As they advance to the finalist stage of their coaching search, the Browns appear to be zeroing in on young play-callers.
Kevin Stefanski is headed back to Cleveland for a second interview, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (on Twitter). The coach who took over the Vikings’ play-calling responsibilities late in the season may be competing with Freddie Kitchens, who ascended to this role in Cleveland.
Kitchens now has a “good chance” of landing the Browns’ HC job, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The Browns interviewed Kitchens on Monday and have been making calls to inquire about his coaching past, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
These are the two finalists for the position, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. As Stefanski heads back to Cleveland, Kitchens remains in the Browns’ building.
While the Browns are eyeing Stefanski for their HC job, he remains a leading candidate to stay on with the Vikings as OC, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. However, Stefanski is a coaching free agent after his contract recently expired.
Several Browns assistants have already been asked to stay on board, Cabot reports, which would back the idea the 44-year-old Kitchens will receive a major promotion. Neither Kitchens nor Stefanski had OC experience heading into 2018. The Browns appear to be serious about pairing Baker Mayfield with a young, offensively oriented leader.
Stefanski, 36, interviewed for the Browns’ HC vacancy on Jan. 3. He is the youngest candidate involved in the John Dorsey-led search. This comes after he was passed over for the Vikings’ OC job a year ago for former Browns OC John DeFilippo. But Minnesota fired the latter late this season, and Stefanski is competing with Kitchens and perhaps others for the Cleveland job.
The Browns blocked Kitchens from pursuing offensive coordinator jobs outside the organization. It looks like he has a real shot to continue to work with Mayfield, which is not necessarily a big surprise given the rookie passer’s success after the Browns fired Hue Jackson and Todd Haley. Kitchens receiving the HC job may point to Gregg Williams staying on, though it would be an altered dynamic given the 60-year-old interim leader’s previous role as Kitchens’ boss.
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