If we all had to vote on the one sports franchise regardless of the sport with the worst luck and least amount of success over the last decade, the Cleveland Browns would likely win unanimously. Many thought this wouldn’t be the case in 2019 for the Browns, but the season that began with playoff aspirations ended in a shoddy 6-10 record and a complete personnel/coaching overhaul. The good news for the Browns' organization and their fans is that 2020 is looking incredibly bright with their new head coach, Kevin Stefanski.
As known for his role in Moneyball with Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics in the early 2000s, Paul DePodesta, now the Browns’ Chief Strategy Officer, was reportedly pulling for Stefanski to be hired as the head coach after last season. After not being taken up on his advice last year, he got his wish this offseason, and the Browns are now all-in on the analytics train.
Before coming to Cleveland a few weeks ago, Stefanski spent a year as the Minnesota Vikings‘ offensive coordinator, where he managed to overcome their head coach’s bold run/pass philosophy to lead the offense to its highest expected points added per play figure since 2009, when Brett Favre was the quarterback. On top of that, he put Kirk Cousins in a system that allowed him to produce a career-high 84.1 overall grade — making him go from a bit overrated to underrated. Stefanski can do the same with Cleveland, and here’s why:
Stefanski is one of best play-callers in the NFL
Minnesota’s head coach Mike Zimmer is a defensive mastermind, there’s no debate on that end. He didn’t call Minnesota's offense — Stefanski did — but as said by my colleagues Ben Brown and Eric Eager, Zimmer’s “run the damn ball” mentality was the base of the offense and partially responsible for their run/pass split.