Browns coach Kevin Stefanski won the NFL coach of the year.
Kevin Stefanski became the first Browns coach to win the Associated Press’ NFL’s Coach of the Year Award since Forrest Gregg claimed the honor in 1976.
Stefanski had previously collected the award this offseason from the PWFA, in addition to the Sporting News, so it was a pretty safe bet the 38-year-old first-year coach was going to take home the hardware.
1. Whoops: The headline reads “Memorable,” not “Greatest,” so let’s get the bad out of the way. On the second drive of the season, with the Browns trailing the Ravens, 7-0 after a Baker Mayfield interception, Cleveland faced 4th and 4 from their own 31?
Punt. Easy call. Stefanski sent his punter out there…only to have him try and run for the first down. A fumble ensued. Yada, yada, yada, the Browns were blown out 38-6 and everyone started saying, “Here we go again.”
Stefanski said the onus was on him and it was onward toward the playoffs from there.
2. Grove found: The Browns weren’t just getting a calm, cool customer under the headsets, they were getting a savvy play caller who was supposed to resuscitate Baker Mayfield’s career after a forgettable 2019 campaign.
It wasn’t smooth sailing from the beginning, but the two really found their stride, particularly coming out of the bye. The duo put their might on display on Week 13 against the Titans, a team viewed as a playoff threat to the upstart Browns.
Mayfield recorded one of his best games as a pro, as every play Stefanski called in the first half turned to gold.
The Browns were so good, reserve offensive tackle Kendall Lamm even scored a touchdown! Stefanski had drawn up the play in the days leading up to the game.
3. Wild Win: The Browns didn’t just beat the Steelers for their first playoff win since 1994, they dominated their Turnpike rival–and Stefanski wasn’t even there.
Forced to watch at home because of COVID protocols, Stefanski’s team played the game of their life.
He wasn’t the only member of the team to miss the contest. Cleveland was missing several players because of COVID precautions, and very few members of the media were even willing to give the Browns a chance.
Talk of changing the culture and the losing stigma has long been a problem, but Stefanski’s influence undoubtedly played a role in keeping the Browns balanced, as the team put forth the greatest effort its fan had seen in 20 years.