Potential Cleveland Browns Head Coaches
With all teams but one having a head coach, the Cleveland Browns now have their pick of the remaining field. This is more to help people realize who these candidates are and what they offer the Browns. With an already talented out roster, the Browns are one of the best situations you could want as a coach. Of course that’s only if you’re capable of handling the off-field antics that comes with this job.
One of the most-talked about candidates in relation to the Browns opening is current Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski. Stefanski interviewed for the Browns job last offseason, but was ultimately not hired in favor of Freddie Kitchens. Kevin Stefanski has spent the entirety of his coaching career with the Vikings and while we aren’t sure what he’d be like as a disciplinarian, we’ve got a decent handle on some of his coaching style.
Stefanski is someone who loves utilizing play action, and his teams are exceptional at it. Under Stefanski, Kirk Cousins just had a phenomenal year in which the play action was the most effective part of the passing game, which Baker Mayfield excels at. Stefanski knows how to scheme touches for his running backs, like he did so much this season with Cook and could do again with Nick Chubb.
The only candidate on this list that has NFL head coaching experience is current Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz. Schwartz spent five seasons with the Lions and finished with a record of 29-51 during his time there. Even though he didn’t win the game, he succeeded in making it to the playoffs once.
The Eagles defense has struggled mightily both this year and last but a huge reason for that is that the secondary has been ravished by injury. Schwartz has managed to change his play-calling and scheme multiple times throughout his career, but one thing remains: pressure. Pressure is a major factor of a Jim Schwartz-led defense. With players like Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon, Schwartz would let them pin their ears back and run.
There is one major question with the Browns and Schwartz. Could his personality co-exist with the other personalities in the Browns locker room?
One of the least-talked about names in this Browns head coaching search is Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll. Daboll has been an offensive coordinator with the Dolphins, Chiefs, and Alabama Crimson Tide, but he got his first OC job right here in Cleveland, Ohio in 2009.
Brian Daboll would be one of my favorite hires for the Cleveland Browns, primarily due to his innovativeness and ability to get guys the ball in space. Through the use of play-action (see: Kevin Stefanski), bunch formations, and pre-snap motions, Daboll knows how to get his guys in space and moving. Pairing that kind of play-calling with the playmakers this Browns team has offensively could lead to an instant top offense in the NFL.
Someone whose name has been brought up in what feels like every head coaching job since the dawn of time is New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels. McDaniels almost took a Head Coaching job with the Indianapolis Colts, but withdrew from contention and returned to New England.
Much like Stefanski and Daboll, McDaniels is a big believer in the play-action passing game. Notice a trend? One of the things that Josh McDaniels would probably introduce to Cleveland more than any other candidate would be the use of a fullback. Whether this is more of a Bill Belichick philosophy or not, McDaniels has used a fullback as a fullback more than just about anybody else in the NFL. The last time we saw Josh McDaniels as a head coach, he had Tim Tebow as his quarterback and it was a decade ago, so it’s hard to judge him based on that.
Eric Bieniemy is one of the more intriguing Browns candidates out there. Bieniemy is the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs but he’s largely calling plays created by Andy Reid. While that’s not to say that Bieniemy isn’t capable of creating his own offense, it does bring up the same point that was brought up when Matt Nagy left the Chiefs: Can he actually create and run an offense?
I do think that Eric Bieniemy would have one advantage over all the other Browns candidates: his playing experience. Bieniemy played in the NFL for nine years with the Chargers, Bengals, and Eagles. That experience would benefit him when dealing with the characters in the Browns locker room. Perhaps having that ex-player background would be more persuasive as to what players should and shouldn’t say to the media.
If Greg Roman wasn’t the offensive coordinator of a Super Bowl favorite, he might be a head coach somewhere. Roman’s scheme versatility and ability to innovate are his biggest positive traits as an offensive playcaller.
Whether it be with Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens, Greg Roman has shown the ability to adapt to his personnel as opposed to trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole. Roman would be a tremendous coach for the Browns given his experience. He has experience coaching quarterbacks (Baker Mayfield), tight ends (David Njoku), and the offensive line. The Browns having youth and potential at positions that Greg Roman knows how to Coach would be huge.
The final candidate is one that was rumored to do great during his interviews. San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh has been around the team for three seasons now, but his name has never been hotter. That makes sense when you consider the strides that the 49ers have made this past season.
While the defensive personnel has improved in San Francisco, arguably the biggest change made defensively is the switch from a Cover 3-based 4-3 to more of a Wide 9 Nickel look. Saleh has acknowledged that the team is in nickel far more than base defense, which is perfect for today’s NFL. It does make me wonder, whether or not Saleh would bring over the same Wide 9 as he’s been using in San Francisco or if he’d be willing to part ways with it.