Coordinators – Alex Van Pelt (OFF), Joe Woods (DFF)
The Cleveland Browns have not had the best of luck with coordinators over the years but these two have been part of the team for three seasons now, and that’s pretty impressive considering the last decade(s) of the team.
Alex Van Pelt is a former quarterback turned quarterbacks coach who actually got Trent Edwards to look respectable in the NFL. That said, in his lone year with the Bills as their offensive coordinator, he was bad and the team was terrible. Van Pelt has not been much better since arriving in Cleveland, having a solid 2020 season but getting to avoid most of the blame for the team’s downfall thanks to Kevin Stefanski and Baker Mayfield being giant lightning rods of controversy. Van Pelt is in his last year with the team if they struggle again, especially if Stefanski won’t turn over the play-calling reigns.
As for Joe Woods, I think he’s safe regardless of what happens or at least should be. His defense isn’t very exciting and you need very unique and skill-specific guys to run his mostly coverage-based defense. Linebackers play a bit further back than in other schemes, he usually only rolls out two-linebacker sets, and the ends are a bit more off the shoulder than normal. It’s very much a “spread” defense. His scheme didn’t work in year one because he had a slower team. In year two, it looked much better. I’m surprised the team hasn’t brought back the Joe’s (Joe Haden and Joe Schobert) as they are great coverage guys and can really bring Wood’s defense to the next level.
Head Coach – Kevin Stefanski
Kevin Stefanski is on the hot seat. Everything that has been said about the failings of Freddie Kitchens can be said about Stefanski. Both men had a good-to-great first year in Cleveland but their offenses fell off as time went on. Both men lost the locker room and allowed anarchy to reign supreme. Both men didn’t know how to or decided not to, get the best out of Baker Mayfield.
Stefanski gets a pass because of Mayfield’s top villain status, however, but whether Deshaun Watson is gone a game, a season, or a lifetime, Stefanski can’t afford another losing season. He’s not reliable as a head coach, he lost control of Odell Beckham, he isn’t the most intune with what the team needs week to week and worst of all, his play calling is atrocious.
We’re not talking bad, we’re talking among the league’s worst. It isn’t just the Xs and O’s that make his play calling so bad, he puts the wrong players into the wrong situations. The one that always jumps out, on third and short, on a designed pass to the running back, Stefanski put in rookie Demetric Felton, instead of the “pass-catching running back” that is Kareem Hunt.
Felton drops a pass that would have been an easy first-down conversion. That isn’t the only time that type of substitution has failed Stefanki, it’s just the most readily remembered. He has a lot to prove as a head coach this year.