Kevin Stefanski, Browns adapting to NFL offseason in flux

First year head coach working from home in Minnesota

April 3, 2020
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski finds himself in the same situation as the rest of us are in.

Stuck at home working remotely and watching his kids, who can’t go to school.

“This is definitely testing my parenting skills,” Stefanski said Thursday. “I am one of the better gym coaches there is right now. PE has been a big hit in this household.” 

Stefanski had hoped to move his family to Cleveland this month and be on hand for the Browns draft preparations, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put those plans on hold.

Two weeks ago, he returned to Minnesota to be with his family while the world has come to a halt.

 “I think every one of our fans, their work setup is very similar to my work setup right now,” Stefanski said. “A lot of Zoom calls, Microsoft Teams and FaceTime calls. You just have to make it work. I do not look at it from any other perspective than that. I think all 32 teams are at the same disadvantage, and that is the truth. Everyone is dealing with it.”

Stefanski credited the Browns IT department with setting him up so he hasn’t skipped a beat working 750 miles away.

“Virtually, it is amazing what you can get done remotely,” Stefanski said. “In my conversations with Paul and my conversations with Andrew over the last few weeks, we have not slowed down.”

With Stefanski in his first year as head coach in Cleveland, the Browns were supposed to start the offseason program on Monday but that will not happen with NFL facilities closed on orders of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

“I do not have a firm grasp of exactly of what this offseason program will look like,” Stefanski said, “but I will tell you that we have spent so much time thinking of the different ways it could go that whatever the rules and whatever they bring up, we will be ready.”

April and May are critical for first-year head coaches who use the time to install their offensive and defensive systems. Stefanski doesn’t see the loss of meeting time and OTAs as an obstacle.

“No, I do not think so. I think all 32 clubs are going to be playing by the same rules,” Stefanski said. “Whenever we see our players and whether it is via Microsoft Surface tablet or seeing them in person, I think we will have our program ready to go and our installs ready to go. I think we are in the same boat as everybody else.”

Stefanski, his staff and the front office have been in constant contact with players, checking up on them and making sure they and their families remain safe while awaiting word from the league on when they can begin talking football with them.

“We have plans and then contingency plans and then contingency plans for those contingency plans,” Stefanski said. “We are trying to think about this thing and hit it from every angle, pending the rules and structure that the NFL and NFLPA agree upon. Whatever that may be – I do not have the answer on what that is just yet. We are ready.” 

Regardless of what the NFL decides, Stefanski won’t allow himself, his staff or players to use it as an excuse.

“We preach this all the time that you have to be ready to adapt and you have to be ready to hit the curveball. This is a bit if the curveball, but I think our guys are thinking creatively about how to attack this offseason,” Stefanski said. “I just think our group has been working really hard to make sure that we attack this offseason because it is a unique offseason. It is not one that I think people have seen before, but it is our job to attack this thing and make sure that we make great strides this offseason, regardless of what the structure of this offseason looks like.”

The NFL plans to move forward with the draft later this month and odds are Stefanski will remain stuck in Minnesota.

“We have to assume it is staying right there like the league has said and we have to be ready,” Stefanski said. “If they should postpone that or anything for that matter, we can adjust, but we have to make sure we are ready to roll come a couple weeks [from now] when the draft gets started.”