Browns' analytics department played a significant role in the hiring of Freddie Kitchens
The Browns ultimately chose the model that's all the rage these days, a younger offensive coach with play-calling experience
The Browns relied on a large contingent to handle their latest coaching search, a group comprised of ownership/family, football operations and analytics, with that final department playing no small role in the decision to decide between rookie play callers Freddie Kitchens and Kevin Stefanski, sources said.
Despite Browns owner Jimmy Haslam firing much of his previous staffs and reorganizing his front office in various ways over the years, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, a longtime baseball executive who spends most of his time in California, and Andrew Berry, vice president of player personnel who was brought in by DePodesta, both played a pivotal role in this decision. They are very highly thought of by Dee Haslam, they played a critical role in vetting candidates, and their studies on the various candidates were also central to the process, sources said.
General manager John Dorsey was the public face of the search, and the point-man for the process, but the Browns team of interviewers included more Haslam family members than football people brought in by Dorsey and much of the group was comprised of individuals who had never been a part of a successful coaching search in the past.
The Browns ultimately chose the model that is all the rage in the NFL these days – a younger offensive coach with at least some experience coaching quarterbacks and calling plays. Kitchens' quality work with rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield since taking over play calling after the firing of coach Hue Jackson and coordinator Todd Haley, and the team's reluctance to lose him to another franchise as their offensive coordinator, carried significant weight in the process. But the analytics side of the building championed his merits as well as those of Stefanski, who took over play calling duties in Minnesota in December after never having done so before.
Stefanski was not considered for other head-coaching opportunities and re-signed with the Vikings as their offensive coordinator after the Browns hired Kitchens. The analytics department in Cleveland – even with former general manager Sashi Brown, who championed their rise, long gone – remains a strong force in that organization with a direct line to ownership, sources said
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