Here’s a thought: What if there is nothing wrong with Kevin Stefanski as coach of the Browns that an image makeover can’t cure? Think about it. Stefanski is the embodiment of a quiet, warm and fuzzy coach in a sport filled with noisy renegades.
The warm and fuzzy approach is obviously not working and Stefanski probably has only one more year to prove he can ride this bronco. His players are clearly not responding to his style of leadership, so, as a last resort, why not try something drastically different?
The Browns’ head coach doesn’t need a defensive coordinator.
He needs an image coordinator.
He needs to forget about traditional sideline decorum. He needs to go rogue. His future as coach of the Browns could be riding on it. Here are some suggestions for the leader of the Browns to consider as a way of saving his job by changing his image:
- Legally change your first name from “Kevin” to “K-Dog!” (Don’t leave out the exclamation point. That’s important.)
- Shave your head bald, or (optional) leave a mohawk strip of hair down the middle.
- Sky-dive into the stadium for every home game.
- Walk the sideline during games with a pit-bull on a leash. If you feel you’ve been shortchanged by a bogus penalty call, yell at the offending official: “Don’t make me drop this leash!”
- If you win the pregame coin toss, when the official asks if you’re going to receive or defer, instruct your captains to say, “We’re going to pillage.”
- At least once a month: Get ejected from the game in the first quarter.
- Hire lawyer Tim Misny as a fourth-quarter sideline consultant and have him scream incessantly at your defense throughout the quarter: “MAKE THEM PAY!”
- Whenever your team plays Tampa Bay, dress like a pirate.
- On the back of your giant play card, the side that faces the field (and the TV cameras), print, in the largest letters possible, the words: “What Are You Looking At?”
- Whenever the opposing coach throws his challenge flag on the field, throw your challenge flag on the field and tell the officials you’re challenging the other coach’s challenge.
- At least once every game, throw your cap down and stomp on it.
- When the TV network sideline reporter asks you a question prior to the start of the game, reply by saying, “Who let you in?”
- At least once or twice every season, remain on the field during halftime and ask everyone you see, “Hey, when do the marching bands come out?”
- During some of the games in September, wear a tank top, shorts and flip-flops on the sideline.
- When you feel the officials REALLY blew a call, set fire to your challenge flag and throw it onto the field.
- When one of the officials announces that the previous play is under review, yell at him as loud as you can, “You over-officious jerk! My grandfather Marv Levy says hello!”
- Before every game, make sure you tell all the officials, “Don’t forget, I’ve changed my name to ‘K-Dog!’”
- Just for kicks, once a year during the game, wear the jersey of the opposing team.
- During a measurement for a possible first down, compliment the chain gang by saying, “Hey guys, good chaining! Have a cigar.”
- When shouting at an official on the field, always begin your protest with the words, “Hey you! Poindexter!”
The point of all of these suggestions is to get Stefanski thinking out of the box. He needs to become more animated, more verbose, more unpredictable.
He needs to become less Kevin and more K-Dog! More play-friendly, player-friendly and fan-friendly.
Who knows? Maybe he should make a movie, cut an album or dye his hair purple. Anything to get the attention off his players.
For example, has he ever thought of coaching a game while riding a horse on the sidelines? Probably not. We would have noticed that.
Mostly during games, Stefanski is a statue on the sidelines, staring at his play card. There is no style in that. There’s nothing there that grabs the attention of his team or his team’s fans. Nothing there excites either demographic into spasms of loyalty.
I’m no leader, but I would venture to guess that it’s hard to lead when you spend 3½ hours every Sunday as an emotionless sideline stool pigeon. And I mean that in a nice way.
I guess what I’m saying is that Stefanski never looks like he’s having fun coaching. That may be because he isn’t and that may be because his team is frequently losing, which might be because none of the players feel like they’re being led.
Coaching isn’t easy. It’s not for everyone. There’s a lot to the job, and not a lot who can do it well.
Those who can make it look easy.
Those who can’t better change their approach or start worrying about their image.