
And now after his first season as the Browns head coach — during which the club went to the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and won its first playoff game since 1994 — Stefanski credits Kubiak for helping prepare him for success with his offensive scheme.
“For years, that scheme has been very hard on defenses, when you talk about defending the run game and the play-action game,” Stefanski said in an interview with Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “I had never been in that scheme specifically. I’ve been in other ones, and I had my own thoughts about the run game and play-action game, but to be able to be exposed to coach Kub and the different nuance that he had into those plays was was incredible for me.”
Stefanski says he was able to lean on Kubiak throughout 2019, and continued to do so in 2020 with the two talking nearly ever week. Kubiak credited Stefanski for having “zero ego” and being so willing to take and implement feedback.
“Not many people are lucky enough to have a setup like that,” Stefanski said. “It was such a valuable year for me to grow. I’m thrilled that I was able to have that opportunity under coach Zim, with coach Kub. It really made me better.”