The Cleveland Browns stumbled to a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and head coach Kevin Stefanski’s seat is starting to heat up a bit.
After guiding the Browns into the postseason and winning coach of the year as a rookie skipper, Stefanski has stumbled. The Browns finished last season 8-9, missing the playoffs, and the team’s game has been uneven earlier this year. Overall, Stefanski is 21-17 as the man in charge in Cleveland.
While Stefanski isn’t firmly in the hot seat, he did land on The Athletic’s list of training situations to watch. Here’s what The Athletic’s Mike Jones had to say about Stefanski’s job security:
Stefanski has repeatedly taken the heat for the Browns’ mistakes, refusing to throw other coaches or players under the bus for mistakes, misunderstandings and general ineffectiveness.
“It’s my responsibility to fix that,” Stefanski said after the Browns’ recent defeat. “I know that, I’ve seen these players, these coaches, this group play winning football. We have to do it. Very easy for me to say it, us to say it…we have to do it.”
He may not need to do it anytime soon, but with losses piling up Stefanski will be under pressure to change things quickly next season.
The big catalyst waiting in the wings for the Browns is Watson, who has an 11-game suspension. He returned to the team this week and Stefanski and co are happy to have him around, albeit in a limited capacity.
Until November 14, the three-time Pro Bowl passer is only allowed to attend team meetings, meet individually with the coaches, and train at the team’s facility. After that, he can begin training before taking to the field on December 4 for his first start in the Browns uniform.
“We will work through what we can do with him for the foreseeable future,” said Stefanski. “He’s in the briefing rooms with our boys. … It’s great for him and for us to have him back with his teammates.”
The Browns have Watson as their quarterback of the future. They gave up three first-round picks in the deal and signed him to a five-year, $230 million deal.
“He’s in a good place,” said Stefanski. “I think he worked really hard, was there [Cleveland], worked on site and made sure he stayed physically fit. Now he just needs to catch up a bit in the briefing room.”
The Browns’ three losses this season total six points, showing the low margin for error in the NFL. Many of the most notable mistakes have happened late in games, whether it’s a defensive breakdown, a late turnover, or a missed kick.
“We are in five games and of course there are things that we absolutely need to address, look at and fix quickly,” said Stefanski. “We don’t have a farewell week and you don’t have two weeks to look at this. We need to fix it fast. To put it in a nutshell, we have a lot of guys who played really good football for us. I know they want it fixed. I know that as coaches we do that too.”
The Browns are a 3-point home favorite against the Patriots this week, with New England struggling with an uncertain QB situation. Fourth-round rookie Bailey Zappe started last week as the Patriots throttled Detroit 29-0.