When Kevin Stefanski was introduced as the newest coach of the Cleveland Browns this offseason, he left the door open for someone other than himself to call plays for the team in 2020. Days before the Browns are scheduled to open their season against the Baltimore Ravens, Stefanski has finally offered clarity on the situation, telling reporters Friday he will in fact be the Browns’ play-caller.

The news shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering Stefanski’s background. Before replacing Freddie Kitchens atop the Browns’ staff, the 38-year-old Philadelphia native spent the better part of two seasons calling plays for the Minnesota Vikings, garnering interest as a head coaching candidate for his work as an offensive coordinator. Still, Stefanski had current Browns OC Alex Van Pelt oversee occasional play-calling duties during training camp and indicated upon his hiring that he’d be OK opening his Browns career with an assistant directing the calls.

“As we put the staff together, if there’s someone that’s on staff that I feel gives us the best chance to win, that person will call the plays,” he said at the time. “It doesn’t have to be me. I’m all about what’s best for the Cleveland Browns. If that’s me calling plays, great. If it’s not, I’m fine with that, too.”

First-time head coaches calling their own plays have seen mixed results. (The Browns, for example, got a sour taste of that in 2019, when Kitchens fumbled his way through a 6-10 season.) At the end of the day, though, Cleveland hired Stefanski for his offensive touch, and he proved effective as a play-caller for much of his time as the Vikings’ OC. Prior to that, Stefanski spent an additional seven years on Minnesota’s staff, including as the position coach for quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends.


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