MINNEAPOLIS — This Sunday isn't just another game for Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski. He's coming home to the place his NFL coaching career actually took root.
Stefanski began his career as an administrative assistant with the Vikings in 2005 under Brad Childress, eventually working his way up to offensive coordinator before being plucked away by the Browns in 2019.
Along the way he earned a role as assistant quarterbacks coach, and would dabble with coaching tight ends and running backs as well before returning to coaching quarterbacks under current Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer in 2017. He became an interim offensive coordinator in 2018, and took over the full-time role in 2019 before getting his chance to lead the Browns, starting last season.
In his first year with Cleveland Stefanski led the Browns back to the playoffs and was AP Coach of the Year. He's happy how things turned out and is trying to downplay his homecoming this week, but acknowledges the experience and development he enjoyed with the Vikings.
"My whole time there was very impactful," Stefanski said during a press conference earlier this week. "It's a really well-run organization from top to bottom."
"Coach Zim, the way he runs his operation is very similar to the way we do things here. Coach Zim is very transparent, very blunt with players and coaches, you know where you stand, he's honest, he was certainly helpful to me as a young coach. I owe him a debt of gratitude."
The Vikings (1-2) take on the resurgent Browns (2-1) this Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Kickoff is scheduled for noon central time.