Kevin Stefanski

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Rumors: Berry, OBJ, Landry, Van Pelt

The Browns dominated last year’s NFL offseason storylines. After their strong finish to the 2018 season, lead executive John Dorsey made a number of aggressive moves, highlighted by the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr. However, while that momentum led them to be a pundit favorite to win their division and potentially reach the Super Bowl, those predictions never came close to fruition. They finished the season 6-10 and moved on from Dorsey and rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens.

New general manager Andrew Berry though, seemed to suggest he will at least follow Dorsey in his willingness to make bold moves. In her weekly mailbag, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com noted that Berry was clear in his introductory press conference that he was looking to be aggressive and would not shy away from big moves.

Here are more notes from around the Browns organization:

  • Jay Glazer of The Athletic does not expect Cleveland to make any moves to unload either Beckham or Jarvis Landry this offseason. Glazer noted that new head coach Kevin Stefanski would likely want as many offensive weapons as possible given his focus on offense. Glazer did note that both Beckham and Landry have to be invested in Stefanski for that to work. He could still see a trade occurring if they are unwilling to buy-in.
  • Cleveland has yet to announce if there will be a quarterbacks coach on Stefanski’s staff. In a separate part of her mailbag, Mary Kay Cabot suggested there is a pretty good chance that offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will serve the dual role as coordinator and QB coach considering his lengthy experience at that position.

AFC North Notes: Burrow, Stefanski, Ravens

The Bengals are widely expected to take LSU QB Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, but there may be a bit of intrigue in that regard, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Burrow will work with former Bengal Jordan Palmer, the little brother of franchise icon Carson Palmer, for his pre-draft training. And the elder Palmer recently had some critical comments for Cincinnati, saying that the club was never really dedicated to chasing a Super Bowl.

Burrow subsequently said the following: “[y]ou want to go No. 1. But you also want to go to a great organization that is committed to winning. Committed to winning Super Bowls.” That may just be a coincidence, and Burrow’s father recently downplayed any notion that Burrow doesn’t want to be picked by the Bengals (Twitter link via Jeremy Rauch of FOX 19), but Breer believes Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin may need to sell Burrow on the team just a bit.

Now for more from the AFC North:

  • As expected, the Bengals have promoted Dan Pitcher to quarterbacks coach after Alex Van Pelt left for Cleveland’s OC job, the team announced. Pitcher will have a significant role in Burrow’s development, assuming Cincy selects the LSU signal-caller.
  • We passed along some remarks from new Browns GM Andrew Berry earlier today, and new Cleveland HC Kevin Stefanski also took to the podium. Scott Patsko of Cleveland.com passes along the entire transcript, which is worth a read for Browns fans, but much of it was fairly non-committal coach-speak, which Stefanski has already mastered. Stefanski, though, made it a point to note that he will be heavily involved in making personnel decisions with Berry, and he said he does not know who will be calling offensive plays this year.
  • Though the Ravens have more cap flexibility this year than in past seasons, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic does not expect a spending spree. He predicts perhaps one big-ticket item and a few modest signings, and much will depend on what the club decides to do with pass rusher Matt Judon — a situation that is still fluid — and whether RG Marshal Yanda retires. He also names OL James Hurst as a potential release candidate.
  • Steelers president Art Rooney II indicated his club may target a RB and/or WR in free agency, per Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, though Rooney said Pittsburgh is content with the quarterback situation as it is. Behind Ben Roethlisberger, the club will roll with some combination of Mason Rudolph, Duck Hodges, and Paxton Lynch.

