When he was hired a year ago, Kevin Stefanski became the Browns’ seventh coach in nine years, counting interim coach Gregg Williams in 2018. The change in coaches was a good indication of how bad the franchise had been.
They had not made the postseason since 2002. They had not had a winning record since 2007. They had not won a playoff game since 1994.
Yet, in Stefanski’s first season, the Browns went 11-5, earned a wild-card berth and beat the Steelers in a wild-card game.
That made Stefanski an easy choice for the NFL’s Coach of the Year award.
Stefanski and Brian Flores were neck-and-neck for the award heading into Week 17, but the Dolphins lost to finish outside the postseason and the Browns won to get into the postseason. That decided the award.
Stefanski received 25 of the 50 votes. Buffalo’s Sean McDermott (seven) and Miami’s Brian Flores (six) were second and third.
Stefanski is the first Browns coach to win the award since Forrest Gregg in 1976.
“We never concerned ourselves with the past; we are all about moving forward,” Stefanski told the Associated Press. “This season had its unique challenges and we focused on those each and every day and ultimately tried to put together a group of guys that would fight every single week, and I think we did that. But we were so focused on what we were doing in the here and now.”