Browns will miss Stefanski’s regular hand

Peter King analyzes the Browns’ loss of head coach Kevin Stefanski and four other members of the organization to COVID and explains how Cleveland will attempt to overcome this setback ahead of the AFC Wild Card matchup against the Steelers.

Video transcript

PETER KING: I am Peter King. Big story in the NFL midweek, obviously, how are the Cleveland Browns going to deal with the loss of Kevin Stefanski as head coach? Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19 after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. He’ll be out for at least 10 days, which will affect preparation when the Browns beat the Steelers on Sunday night in Pittsburgh.

I think there are two really big problems here. And I’ll bury the lead a bit to get started. One issue is the other loss from COVID, Joel Bitonio, who is the Cleveland Browns’ left guard. You know, he’s one of the spiritual leaders on this team.

So much so that Kevin Stefanski passed a few game balls after the Browns qualified for the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. The first was Joel Bitonio because Bitonio was a veteran of Teams 0 and 16 and 1 and 15 Browns just three and four years ago. And that’s a guy that Kevin Stefanski and the entire organization have really come to love. And so I think his loss on offense in a game where Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are vital to the Browns’ odds of winning is enormous.

As for the loss of Stefanski, it’s pretty logical to believe that Alex Van Pelt, who is Baker Mayfield’s right-hand man, is pretty obvious that Van Pelt is going to start the offense in this game, and essentially take over many tasks that Stefanski has.

But the only thing I noticed about the Browns this year, and what I think they’ll really miss, is the calm, cool hand of Kevin Stefanski. You won’t have any incidents like in the Cleveland-Pittsburgh game last year, Myles Garrett, Mason Rudolph in the brawl on the field. You won’t have that because the Browns are a different team, a different organization with a different culture. So I think that his steady hand will be missing in times of crisis in the football game on Sunday evening. And the Cleveland Browns can do absolutely nothing about it. They don’t postpone the game until Kevin Stefanski is ready. It’s a COVID season and the Cleveland Browns will only have to worry about it.

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