Extra Points: Johnson, Stefanski, Browns

Chad Johnson’s time as a pro football player might not be finished after all. The legendary former NFL receiver will tryout as a kicker with the XFL on Monday, he announced on Twitter. The tryout in Houston is indeed legit, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com confirmed with a source. Johnson is 42 now, and hasn’t appeared in a game since the 2011 season. He’s a huge soccer fan, and has often expressed an interest in kicking. Back during the 2009 preseason when he was still with the Bengals, he converted an extra point and handled a kickoff. Johnson became a six-time Pro Bowler with Cincinnati and was a first-team All-Pro selection three times. One of the best receivers in the league for a long stretch, he finished with 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns. He also briefly played in the CFL a handful of years ago. It still seems like more of a publicity stunt than anything else, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Here’s more from around the football world:

  • The Browns settled on a new head coach in Kevin Stefanski, but they’re still searching for a new general manager. One potential candidate is Vikings assistant GM George Paton, but he’s apparently hard to pin down. Paton has been very picky with interviews in recent years, and the Browns still haven’t gotten a firm commitment from him on whether or not he’ll interview, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). It was initially reported that Paton had agreed to interview, but that turned out not to be true. Eagles executive Andrew Berry and Patriots exec Monti Ossenfort are also candidates.
  • Whoever Cleveland selects to be their next GM, Stefanski will have a lot of input in the front office. The rookie head coach “will have a large say in roster decisions,” writes Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Kay Cabot thinks they wouldn’t want his help hiring the new general manager if he wasn’t going to have a lot of power once they’re hired. Stefanski is still only 37 and last season was his first full one as a coordinator, but the Haslam family clearly has a lot of trust in him.
  • Stefanski still has some staffing decisions to make, even after it appears he settled on Joe Woods to be his new defensive coordinator. He won’t be hiring a new special teams coordinator, as sources told Kay Cabot that he’s going to keep Mike Priefer as a rare holdover from Freddie Kitchens’ staff. Priefer was Minnesota’s special teams coordinator for eight seasons while Stefanski was with the Vikings, so they have a lot of familiarity with one another. Priefer had previously been STC for the Chiefs and Broncos.

Browns Hire Kevin Stefanski As Head Coach

Jan. 13: The Browns have formally announced the hire. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Cleveland has given Stefanski a five-year contract (Twitter link).

Jan. 12: The Browns will hire Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as their new head coach, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports (via Twitter) that it’s a done deal. Stefanski was the runner-up for the Cleveland HC gig last year, and after Freddie Kitchen‘s disastrous 2019 campaign resulted in his dismissal, the Browns have circled back to the man many believe they should have hired in the first place.

Stefanski has served in a variety of roles for the Vikings since joining the organization back in 2006, including stints as the tight ends coach, running backs coach, and quarterbacks coach. The 37-year-old was named interim offensive coordinator following the firing of John DeFilippo during the 2018 season, and he earned the full-time gig prior to the 2019 campaign.

During Stefanski’s first full season at the helm, the Vikings ranked as a top-10 offense in points. The coach led the trio of Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and Mike Boone to top-six rankings in rushing yards and touchdowns, and he also helped quarterback Kirk Cousins have one of the best seasons of his career. Although the Vikings laid an egg in Saturday’s divisional round loss to the 49ers, Cleveland was obviously undeterred.

The Browns’ coaching search saw them interview eight candidates, as our 2020 head coaching search tracker shows (former Baylor HC Matt Rhule, who ultimately accepted the Panthers’ head coaching job, turned down the opportunity to interview with Cleveland). Browns chief strategist Paul DePodesta piloted the search, and recent reports indicated that he had narrowed his list to Stefanski and Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, though Cabot tweets that Stefanski and 49ers DC Robert Saleh were the two finalists.

Interestingly, DePodesta’s contract with Cleveland is reportedly set to expire, but given his role in the coaching search, it seems likely that the Browns will retain him. However, the team continues to search for a new GM, and Eagles vice president of football operations Andrew Berry may have just become the leading candidate for that role, as his analytically-driven approach meshes with Stefanski’s.

Meanwhile, Vikings QB coach Klint Kubiak could follow Stefanski to Cleveland to become the Browns’ new OC, as Mike Klis of 9News.com tweets.

