Last week, Kevin Stefanski did something he'd never done before: Hired a coach without meeting him or her in person.
That coach was Jonathan Decoster, the Browns' new offensive quality control coach who went through multiple virtual interviews with Stefanski and a number of others before landing the job. Decoster and Stefanski got to meet in person for the first time last week and they're with each other every day now that Stefanski and his staff are back in the team facility.
What makes this notable is that's all Stefanski had to do on the hiring front this offseason. One year after putting together an entire staff after he became the Browns' new head coach, Stefanski had to address just one change to his staff — a miniscule number not just in comparison to recent Browns history, but also the general turnover most staffs around the league see on an annual basis.
Stefanski, in his meeting with reporters Tuesday, called it a "very, very big deal" and said he was "very proud" it happened.
"I think I am really excited I am sitting here on March 2 and our whole coaching staff is hired and we can go full speed ahead from a schematics standpoint of how we are putting this thing together," Stefanski said. "You hit the ground running this year, as opposed to last year, where you are coming up with different words you want to call things."
The Browns needed to fill an opening at offensive quality control after Seitu Smith took a job as the running backs coach at Yale University. Decoster, a former college offensive lineman who will work closely with the Browns' offensive line and tight ends, was officially named to the position Monday after spending eight years moving up the ranks at the collegiate level.
Stefanski understands this level of stability ultimately isn't sustainable in the NFL, especially if the Browns keep winning at the level they did in 2020. Eventually, Stefanski wants to see some of his assistants move on to bigger positions with bigger titles, and he's made it a priority this offseason to focus on the personal development for each member of his staff.
"I want each one of them to get better," Stefanski said. "We are going to spend some time in this offseason as it relates to professional development to make sure that we are giving all of our coaches every resource we can to help them become better coaches because it makes us better for the Browns and also it obviously improves their job."
To help further the development of some of the team's younger assistant coaches, Stefanski said he would have them spend time working at positions at which they don't have much experience. This was something Stefanski was exposed to during his lengthy stint in Minnesota, where he worked with nearly every position group on offense before becoming the team's offensive coordinator.
As an example for the Browns in 2021, Chief of Staff Callie Brownson will spend more time with RBs coach/run game coordinator Stump Mitchell, Stefanski said.
"As coaches, we have to get better," Stefanski said. "I have to be a better coach next year for this team, and that is my goal. We are working really hard to find different ways for each of us to get better. That is really the charge of what we have been working on the last few weeks."
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