For the first time seemingly in years, the Cleveland Browns will be bringing back each one of their positional coaches, coordinators, head coach and general manager. For the better part of two decades, the Browns have been rotating coaches and front office pieces almost as much as they have been with starting quarterbacks. The infamous picture containing the jersey with all of quarterback names would fail in comparison to a list of all the coaches and front office executives that have come through Cleveland.
Organizational continuity is an extremely important aspect of successful NFL franchises, and the Browns have finally reached the point where not only players, but also coaches, feel that Cleveland is the right spot for them.
The hiring of Kevin Stefanski was met with extreme criticism, as many Browns fans preferred a coach with prior experience as a head man after the disaster that was Freddie Kitchens. Despite Stefanski’s lack of head coaching experience, the former Vikings offensive coordinator was Browns Chief Strategy Officer, Paul DePodesta’s, man all along. The defacto Browns president preferred Stefanski the year before, but was overruled by former general manager John Dorsey. DePodesta’s intuition has been vindicated however, with Stefanski winning the NFL’s Coach of the Year award in 2020.
The lone coach Stefanski decided to keep from Freddie Kitchen’s staff was special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. Priefer, a career assistant, served as the interim head coach of the Minnesota Vikings for one game in 2016. While his team lost in 2016, Priefer was forced to recount on the lessons learned during that time when he was asked to once again serve as acting head coach; this time in Cleveland’s first playoff game since 2002 as Kevin Stefanski contracted COVID-19 in the week leading up to the Browns’ showdown with division rival Pittsburgh. Cleveland’s performance and subsequent victory over the Steelers was extra meaningful to Priefer, a Cleveland native, who knew just how agonizing the past twenty years have been for his hometown fans.
Another key coaching performance came in the form of Cleveland Chief of Staff Callie Brownson. Brownson, like Kevin Stefanski and General Manager Andrew Berry, has an Ivy League background having served as Dartmouth College’s offensive quality control coach in 2018. Brownson is known as a “jack of all trades” amongst the Cleveland coaching staff, quickly earning the respect and admiration of the players soon after her arrival.
As a result of multiple coaches contracting COVID-19 at various points in the season, Brownson’s role only increased as she filled in for tight ends coach Drew Petzing during week 12, and passing game coordinator Chad O’Shea in Cleveland’s must win week 17 game versus Pittsburgh. Callie Brownson is a rising star in the NFL and the Browns are extremely lucky to have her.
Organizational cohesion is something that Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam have been searching for ever since they purchased the team from Randy Lerner. While the Haslams have taken their fair share of criticism over how they have run the team, they have finally hired the right kind of people needed to ensure a lengthy run at the top of the NFL. In order to become one of the mainstays in football, the organization needs to remain consistent in nearly every facet. Thankfully for fans of the Cleveland Browns, they are taking the right steps towards consistent organizational cohesion.