After 14 seasons spent as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Vikings, Kevin Stefanski now returns to Minneapolis as head coach of the Cleveland Browns this weekend.
Stefanski built himself into a head coach in Minnesota as a member of various coaching regimes before putting the finishing touches on his resume as offensive coordinator under Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. It’s a place that helped develop him into the coach he is today after starting with the organization as a personal assistant to head coach Brad Childress in 2006.
But this weekend, Stefanski is trying to focus on the game at hand and not the 14 years that came before it.
“It’s a special place,” Stefanski said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I had a great time there and was treated great by the organization, from the ownership, coaches, and the staff. I have really good friends there. With that said, it’s a really big game. They’re a really good team. That has our full attention.”
Stefanski began as an assistant to Childress before moving to a position as an assistant quarterbacks coach. He would dabble with coaching tight ends and running backs as well before returning to coaching quarterbacks under Zimmer in 2017. He became an interim offensive coordinator in 2018 and took over the full-time role in 2019 before getting his chance to lead the Browns starting last season.
“I firmly believe that things worked out the way they should,” Stefanski said, via Tom Withers of the Associated Press “I would speak to my whole time there was very impactful. It is a really well-run organization from top to bottom.”
Stefanski also spoke to the chance he received under Zimmer and how that helped him get to where he is now.
“The way he runs his operation is very similar to the way we do things here,” Stefanski said. “Coach Zim is very, very transparent and very blunt with the players and coaches, you know where you stand.
“I owe him a great debt of gratitude for how he, No. 1, retained me on the staff when he came in, and then moved me through the offensive staff and made me a coordinator. He’s somebody who was very instrumental in my development.”