Phoenix teams are rarely discussed nationally, which usually doesn't serve the greater good of the Cardinals, Suns, Diamondbacks or Coyotes. But the national scrutiny of the Browns' latest coaching hire serves as a reminder that sometimes, quiet is better.
Kevin Stefanski is the new head coach in Cleveland, and he's already having to answer questions about whether he'll hand in gameplans to the Browns' analytics department. He had to address those questions, because reports surfaced before his hire that he'd have to inordinately seek the approval of an analytics department for major decisions. That idea stemmed from reports that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was not willing to acquiesce to Paul DePodesta and his minions.
But why does this stuff get out at all? Because there's interest in it. The Browns are a national story. Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., constant dysfunction and a rabid fanbase make for the perfect sports radio soup. So, when the Browns have a coaching vacancy, national outlets put their best reporters on it, local reporters dig up their best sources, and it's all consumed at a fanatical rate. If the public cares, the media shares.
Imagine then, if the interest in the Arizona Cardinals were that broad. This whole Kevin Stefanski saga got me to thinking, how much power does Kliff Kingsbury have? How beholden is he to an analytics department, or his GM and boss Steve Keim? We really only had one report on this, and it came from inside the Cardinals. Kyle Odegard reported in March, 2019 that analytics would, in fact, play a role in in-game decision making.
Yet, Kingsbury barely answered any questions about it. Stefanski's being treated like Nixon during Watergate. Perhaps that's not great, because questions can hold organizations accountable, but perhaps it is. Football's largely about eliminating distractions, and Kingsbury had the space to make mistakes in front of a largely un-prodding media. Even when things were bad, nobody was that hard on Kliff compared to other markets. And even those who questioned him never thought to ask about the analytics team behind the curtain who should or shouldn't be blamed. Kevin Stefanski won't have that luxury. The media will find a way to pit him and Paul DePodesta's analytics nerds against each other. Guaranteed.