CLEVELAND — When the Cleveland Browns announced Kevin Stefanski was their next head coach, he became the fifth man to be handed the on-field leadership of the franchise since the Haslam family purchased a controlling stake and were approved at a Fall Owners Meeting in Chicago in October of 2012.
Currently, the Browns are trying to find a general manager, while at the same time, building up a coaching staff and getting ready to send a contingent to Mobile, Alabama for the 2020 Senior Bowl, practices for which get underway on Monday.
All of that adds up to one thing in the mind of Houston sportscaster and former ESPN personality Sean Salisbury.
“This is a dysfunctional franchise, period, and with a fan base that I’m sure their heads are on a swivel like ‘When is this going to change?’” Salisbury said on “The Bull and Fox Show” on Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan earlier this week.
“Hell, this is a storied franchise, but think about how we talk about (Washington) with Daniel Snyder, think about how we talked about the Raiders in the past, and go around, there’s some dysfunction. This team is not only in the team picture, but they may be the one out front.”
Although Stefanski inherits a team much more talented than his predecessors experienced, especially with the presence of quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb, Pro Bowl-caliber wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry and standout defensive end Myles Garrett, it is not a perfect situation.
In the last five days, Beckham Jr. has been seen handing cash to LSU players after their National Championship Game victory, smacking a security officer on the backside while in the locker room and having an arrest warrant issued for him for the latter incident, while sparking a potential NCAA investigation for the prior.
Also, Garrett remains under suspension for a helmet-swinging incident that marred a 21-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on “Thursday Night Football” on November 14.
“Kevin Stefanski, aside from the Cowboys, he’s getting the cupboard that’s the fullest, and you could argue with the young talent, a cupboard that’s even more full than all of the new coaches who got jobs,” Salisbury said.
“We shouldn’t be talking about the Cleveland Browns this offseason talent-wise like this and the distractions first, but last year, the sideshow became more visible than the actual substance for the team. That’s got to be reversed.”
Stefanski takes over a team in need of discipline, as a lack of self-control helped derail the Browns’ once-promising hopes to break the NFL’s longest active playoff drought, which now stands at 17 consecutive years dating back to the 2003 season.
The Browns last qualified for postseason play during the 2002 season.
In addition to missing the playoffs for the 17th straight time, the Browns finished the 2019 season with a sub .500 record for the 12th consecutive year. The Browns last finished above .500 when they had a 10-6 record in 2007.
The Browns finished the year with the league’s sixth-most penalties, 122 infractions that cost the team 1,106 yards. Those 1,106 yards were the fourth-highest total in the NFL this past season.
“It’s a dysfunctional franchise and Kevin Stefanski, unfortunately, is coming in, at least early on, until he trims some of that fat that’s the problem, he is going to have to not only teach X’s and O’s, he’s also going to have to babysit,” Salisbury said.
“The sooner you can get the kids you’re babysitting to mature, where it’s peaceful and everybody’s hanging out, that’s exactly when the Cleveland Browns should take another step.”