At the midpoint of the season, it’s time to start speculating on who could finish as the NFL Coach of the Year.
Naturally, Cleveland Browns fans believe Coach Kevin Stefanski should be in the discussion.
They are right that he should be in the discussion.
However, he is not the perceived frontrunner.
Projected NFL Coach Of The Year
The current projected leader is Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
The Steelers are the only undefeated team in the NFL.
Big Ben has once again gone from injured in 2019 to rejuvenated in 2020.
The Steelers have found yet another rookie in WR Chase Claypool who has made an immediate impact on the team.
They have played smart, stayed healthy, and remained focused.
What Could Change?
The Steelers barely notched their 8th NFL win on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys before the troubles started.
TE Vance McDonald tested positive for COVID-19.
Because of their close contact, the following players who were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List on November 10 (in addition to McDonald).
The Steelers already had a bye week which was moved because of the Tennessee Titans situation.
Their bye was in Week 4 (instead of the scheduled Week 7).
The team plays a Bengals team this weekend who also has several players on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.
All this means that Coach Tomlin has a lot more work to do to earn this title.
If, and it’s still a big if at this point, the Steelers have a perfect season like the 1972 Miami Dolphins, Tomlin will be the unanimous choice.
What About Stefanski?
At this point in the season, Coach Stefanski would earn an honorable mention as NFL Coach of the Year.
He has taken a downtrodden organization (along with the assistance of GM Andrew Berry) and injected professionalism and preparation.
Hats off to Kevin Stefanski. Losing Nick Chubb this season and still being 5-2, having this team playing clean football. It’s nice to know the guys at the top are the right guys for once
— LeBear (@LeBear01) October 26, 2020
Berry commented on Stefanski’s demeanor recently.
“I think the most impressive part about Kevin is his poise. He is genuinely the same guy every single day, regardless of what has happened on Sunday and regardless of what we have dealt with during the day — even keel, same quick wit and sense of humor….I think that is the most impressive part because I think all of us … realize how hard and how stressful his job can be. I think our team is in about as good of hands as we can ask for with Kevin at the helm.”
Stefanski has seemingly won over the players, some of whom are seeing their 4th coach in 3 years (counting the interim coach).
He has done all of it in his rookie season in the midst of a pandemic where the traditional preseason preparations could not happen.
Kevin Stefanski at 5-2 is the only first year HC with a record of .500 or better.
The closest to him is Matt Rhule at 3-4.
The four other first year HCs have combined for 8 wins. Stefanski has 5 himself.
Cleveland is a playoff contender.
The Browns finally got it RIGHT. pic.twitter.com/5cf2isifgh
— Nick Karns (@karnsies817) October 30, 2020
Yes, Stefanski earns a mention in the conversation.
It’s not over yet, and if all goes well, Stefanski could finish as Coach of the Year.
By winning, of course.
That starts with the games the Browns should win and most definitely includes the games against those teams who have better records than they do, i.e. the Ravens and Steelers.
At 5-3, the Browns are definitely in the playoff hunt.
Getting to the playoffs and advancing through a round or so would definitely put him in contention.
One thing is for sure, Coach Stefanski does not care one little bit about finishing the season as Coach of the Year.
He wants to keep this team on its winning ways.