With the Stefanski hire, the 2020 head coaching cycle has come to a stop. The Browns were the last of the five teams with a head coaching vacancy this year to hire their HC.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns’ Coaching & GM Search

The Browns have their new head coach in Kevin Stefanski, but they still need a new GM after firing John Dorsey. They recently requested an interview with Eagles exec Andrew Berry, and Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports tweets that he’s “at the front of the GM candidates.”

Robinson notes that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam once said he considered Berry a future GM, and that he has a relationship with chief strategist Paul DePodesta. In a separate tweet, Robinson explains that it may come down to whether or not Berry wants to take the job. He notes that Berry, who used to work in Cleveland under former GM Sashi Brown, is only 32 and in a good situation in Philly. He also writes that Berry will likely get other calls if he passes on the job.

As for the search that ultimately ended in Stefanski, Robinson has some interesting new nuggets. He tweets that Josh McDanielswanted a specific structure with the Browns” and that he “wasn’t going to an org where DePodesta or anyone else was a ‘side jury’ reporting to Haslam.” If that’s the case, then it sounds like McDaniels never got too close to landing in Cleveland despite his lengthy visit. The Browns and Haslam have caught plenty of flak for their odd reporting structures, and it sounds like that was an issue once again this time around. 

Robinson also tweets that both Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh “had very good interviews” and that he thinks they were the finalists along with Stefanski. Both should be hot names during next cycle. As for Stefanski’s staff, Robinson tweets that the rookie head coach will likely target either Gary or Klint Kubiak. The Kubiaks were on staff with Stefanski in Minnesota, although Robinson thinks the Vikings will try to retain both. Either could be a candidate to be Cleveland’s new OC assuming Stefanski hires one.

Finally, Robinson tweeted about the future prospects for assistant GM Eliot Wolf and VP of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith. He thinks the Haslams are open to both staying, and that Wolf will have a conversation with whoever the new GM is about a role.

Brian Daboll, Robert Saleh Remain In Mix For Browns Job

The Browns interviewed Josh McDaniels on Friday to (seemingly) wrap up their eight-candidate run of meetings. The buzz at the work week’s end fixated on the Patriots offensive coordinator and Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski, but this weekend, other names remain in the mix.

Bills OC Brian Daboll is the sleeper in this process, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen, who notes Daboll gave a strong interview earlier this week (Twitter link). Additionally, 49ers DC Robert Saleh is not off the radar either. Saleh and Stefanski have been most connected to this job recently, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (on Twitter).

Saleh and Stefanski will match up in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon, and the loser of said showdown will be eligible to accept Cleveland’s offer immediately. While the Browns would have to wait to hire the winner in this matchup, they are not competing against any other team to fill their HC post. The Browns were believed to want to wrap up this search by today, but Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that the team now seeks to table that decision until after divisional-round weekend (Twitter link).

McDaniels left Cleveland without a deal in place, which could be an ominous sign for his chances of securing his job with his hometown franchise. The northeast Ohio native has interviewed for this job three times since 2009. Stefanski wowed Browns brass during last year’s coaching search, but the John Dorsey-led search included Jimmy Haslam preferring Freddie Kitchens. Paul DePodesta, who is piloting this year’s search, has a good relationship with Eagles DC Jim Schwartz. But the former Lions HC’s momentum may have cooled.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: McDaniels, Browns, Judge, Giants, Rams, Cowboys

Josh McDaniels left his Browns visit without a deal, and the latest word is that Cleveland will take the weekend to mull things over. While they’ve been careful not to tip their hand too much, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic tweets that it’s not a good sign McDaniels went back home without a contract. Lombardi was the first to suggest that now former Browns GM John Dorsey might be in danger, so he’s certainly plugged into the situation. A report from earlier this morning indicated that McDaniels, Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz were the three finalists, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets that “multiple people around the league” believe it’s down to McDaniels and Stefanski. If Lombardi and Fowler are both correct, then that would seem to indicate Stefanski is the favorite as of right now.

