It was the start of the fourth quarter in the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos game on Sunday. The Browns were mounting a second-half comeback, and it seemed like the Kardiac Kids 2.0 would get another late-game victory, after trailing 17-12 in the game.
However, the team had their starting quarterback Dorian Thompson Robinson (DTR) just get injured and concussed on a couple of plays earlier and the Browns turned to their backup quarterback P.J. Walker to help out. Instead of giving Walker an opportunity to orchestrate a Cleveland comeback, the Browns coach Kevin Stefanski decided to call his standard trick play with a double reverse. Stefanski has called this play many times this season but has yet to be successful.
Again, this play call backfired as the ball was fumbled in the exchange between the two Browns players and the Broncos recovered the football deep in Cleveland territory ending any legitimate chance of the team getting the comeback win.
Some proponents of Stefanski and his coaching will immediately go to the argument that the players didn’t execute the play well and thus the misfortunes of the play were on the shoulders of the players and not the coach.
This topic debate of Stefanski’s play calling has been brought up repeatedly in the four-year coaching tenure of the coach by the Browns fanbase. Neither side wants to budge, and both think they are right.
I’ve been both a supporter and non-supporter of Stefanski’s play calling over this time. In this specific case, the “cuteness” and “trickery” that Stefanski yet again tried to show was not necessary in this moment.
His team had been having success running the ball the few times they did in what was a pretty close game. For the game, the Browns ended up throwing the ball 42 times and only ran it 16 times between their running backs Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt.
On the podcasting network for the Browns that I’m part of called the Fanatical Elfz Network, one of my colleagues used the word “desperate” in how Stefanski likes to call games at times. And in this case, Stefanski again coached desperately, like he was down three touchdowns and needed to score four touchdowns immediately.
It’s as if Stefanski feels he has to get cute with his play calls to draw headlines. He has good running backs and a pretty solid offensive line and yet he tries to go away from his team’s strengths.
Hopefully, Stefanski will continue to get better and learn a lesson or two after these moments. Coaches generally are trying to learn from their mistakes, and I’ll give Stefanski a bit of a break, but if we see him try that double-reverse again any time soon then maybe he can double-reverse himself out of Cleveland.
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