When it comes to who will be calling plays for the Browns as the 2020 season begins, coach Kevin Stefanski is keeping his play sheet close to the vest.
Stefanski continues to decline to disclose the decision on who will call plays.
“We will announce that later,” Stefanski told reporters on Friday. “I promise you, you will know before the game.”
If we don’t know before the game, we’ll know during the game whether Stefanski is the one looking at the menu of plays and speaking into his headset the one that he wants the offense to deploy.
Whether to call offensive plays continues to be one of the biggest decisions to be made by any head coach who got the job based on his success as an offensive coordinator. The challenge becomes managing the micro focus of calling one play after another and weaving them into a broader chess match that eventually sets a defense up for potential kill shots based on plays used earlier in the game and handling the macro decisions like when to go for it on fourth down, when to use timeouts, when to challenge a potentially bad call, and how to navigate the clock, whether milking it when holding a lead or trying to drain every last second from it when trying to come from behind.
Some coaches can do it effectively. Some cannot.
Stefanski, who worked for the Vikings from 2006 through 2019, has relatively limited experience when it comes to calling plays. he took over the duties during the 2018 season, after coach Mike Zimmer fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
Browns defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who played for the Vikings in 2018, offered both praise and a whiff of constructive criticism for Stefanski’s late-season efforts in his debut as the playcaller.
“We had a little dry streak and Coach K took over and ended up revamping our offense,” Richardson told reporters. “Kirk [Cousins] and them got back rolling, and I think we ended winning like two or three games straight. Towards the end, guys picked up a little bit on the tendencies.”
So take it from Sheldon, Coach: If you’ll personally be calling the plays, make sure you don’t let the defenses pick up on your tendencies.