Here’s more from the coaching ranks:

  • The Giants gave Joe Judge a five-year contract to be their head coach, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). It’s not the massive seven-year deal that Matt Rhule got from the Panthers, but it’s a significant commitment nonetheless. It’s especially noteworthy since, as Schefter points out, each of New York’s last two coaches have been given two years or less on the job. Simply to avoid the reputation of being coach-killers, the Giants’ ownership will likely give Judge a somewhat lengthy leash.
  • Cleveland is the only team with a head-coaching vacancy, but the dust has yet to settle for plenty of assistant coaches. There are still a lot of openings around the league, and it looks like a bidding war is brewing between the Rams and Cowboys. Both Los Angeles and Dallas are fighting to make Stan Drayton their next running backs coach, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com (Twitter link). Drayton is currently the run-game coordinator at Texas. Brandt notes that Drayton coached Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State, which explains the Cowboys’ interest. It’ll be interesting to see whether he picks Sean McVay or Mike McCarthy.
  • In case you missed it, Rhule is looking to bring his defensive coordinator from Baylor with him to fill the same position in Carolina.

Latest On Browns’ Coaching Search

Part 1 of the final leg of Browns interviews took place Wednesday, with Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz sitting down with team brass. Despite being a late entry into this process, Schwartz continues to gain steam.

The former Lions head coach is a legitimate candidate to land this job, per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, who is running this search, already has a good relationship with Schwartz, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (video link).

Kevin Stefanski is up next, with that interview set to take place Thursday in Minneapolis. Stefanski impressed during two interviews for this job last year, but Rapoport notes that while John Dorsey ran the search that ended with Freddie Kitchens, owner Jimmy Haslam also nixed a potential Stefanski-Browns union. While DePodesta now has greater say in how the Browns proceed here, Haslam certainly still will make the call.

Josh McDaniels‘ interview remains on for Friday. The longtime Patriots OC has interviewed with his hometown team twice before. Although McDaniels withdrew his name from consideration for the Browns job in 2014 and backed out of a Colts agreement four years later, Rapoport adds that the 43-year-old assistant “definitely wants” this job. However, he may no longer be the favorite.

The Browns have interviewed several others in this search, which is slated to be an eight-interview process. But at this point it would be a bit of a surprise if one of these final three did not end up with the job. The team is aiming to have a coach by Saturday. Here is where the Browns’ process stands as of Wednesday night, courtesy of PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns’ HC Search

The Browns are no longer competing with any team for coaching candidates, with the Panthers and Giants having made their choices. However, neither hired a coach the Browns were considering. Both were linked to Josh McDaniels, who remains set to interview with the Browns on Friday.

But with Jim Schwartz entering the derby and Kevin Stefanski remaining a Browns target, McDaniels’ status as frontrunner may be slipping. The Patriots offensive coordinator may not have the edge Schwartz or Stefanski, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link).

Stefanski wowed Browns brass in his 2019 interview, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer adds. But then-GM John Dorsey promoted Freddie Kitchens instead. With Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta running this year’s search, the team appears to be seeking analytically geared coaches. Schwartz and Stefanski profile as embracing analytics, per Rapoport.

McDaniels, however, still has support in the Browns building, Cabot notes, adding that DePodesta and ex-Browns exec Andrew Berry (now with the Eagles) would be interested in a reunion. However, Cabot points to said reunion being most likely to commence with Stefanski as the head coach.

McDaniels’ interview will occur Friday — two days after Schwartz’s and one day after Stefanski’s. A northeast Ohio native, the 43-year-old McDaniels has interviewed with the Browns twice before. He met with the Browns during previous owner Randy Lerner‘s tenure in 2009, but the team hired Eric Mangini. McDaniels withdrew his name from consideration after interviewing in 2014, when current owner Jimmy Haslam was in charge. The Browns conducted a lengthy search in 2014; McDaniels was once believed to be the favorite during that process as well. The Browns want to make their hire by Saturday, so second interviews do not appear to be on tap.

Here is where the Browns’ process stands as of Tuesday night, courtesy of PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.