Browns Eye Berry For Front Office After Hiring Stefanski As Coach
The Browns have "requested permission" to interview Eagles VP/Football Operations Andrew Berry for their open GM position after yesterday hiring Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as coach in a move that would help "achieve that elusive organizational alignment" Browns co-Owner Jimmy Haslam is seeking, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Berry formerly served as VP/Player Personnel for the Browns, and he "would pair well" with Stefanski, as the two got to know each other during the Browns' coaching search last year. Berry also is a "long-time favorite of Haslam" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/13). In Akron, Nate Ulrich noted Berry had been "expected to emerge" as a GM candidate since the Browns parted ways with former GM John Dorsey on Dec. 31. Berry has "huge fans in Browns ownership who didn't want him to leave" for the Eagles role last February (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 1/12). In Ohio, Jeff Schudel in a front-page piece notes luring Berry back to Cleveland is the "only missing piece now" in the Browns' offseason plan (Willoughby NEWS-HERALD, 1/13).
LIVING IN THE LIMELIGHT: The PLAIN DEALER's Cabot notes Stefanski will be the fifth coach hired by the team since the Jimmy and Dee Haslam bought the team in '12. Browns Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta, who "ran the search this year, favored Stefanski last year, but was overruled by former GM John Dorsey." A source said that the search "came down to two finalists," Stefanski and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. But Cabot notes with DePodesta "driving the bus, he didn't let Stefanski get away this time." Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was "flown into Cleveland on Friday on Haslam's private jet along with his wife, Laura, but left without a contract after seven hours." A source said that the Browns were "not open to McDaniels having a large say in the hiring of his GM," and that they "didn't put in a request to interview" Patriots Dir of Pro Personnel Dave Zeigler for the GM vacancy (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/13). In Canton, Steve Doerschuk notes Stefanski was "familiar with the room, especially" Jimmy Haslam and DePodesta. Stefanski "made it clear he was willing to yield to certain DePodesta standards, such as an analytics person with a head set and access to the coaching staff on game days," in addition to "certain Haslam likes, such as hours-long, Monday-after, owner-coach meetings" (Canton REPOSITORY, 1/13).
INSTILLING CONFIDENCE: In Akron, Marla Ridenour in a front-page piece writes Haslam by hiring Stefanski "showed how much he values" DePodesta. Haslam listened to DePodesta, who "currently has his ear." Ridenour: "Considering Haslam's history of disastrous choices, that seems like progress" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 1/13). In Cleveland, Dan Labbe writes Haslam "made it clear" DePodesta was going to lead the hiring process, and Stefanski's hiring is "as clear an indication the Browns, this time, stuck to their process." The Browns "appear on the path to alignment because they decided to put the hiring process in the hands of DePodesta and they are following his lead" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/13). THE ATHLETIC's Jason Lloyd wrote Haslam is "following DePodesta's orders," and given a re-do after last year's Freddie Kitchens hire, Haslam "chose to listen to perhaps the smartest person in the building. Lloyd: "That's usually sound advice" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/12). YAHOO SPORTS' Charles Robinson writes Haslam for the first time is "trying to engineer a structure where the head coach, general manager and chief strategist are not only on the same page, but are carrying the same book and speaking the same kind of football language." Robinson: "That is what this hire is about: Locking the braintrust together rather than incentivizing rivalry" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/13). ESPN.com's Jake Trotter wrote the Stefanski hire is a "victory" for DePodesta (ESPN.com, 1/12).
MCDAN-NO: CBSSPORTS.com's Jason La Canfora cited sources as saying Patriots coach Bill Belichick "refused to allow" McDaniels to "move up his scheduled interviews with teams interested in him as a head coaching candidate to the start" of last week. The sources added that Belichick "pushed special teams coordinator Joe Judge" for the Giants' coaching vacancy and "greenlit" a interview for him last Monday. La Canfora noted Belichick and Patriots Owner Robert Kraft have "long been worried about losing McDaniels," as is "well documented." Belichick has a "reputation for being difficult to work with when it comes to other teams looking to hire an assistant he does not want to lose" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/11). In Boston, Ben Volin writes McDaniels is "fortunate to have a golden parachute -- a well-paying job" as Patriots OC, but his "image, and his ego, have taken a massive hit over the past couple of weeks as he was passed over for head coaching jobs for the second straight year." Last year, only the Packers were willing to interview McDaniels, and he "finished third." This year, he again "only got one interview" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/13).