CLEVELAND — Over the course of his three seasons as the Cleveland Browns' head coach, one of the most common criticisms of Kevin Stefanski is that he doesn't do a good enough job "establishing the run."
Appearing on Barstool Sports' "Pardon My Take" on Wednesday, Stefanski was asked about his offensive philosophy when it comes to balancing running plays vs. passing plays.
"That's a fallacy," Stefanski said. "You don't have to establish the run to throw."
Pressed on the matter, the 2020 NFL Coach of the Year elaborated: "I think play-action has been proven that you don't need to have a good running attack or be running the ball to get the linebackers and safeties up."
After the PMT hosts accused Stefanski of reading "the nerd website," Stefanski replied: "There's a lot of good data behind it."
To Stefanski's point, as far back as 2003, studies by websites such as Football Outsiders have shown that running the ball early -- or "establishing the run" -- doesn't correlate with winning football. Studies by Pro Football Focus and The Athletic, both performed in 2019, found similar results, with PFF publishing a video titled "Why establishing the run doesn't matter."
That's not to say, however, that Stefanski doesn't value running the ball -- in fact, he said that just like many Browns fans, his favorite player is Nick Chubb.
"I think the fun part for us is running the ball in the fourth quarter when you have that lead and you can go lean on people, which not many teams have that luxury," Stefanski said.
But when it comes to the idea that Cleveland needs to get its start running back X amount of carries to guarantee a victory, Stefanski doesn't buy in.
"They said, 'when Nick Chubb rushes the ball this many times, you win,'" Stefanski recalled. "I'm like, 'we should start the game with 24 straight Nick rushes and see what happens. We might be down by a couple of scores, but..."