CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns went with the decision to hire a rookie head coach when they reached a deal with longtime Minnesota Vikings assistant Kevin Stefanski as the next on-field leader earlier this month, but they have begun surrounding him with veteran coaches.
The Browns reportedly agreed to hire longtime NFL coach Bill Callahan to mentor the offensive linemen and potentially help coordinate the run game, and to former New England Patriots blocker turned sports commentator Damien Woody, the organization could not have made a better move.
“I think Browns fans should be ecstatic that they’ve got Bill Callahan on the staff, and he’s going to whip this offensive line into a unit that the Dawg Pound will be happy about,” Woody said on “The Bull and Fox Show” on Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan earlier this week.
“The experience and the background as a head coach, as a play-caller, assistant head coach, he’s done it all, so to offer that wealth of experience to Kevin Stefanski, who is in his first go-around as a head coach in the National Football League, that’s going to be a huge addition for him and his staff.”
Callahan brings with him to Cleveland 21 years of NFL coaching experience, including a two-year run as a head coach of the Oakland Raiders (2002-2003) and in an interim head coach role for much of the 2019 season after Washington dismissed Jay Gruden.
Additionally, Callahan has 19 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level, including a four-year stint as head coach at the University of Nebraska (2004-2007).
“I was fortunate enough during my 12-year career to have played under two of the best offensive line coaches,” Woody said. “My first five years, it was under coach Dante Scarnecchia with the New England Patriots, and then, my last three years with the Jets, I had Bill Callahan.
“I can say both of these young men were tremendous in my career with how they develop, how they teach, scheme. I can’t speak highly enough of Bill Callahan and what he meant to me in the last three years of my career.”
In his NFL career, Callahan has served as an offensive coach of the Philadelphia Eagles (1995-1997), offensive coordinator/coach of the Raiders (1998-2001, 2002-2003), assistant head coach/offensive line coach of the New York Jets (2008-2011), offensive coordinator and offensive line coach of the Dallas Cowboys (2012-2014) and Washington’s offensive line coach (2015-2017), as well as assistant head coach/offensive line coach (2017-2019).
As an NFL head coach, Callahan posted a 20-26 record (.435 winning percentage), but was 2-1 in postseason play with the Raiders, whom he led to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII. It was Oakland’s only Super Bowl appearance in their second tenure in Oakland.
“You don’t necessarily have to be the strongest,” Woody said. “It’s about your hands, your feet and your leverage. Bill Callahan is just a master technician in drilling these things down day after day after day and he is relentless in that. He will not stop. He’ll continue to do it every day, and to me, that’s what makes him special.
“He doesn’t let off of the little things and he’s player-friendly. What I mean by that is the things the offensive line does well, he’s going to stick with it. The things that the guys on that unit don’t do well, he’s going to throw it out. He’s going to put his guys in the best position to be successful.”