While the 2020 schedule represents a break from the ’19 meatgrinder, especially early, coaching changes among opponents leave the new Browns coach in repeated battles against seasoned coaches with Super Bowl backgrounds.

The elephant in the room in this "schedule release week" is the skinniest man in town.

That would be Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, who takes the body of a marathon runner into a 16-game run whose coordinates were revealed Thursday night.

Stefanski's first game as a head football coach at any level, coronavirus allowing, will be played 129 days from now at Baltimore.

And there begins the story behind the story of the Browns' 2020 schedule.

Stefanski is third youngest among the 32 head coaches preparing for a mysterious season.

It remains to be seen, though, how the self-confidence and persona that got him hired will play against experience. The lineup of coaches he will face have a mountain of it.

Only one of the Browns' 16 games will be against a head coach (Joe Judge, Giants) who hasn't done this before. And by the time Stefanski shakes hands with Judge on Dec. 20 in Game 14, he will have revealed himself as ready, or not.

While Cleveland's 2020 schedule arguably is more friendly than was the 2019 slate, the coaching roster now lined up for Stefanski's perusal is stacked.

Six of the 10 head coaches among the Browns' first 10 opponents have led teams to Super Bowls. That list:

- John Harbaugh (season opener Sept. 13 at Baltimore) is in his 13th season with the Ravens. He won the Super Bowl in the 2012 season and had his 2019 team at 14-2.

- Ron Rivera (Game 3, home against Washington) was the man numerous Browns fans hoped would succeed Freddie Kitchens. Instead, Washington hired the 10th-year NFL pilot. Rivera's 2015 Panthers punished Bruce Arians' Cardinals 49-15 in the 2015 NFC championship game.

- Mike McCarthy (Game 4, at Dallas) put up a 135-85-2 record at Green Bay that included a win over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV. In his first year with the Cowboys, his staff includes former NFL head coaches Mike Nolan, Joe Philbin and Jim Tomsula.

- Mike Tomlin (Game 6, at Pittsburgh) is 13-0 against the Browns at Heinz Field. He is 1-1 in Super Bowls since replacing Class of 2020 Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Cowher. Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, whose father started for the Browns' 1964 NFL championship team, has been with Tomlin since the start.

- Jon Gruden (Game 8, home against the Raiders) grew up a Browns fan and might be laughing like Santa Claus about this one. It will be his first head coaching trip to Cleveland since Christmas Eve, 2006. That was four years after he piloted Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl win over the Raiders, whose head coach was Bill Callahan, now Stefanski's offensive line coach in Cleveland.

- Doug Pederson (Game 10, home against the Eagles) was hired as head coach the same year the Browns hired Hue Jackson. Jackson went 0-16 in his second season. Pederson won a Super Bowl in his. Pederson's defensive coordinator is Jim Schwartz, who was an NFL head coach for five years.

On the flip side, two of Stefanski's early tests (Game 2, Game 7) will be against the Bengals, who went 2-14 last season under first-time head coach Zac Taylor. The only head coach younger than Stefanski (turned 38 Thursday) and Taylor (turns 37 Sunday) is Sean McVay of the Rams.

Game 5 will be against Frank Reich (home against the Colts), who got the Indianapolis job in 2018 after Josh McDaniels opted out.

Generally, Stefanski will be up against head coaches who have had plenty of time to assemble programs, as opposed to wrestling with Zoom meetings during the COVID-19 nightmare.

Games 9, 11 and 12 will be against:

- Houston's Bill O'Brien, who has taken the Texans to the postseason in four of the last six seasons.

- Jacksonville's Doug Marrone, who was in his first full season when his Jaguars won the 2017 AFC South championship.

- Tennessee's Mike Vrabel, who embarrassed the Browns 43-13 in last year's opener and beat the Patriots and Ravens in the playoffs.

Stefanski's second shot at Harbaugh will be a Monday nighter in Game 13, in Cleveland. He will have been through quite a few experienced staffs when he goes against the Giants in Game 14, in New Jersey.

The Giants' staff is interesting enough. Judge worked the last eight years for Bill Belichick in New England. Judge's offensive coordinator is Jason Garrett, who spent nine full seasons as head coach of the Cowboys. His tight ends coach is Freddie Kitchens.

Game 15 will be against Adam Gase, in his second year with the Jets after going 23-26 in Miami.

Game 16 will be against Tomlin, whose defensive coordinator, Keith Butler, has been in Pittsburgh since getting fired by the Browns after the 2002 season.

For now, Stefanski isn't blinking. He is trying to pull things together without having his team in Berea for what normally would be spring practice.

"As coaches," he said, "we have blinders on."

Browns fans hope he can find his way against the eye-opening experience of facing staffs that have been through other schedules, with a fairly strong array of success.

Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or steve.doerschuk@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP