Bill Cowher Offers Advice To Browns' Kevin Stefanski

Stefanski inherits a team that underachieved in 2019

Tiki and Tierney
January 15, 2020 - 6:18 pm
Kevin Stefanski Browns

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Kevin Stefanski is 37 years old and has never been a head coach. He is heading to an organization that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002 and woefully underachieved this past season.

What does Stefanski need to do to make the Browns a contender?

“I think he does need to get a feel for the building and get a feel for what the protocols are to go through what he wants to go through,” Bill Cowher said on Tiki & Tierney. “You come into a football team, and he needs to identify who’s in and who’s not – who’s there for the right reasons and who’s not. You need to align with people that think like you, that act like you, that you want to represent the core values that you have.”

The Browns, with Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Nick Chubb, among other stars, were expected to win the AFC North this season and contend for a Super Bowl. Instead, Cleveland went 6-10 and finished with a losing record for the 12th straight year.

“He’s got a talented team,” Cowher said of Stefanski. “But I think they need some structure. They need direction. They need to hold people accountable – accountable for their actions on the field, accountable for their actions off the field. Sometimes it may take making an example or two, but he also needs to have the backing of the team.”

That can be difficult for young coaches to achieve.

“There’s such a division in the building that you get mixed messages being sent,” Cowher said. “For players, they have to know that Kevin Stefanski is the man in charge when he’s standing up in front of that football team. It’s not going to be (Paul) DePodesta, it’s not going to be whoever the GM may be, it’s not going to be the owner. He’s the football coach. He’s the guy that’s going to pull them aside, and he’s got to make them right. He’s going to tell them when they’re doing it wrong; he’s going to pat them on the back when they’re doing it right. But he has to be the man in charge. When he walks into that room, he needs to demand respect. That takes the support of everybody around him.”

While the 2019 season did not go as Browns fans hoped, Cowher believes all is not lost. Cleveland needs someone to steer the ship, and Stefanski could be that guy.

“I think they’re very talented,” Cowher said. “I think they need to look at their offensive line. I think it starts there. I think there’s too much worrying about who was getting the ball. Why don’t you just run it? You’ve got two of the best runners in the National Football League, and we’re worrying about how many touches Landry gets or Odell gets. Come on, seriously, you’ve got the two best runners. You’ve got Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Are you kidding me? I don’t care how many times you touch the ball. . . . Odell is one of the best blocking receivers in the league. He’s a great receiver. But you need to embrace that. You need to nurture that.

“So [Stefanski] needs to get a good staff of teachers,” Cowher continued, “a good staff that gives him a system that takes their strengths . . . and don’t worry about the personalities. Build a system that’s built around the talent that you have. I think Kevin will do that.”