Assessing the Cleveland Browns Coaching Staff for the 2021 NFL Season

By Dan Vasta in Sports
| August 25, 2021 12:25 pm PDT

The Cleveland Browns are on the verge of being relevant contenders for the Super Bowl with all the talent and momentum they have carried over from last season.

Baker Mayfield has made the necessary strides, and they arguably have the most talented team in the NFL at the line of scrimmage.

Myles Garrett is one of the better defensive ends in the league, and their entire offensive line could start anywhere. They have the most impressive group of talent seen perhaps in forever.

The coaching staff will be the ones in charge of mixing all that talent into a winning formula. They are among the favorites to win the AFC and contend with Kansas City and Buffalo. Luckily, Kevin Stefanski is off to a great start thus far.

What will the staff have in store for year two? Let’s assess what’s coming with my Cleveland Browns coaching staff analysis for the 2021 NFL season

Kevin Stefanski – Head Coach

The reigning NFL AP Coach of the Year is ready to flourish in the 2021-22 season with the Browns. Cleveland has talent on both sides of the ball, and they turned the corner last season in the first year with Stefanski leading the way.

He established a run-first offense that helped open up the offense. Just look at where they ranked in some key rushing categories in his first year on the job.

  • 47.78% rush play percentage (4th)
  • 4.8 yards per rush (7th)
  • 30.5 rushes per game (5th)
  • 145.2 rushing yards per game (4th)
  • 1.3 rushing touchdowns per game (5th)

Many coaches fail miserably in their first season at the helm, but the Browns made more strides last season than the previous few decades. Stefanski spent 13-plus seasons with the Vikings going back to 2006. He helped lead them to the NFC Championship game in 2017.

The lofty expectations for Cleveland are dangerous since this team has so much potential. Stefanski is off to a great start, and the coaches around him will put him in a prime position to improve upon last year.

Top Browns Assistant Coaches

The Cleveland assistants are under the radar since not many have been talked about to become future NFL head coaches.

Stefanski is on the fast track after coaching just one season with the Browns. The assistants have their work cut out for them, but it always takes a collective effort to find success.

Joe Woods – Defensive Coordinator

Joe Woods has coached in the NFL since 2004 and has paid his dues to land his second defensive coordinator job. Coaching defensive backs have been his specialty, and that is a glaring weakness of the Browns.

They had several injuries at defensive back. The inability to keep their starters on the field for the majority of 2020 was costly.

Woods will get improvement from that unit, but he has a plethora of talent at the line of scrimmage with Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.

The play of Greedy Williams, Greg Newsome, and Denzel Ward could determine their Super Bowl chances. Woods luckily has the talent to compete with anybody, and last season was a great starting point to a successful tenure under Stefanski.

Alex Van Pelt – Offensive Coordinator

Van Pelt has been coaching star quarterbacks since 2006. He has experience with the Bills, Buccaneers, Packers, and the Bengals. The ability to have a tremendous offensive line blocking for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt is a gift.

Jarvis Landry and a healthy Odell Beckham give Cleveland a balanced offensive attack. If Mayfield can remain as a consistent passer, the team could be impossible to knock off.

Now in his second season with the Browns, the offense should be clicking on all cylinders.

Other Browns Assistants

  • Callie Brownson: Chief of Staff
  • Bill Callahan: Offensive Line
  • Ryan Cordell: Coaching Assistant
  • C. McCartney: Offensive Assistant
  • Ashton Grant: Bill Willis Coaching Assistant
  • Jonathan DeCoster: Offensive Quality Control
  • Stump Mitchell: Run Game Coordinator/Running Backs
  • Chad O’Shea: Pass Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers
  • Scott Peters: Assistant Offensive Line
  • Kevin Rogers: Senior Offensive Assistant
  • Drew Petzing: Tight Ends
  • Stephen Bravo-Brown: Defensive Quality Control
  • Ben Bloom: Run Game Coordinator
  • Zach Dunn: Defensive Assistant
  • Jeremy Garrett: Assistant Defensive Line
  • Jeff Howard: Pass Game Coordinator
  • Jason Tarver: Linebackers
  • Brandon Lynch: Assistant Defensive Backs
  • Chris Kiffin: Defensive Line
  • Doug Colman: Assistant Special Teams
  • Mike Priefer: Special Teams Coordinator
  • Shaun Huls: Director, High Performance
  • Larry Jackson: Director, Strength & Conditioning
  • Evan Marcus: Assistant Strength & Conditioning
  • Dale Jones: Assistant Strength & Conditioning
  • Monty Gibson: Assistant Strength & Conditioning
  • Josh Christovich: Assistant Strength & Conditioning/Sports Science
  • Katy Meassick: Director, Performance Nutrition

The assistants report to coach Stefanski, and there are a few that are familiar names. Chris Kiffin is the brother of Lane and the son of Monte. Both have had their fair share of experiences in the NFL and college football.

Chris spent time with six different programs from 2005-17. We saw him at Idaho, Ole Miss, Nebraska, USC, Arkansas State, and Florida Atlantic.

The Cleveland defensive line coach has stars like Garrett and Clowney to carry the team. He saw them on opposing sidelines during his time coaching in the SEC, so it must be a great feeling to have the top stars on his side for once.

Bill Callahan is the offensive line coach and he has as much experience as anybody in the NFL seemingly for a non-head coach. He is the former head coach of Oakland and Washington.

Callahan started coaching in the NFL in 1995 and has been there for all but four seasons while coaching Nebraska.

There are plenty of experienced coaches here, which only adds to what Cleveland has at its disposal.

Cleveland Browns 2021 NFL Season Outlook

Before last season, Cleveland had not made an appearance in the postseason since 2002.

1994 was the last time they made it to the Divisional round. The previous AFC title game appearance was 1989, and it will be a realistic goal this season.

They have so many playoff droughts that they would like to end, none more important than winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history.

  • Last Super Bowl: Never
  • Last Division Title: 1989
  • Last 12-plus win season: 1986

Coach Stefanski executes the consistent offensive game plans that not every coach can. Van Pelt is the offensive coordinator, but Stefanski ultimately has the final say.

This team is a lock for double-digit victories if they stay away from the injury bug. They will continue to get better as a franchise with Baker Mayfield under center.

Mayfield has gone through a ton thus far, but they will be one of the favorites to knock off Kansas City. Stefanski has allowed this team to be dominant.

The future is bright, and Stefanski looks forward to the challenge of getting the franchise their first-ever Super Bowl.

Get to know other NFL coaching staffs from the AFC North.

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