Will Kevin Stefanski continue to call plays for Deshaun Watson in 2023? Hey, Mary Kay!
CLEVELAND, Ohio — In today’s issue of Hey, Mary Kay! I answer Brown’s questions about Kevin Stefanski Calling Plays, John Johnson III and more.
Hello MaryKay: Will Kevin Stefanski be able to recognize that as a head coach he has to get more involved in the game and not call moves? — Bud Genovese. Santa Clara CA
Hey buddy: I believe Stefanski when he says he will be open to anything that helps the football team – including not taking play calls – but I firmly believe the plan for 2023 is for him to do the plays for Deshaun Watson calling in their first full season together. Watson has stated that he came here in part because of Stefanski and that he wholeheartedly believes in him in the role. I think the two will work hard to tailor the offseason game plan to Watson’s strengths and implement a retooled offense in the spring with more explosive downfield passes, better designed runs and more.
I think Watson will be very open about what he wants and needs and I think Stefanski will really value his input. Watson must not hold back or be afraid of rocking the boat. He needs to speak up now and will do so throughout the season. The Browns like this Stefanski-Watson pairing and are excited to see them play next season.
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Hello MaryKay: What is the probability of a contract restructuring of John Johnson III? Or alternatively, what is the compensation the Browns could get on a trade? — Conor, Belfast, United Kingdom
Hello Conor: I think there’s a possibility that the Browns are approaching Johnson’s agent about a reorganization to lower his $13.5 million cap for 2023, or are open to other possibilities, including a trade. I think part of that will depend on who the new defense coordinator is. If that person thinks he can get more out of Johnson and demonstrate his versatility more in 2023, then the Browns are more likely to make it work. A reorganization can be a win-win, with more upfront payments for Johnson and a lower cap for the Browns. I think he’s better than what he’s been able to show here so far. He’s also eligible on June 1 with a $9.75 million savings if fired afterward. I hope they keep him and find a way to settle it financially. He’s good on the field and in the dressing room.
Hello MaryKay: Do you have confidence that this front office will turn that around? When they were hired I was convinced that they would change the organization. Not so sure now! – Tom, Middlebury CT
Hey Tom: I have faith this front office can turn it around. You need to get the defense coordinator right first. It’s such an important position and the defense really needs a cultural overhaul from last season. After that, they need to add a savvy fast receiver, a new No. 2 edge, and top-notch defensive tackle. If they get these four things right, they’ll have what they need, especially with Deshaun Watson QB all season. An explosive passing game can undo many evils.
Hello MaryKay: Do you think the Browns would be willing to trade Wyatt Teller for a defenseman? The Browns found themselves in a similar situation in 2019 when they traded guard Kevin Zeitler to the Giants for Olivier Vernon. I think the Browns need immediate help on the defensive line and they may not be able to get what they need in free hands or in the draft and while I would hate to part ways with Wyatt Teller, the Browns could come by pocketing Michael Dunn or someone else on guard or by calling someone up in the middle rounds. – Steven C. Kettering, Ohio
Hello Stefan: The Browns consider Wyatt Teller a key element of their offensive line and one of the key protectors of Watson, their $230 million investment. I don’t think they would be willing to part ways with him to bring in a defender but they will always be open to any opportunity to improve the talent in this squad. I don’t see your proposal, but never say never. With no first-round selection until 2025, the Browns will need to be creative and resourceful over the next few years to attract elite talent.
Hello Teddy: Before the season, you said the Browns have a top 10 list in terms of talent. Have you grossly overestimated them or have they grossly underachieved? If it was the former, what fooled you? If it was the latter, who is to blame? – Tedd Wagner, Mentor, Ohio
Hello Teddy: I fully expected the defense to play better than last season and be a dominant force from the jump based in large part on their strong finish last season and the fact that so many young players are ready were about to make a big leap in their second season as starters. That didn’t happen for a number of reasons, including an early-season injury to linebacker Anthony Walker Jr., their signal caller and great defensive leader. Other injuries hurt the defense and players like Denzel Ward, who missed much of training camp with a hamstring injury, got off to a slow start.
Nor did I anticipate that Jadeveon Clowney — their No. 2 edge rusher and three-time Pro Bowler who defenders look up to — would be upset from the start and refuse to point to anything other than up in the 23-20 loss the Ravens for third place and missed his next start as a penalty. His dissatisfaction affected the defense, which loosened and only heated up at the end when it was too late. This is why hiring the new coordinator is so important.
Hello MaryKay: Brian Flores certainly seems like the right coach I’d like to see – tough, smart, responsible. Admittedly, I don’t know what his defense is. Can you give some insight? — Thanks, Dave in Denver.
hey dave Flores spent 11 seasons primarily as a defensive assistant under Bill Belichick in New England, where he won four Super Bowls, so he’s steeped in the Belichick defensive style. It’s traditionally a 3-4 scheme with an emphasis on setting the edge and forcing action inside the defense. It would require some really strong defensive tackles and possibly a change in philosophy and alignment up front. It also offers plenty of nickel and dime and backend versatility, which suits the Browns’ staff. Like Belichick, Flores uses multiple and unorthodox fronts, launching new looks every week to confuse an offense and test its adaptability.
Hello MaryKay: How do you think Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski will address the needs of our defense versus the importance of adding weapons for Deshaun Watson with limited money? — Jonathan, Akron, Ohio
Hello Jonathan: I keep saying the Browns need to add a skilled, fast receiver in the form of Tyreek Hill. You would probably have to find him in a trade or in the free agent market. But Berry pulled the Amari Cooper rabbit out of the hat last season, so maybe he can find another Pro Bowl-caliber receiver who needs a change of scenery. They should be able to find a good defensive tackle and edge rusher on the open market, but may need to move some money around their current roster to make that happen, including the possible restructuring of some current high-priced veterans. These are the three key elements: Fast Receiver, Edge Rusher, Defensive Tackle.
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