Vikings' Kevin Stefanski Hired as Browns HC, Reportedly Signs 5-Year Contract

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 20: Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski looks on  during a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 20, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns officially named Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as the 18th full-time head coach in franchise history on Monday.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Stefanski signed a five-year contract with the team.

Schefter and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport previously reported on Sunday that the team planned on making the hire.

The 37-year-old spent 14 seasons on the Vikings staff dating back to 2006, working his way up from an assistant to a position coach and eventually offensive coordinator.

He was first promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator on an interim basis for the final three games in 2018 and then remained in the role in 2019. He took over a squad that averaged 21.7 points per game in the first 13 games and helped the team average 26 points per game in the final three weeks of 2018.

The Vikings offense was much more effective overall this past season, improving from the No. 19 scoring offense to the No. 8 scoring offense in 2019. The unit was especially dominant in the run game while ranking sixth in the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, helping Dalvin Cook earn his first Pro Bowl selection.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins also thrived even with a smaller role in the offense, setting a career high with a 107.4 quarterback rating which ranked fourth-best in the NFL.

Stefanski got the most out of his players during the regular season and eventually helped lead the Vikings to the second round of the playoffs. This type of year made him a hot name in the coaching carousel, getting early interviews with the Browns and Panthers.

He interviewed for the Cleveland head coaching job last season and was reportedly a favorite of chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, but Baker Mayfield helped push the team to hire Freddie Kitchens, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

Kitchens was fired after one disappointing season that saw the promising squad end the year with a 6-10 record.

With DePodesta now running the coaching search, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, it seems he got a second chance at his top choice.

Stefanski will now take over a team that has plenty of talent, especially offensively with Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry among others. Based on his history, he could do a better job of featuring Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the rushing attack while taking pressure off Mayfield through the air.

Though his lack of high-level coaching experience is a concern—especially after Kitchens' problems in 2019—but Cleveland believes he has what it takes to get the squad to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.