LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WJW) — There have been mixed reactions to the Browns hiring Kevin Stefanski as their new coach, both on social media and amongst local bar-goers. However, most of the people we spoke with say they’re remaining cautiously optimistic.
“I’m numb from all this,” said Robert Kibort.
The Cleveland Browns have chosen their 18th full time coach in franchise history and 12th since 1999. Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski is replacing recently fired Freddie Kitchens.
As loyal Browns fans gathered at Merry Arts Bar in Lakewood to watch the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, their minds were on what this new coach could mean for a team that didn’t make it that far this season.
“I was happy with the hire for the most part but I really don’t think they will be successful as long as Jimmy Haslam still owns the team,” said Zachary Schwab.
“First things first, winning culture, playoffs Super Bowl. I’m not sure if this gentleman can do it but we really hope he can,” said Mark Mraz.
While he has been with the Vikings since 2006, 37-year-old Stefanski has never been a head coach.
“Since he is the new guy, he has a lot to get used to really quick,” said Mraz.
Several other candidates met with owner Jimmy Haslam for the job.
One of them was Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels who grew up in Northeast Ohio.
“I was hoping that they would get Josh McDaniels cuz he’s from John Carroll,” said Kibort.
"Honestly I was excited it was him [Stefanski] and not McDaniels. I trust DePodesta and I think it was his guy," said Schwab.
Stefanski had been interviewed for the job twice last year under rumors he was the preferred choice of Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta.
Overall, fans say they hope for stability.
”What drives me crazy is now Baker Mayfield’s had four head coaches, three offensive coordinators, a quarterback’s coach who never was a quarterback's coach. So I hope it’s different,” said Kibort.
"Well, I think committing to the run will help Baker and I think just building around Chubb is what Stefanski will do and I think that will help Baker out in itself,” said Schwab.
Fans are hoping for stability for both the players and themselves.
”They want to be behind a new guy but they want him for the next five or 10 years,” said Mraz.
“I've thought ’this was the guy’ every time we've hired a guy so I‘m hopeful but we'll see,” Schwab said.