#Browns Kevin Stefanski voted NFL Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) January 21, 2021
Stefanski earns the honor after being the mastermind behind an unforgettable season for the franchise.
The Browns, under Stefanski’s tutelage, made the playoffs for the first time in 18 years.
They also won their first playoff game since 1994.
He becomes the first Browns head coach to win the PFWA award since Marty Schottenheimer in 1986.
Stefanski Turns Browns Around
Stefanski joined the Browns this past season after serving on the Vikings coaching staff.
He made an instant impact on the organization.
The #Browns have a bright future. ✨
Baker Mayfield finished the year as @PFF's 8th ranked QB.
Rookie HC, Kevin Stefanski, led the team to the Playoffs and is the front runner for Coach of the Year.
— The Hottest Take Sports Podcast (@Hottest_TakePod) January 18, 2021
His 11 wins were the most by any first-year head coach in the NFL this season.
They were also the most by a first-year Browns head coach since the team’s inaugural season in 1946.
It was also the first time the team registered double digit wins since the 2007 season.
Stefanski served as the team’s offensive play-caller, overseeing the franchise’s best offense in years.
He adopted a ground and pound style of offense that wore opposing defenses down.
They did this using a dual threat backfield with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
This led to the Browns finishing third in the league in rushing, averaging 148.4 yards per game.
On top of that, the improved running game opened up more opportunities for QB Baker Mayfield.
In his third season, Mayfield took the next step in improving his game.
Him and Stefanski quickly developed a bond that translated onto the field.
Mayfield appeared more collected and stronger in the pocket, delivering accurate throws while limiting the errors.
This culminated into a Browns offense that was clicking on all cylinders by the end of the season.
In all, it was a major step forward for a Browns team that won just six games under previous head coach Freddie Kitchens.
Browns Break Playoff Drought
Making it to the playoffs was a significant achievement for Browns fans everywhere.
It was a statement that shows how the franchise is there to compete once again.
This mentality started from Stefanski this season, who altered the culture of the team.
“You got more in you?”
“Good, because I’m going to need it.” pic.twitter.com/SFDYji9QNF
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 3, 2021
The culture became even more evident as the team made it into the playoffs amid a COVID outbreak on the team.
Stefanski missed the Wild Card game due to testing positive, but the team still played inspired football.
They were clearly prepared for the challenge.
This led to them easily handling the rival Steelers 48-37, setting up a Divisional round matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
While they struggled at times against the NFL’s best team, they put together a second half comeback that nearly won them the game.
They came up just short, losing 22-17.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 17, 2021
However, it showed how far the team had come under Stefanski.
It is something that, though disappointing at first, bodes well for the future.
“Looking back on the season, as we all do when the finality of this thing and it is over, I think we definitely achieved a lot,” Stefanski said Monday. “We did some things we set out to do, but ultimately, we came up short and there is a very real sense of disappointment there among our players and coaches right now. We can definitely look back and see some things that we accomplished and be proud of that.”
Stefanski is deserving of this honor, and it will be interesting to see what he can continue accomplishing with the franchise.