American Football

Kevin Stefanski named among top 20 people under pressure in the NFL this year

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Phil Masturzo / USA TODAY NETWORK

Browns head coach faces pressure after two straight losing seasons

The Cleveland Browns have a Super Bowl-caliber roster if QB Deshaun Watson plays anywhere near his capabilities. Last year’s team would have made the playoffs if they cover an onside kick (Jets game), make a field goal (Chargers game) and either stop the run (Falcons game) or run the football more (Saints game).

While that is a lot of “what if” type moments, the Browns took that team from last year and switched out DC Joe Woods for Jim Schwartz, ST coordinator Mike Priefer for Bubba Ventrone and added a ton of talent on the defensive line and wide receiver groups.

After two straight losing seasons, HC Kevin Stefanski and GM Andrew Berry have seen the shine from the 2020 playoff appearance come off quickly. Media and fans need to see it on the field after hearing about how great Cleveland’s team should be for years.

According to ESPN (Insider, $), Stefanski is one of the top 20 people in the NFL under pressure in 2023. The coach joins a list with some big names like QB Josh Allen, DE Chase Young, WR Calvin Ridley and GM Joe Douglas. Of Stefanski, Bill Barnwell notes that fired or extended seem to be the two avenues owner Jimmy Haslam could take after the season:

After a full offseason, the hope is that Stefanski and Watson will be on the same page in 2023. If they aren’t, well, only one of those two parties has a fully guaranteed contract for $230 million. After the team addressed its defensive woes by adding Jim Schwartz this offseason to serve as coordinator, there’s not really a major change for them to make outside of Stefanski if the Browns struggle in 2023. No Browns coach has survived three consecutive losing seasons since Bill Belichick in the early 1990s. If Stefanski does right the ship and gets Watson to look more like the player the Browns expected last offseason, though, he could push for a contract extension.

Cleveland hasn’t had a head coach complete his fourth year as the team’s head coach since Romeo Crennel in 2008. The last coaches to last more than five years are legends: Bill Belichick (1991-95) and Marty Schottenheimer (1984-88).

The dichotomy between the potential outcomes for Stefanski (and potentially Berry) is vast. For Browns fans, all that matters is if the team wins or not. If Stefanski and Berry can right the ship starting in 2023, accolades and praise will rain from the heavens. If they don’t, calls for their heads will grow as soon as the team has a losing record.

For the city, the team and his future career, there is a lot riding on 2023 for Stefanski.

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