Should the Vikings regret not making Kevin Stefanski their head coach?
By Adam Patrick
Former Minnesota Vikings assistant Kevin Stefanski is succeeding as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Prior to their first-round playoff matchup against the New Orleans Saints last season, there were a number of rumors surrounding the Minnesota Vikings in regards to the future of Mike Zimmer as the team’s head coach.
As Zimmer was preparing the Vikings for their third postseason appearance since he arrived in 2014, rumors about his potential departure were being spread around the internet.
According to one rumor, Minnesota was going to possibly fire Zimmer and replace him with offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski if the team was unable to get a win in their playoff contest against the Saints. Well, the Vikings ended up getting the upset victory in New Orleans and a few weeks ago, Zimmer was given a multi-year contract extension.
Did the Minnesota Vikings make a mistake by letting Kevin Stefanski leave?
Shortly after Minnesota’s eventual playoff exit last season, Stefanski decided to leave the Twin Cities for the opportunity of a lifetime. The longtime Vikings assistant was hired to be the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Stefanski had spent more than a decade with Minnesota and some felt the team would have been better off making him their head coach in 2020 regardless of how they performed in the playoffs last season. Obviously, that didn’t happen and after just four games this year, it’s understandable to question if the Vikings made the right decision.
As Minnesota currently sits with a 1-3 record, Stefanski has led the Browns to a 3-1 record for the first time since 2001. The former Vikings assistant has Cleveland winning thanks to a dominant rushing attack, an efficient passing game, and an opportunistic defense.
Now, there is still plenty of time for things to head in the opposite direction for both the Browns and Vikings. But so far, Stefanski is proving to be a great hire for Cleveland.
Given his success with the Browns so far this season, some have to be wondering how Minnesota would be performing this year if Stefanski was the team’s head coach and not Zimmer.
At the same time, Cleveland and Minnesota have roster and salary cap situations that are completely different from each other. The majority of the Browns 2019 roster returned for the current season while the Vikings have dealt with a tremendous amount of turnover during the past year.
Who is to say that Stefanski would do any better than Zimmer with all the personnel changes Minnesota has experienced since the end of the 2019 season? Someone with actual head coaching experience probably has a better shot at being successful with a team like the Vikings and all of their new faces over a rookie head coach.
So while it’s easy for some to look at Cleveland and Minnesota this season and believe that Stefanski is doing a better job than Zimmer. This is still a hard conclusion to reach since, one, both teams have only played four games and, two, the current situations for each franchise are significantly different.