First-year Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is the only logical choice to win Coach of the Year.
Kevin Stefanski is the best head coach the Cleveland Browns have had since Bill Belichick and the first-year head coach is still only 12 games into his debut season. That is how bad the Browns have been.
The franchise seemed cursed for two decades and Stefanski starting his tenure without a normal training camp or preseason seemed to be another bad omen. But the Browns are now 9-3 and poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Stefanski is the obvious choice for Coach of the Year.
Stefanski working wonders in Cleveland
Browns fans were scarred after the disastrous tenures of Hue Jackson and Freddie Kitchens. Stefanski reaching the nine-win mark is almost statue-worthy at this point. The last time the Browns even had a non-losing season came when the team went 10-6 in 2007. 2007!
He showed up at a pivotal point for the organization. Another regime change came following the 2019 season and Browns fans had seen the same story plenty of times in the recent past. Stefanski gave the usual coachspeak at his introductory press conference, just like they all have.
Then something crazy happened. The Browns started winning, Baker Mayfield bounced back after a ton of regression in 2019, and the head coach has not provided the local media with any drama to talk about. What a wild concept in Cleveland.
Of course, four straight losses to close out the season would hurt his chances of winning Coach of the Year. That just doesn’t seem possible at this point, and more than just because the Browns still have to play the New York Jets.
Past Browns head coaches have had teams filled with talent, only to fail to bring everyone together to actually win. Stefanski has shown up, eliminated distractions, and installed a culture of winning for a franchise that did anything but that since returning in 1999.
All Browns fans have wanted since 2002 is another shot in the postseason. A 9-3 start for a first-year head coach is a sign of changing times in Cleveland and that is all thanks to the work of Stefanski.
Sure, Mike Tomlin getting his team off to an 11-0 start is impressive. The same is true for Sean Payton leading the New Orleans Saints to the top of the NFC without Drew Brees for all of the season. But those coaches have installed a system that resembles a dynasty. The Browns have been a total mess and Stefanski has turned an entire NFL organization around in a matter of months.
It would be a shock if the Browns make the postseason and Stefanski isn’t a near-unanimous selection for Coach of the Year. Some voters may just be too shocked to realize what has gone down in Cleveland in 2020.