Browns’ Kevin Stefanski is coach of the year

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski looks on during the second half of an NFL football...
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski looks on during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)(David Richard | AP)
Published: Feb. 6, 2021 at 8:54 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - For turning around a moribund Cleveland franchise, overcoming injuries and COVID-19 concerns, Kevin Stefanski is The Associated Press 2020 NFL Coach of the Year.

The Browns snapped their postseason drought going back to the 2003 season by going 11-5 in the rugged AFC North, then beating Pittsburgh in the wild-card round before a close loss at Kansas City. Stefanski eliminated past attitude problems and locker room discord in making the Browns not only a contender this season, but a potential force in the future.

“We never concerned ourselves with the past, we are all about moving forward,” Stefanski said. “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.

Stefanski drew half of the ballots from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. That far outdistanced Buffalo’s Sean McDermott (seven) and Miami’s Brian Flores (six). He is the second Browns coach to take the award; Forrest Gregg won it in 1976.

With quarterback Baker Mayfield maturing into a solid leader and passer, a strong running game with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and an All-Pro edge rusher in Myles Garrett, Stefanski brought the Browns to relevance.

“I am so impressed by this organization, from top to bottom what they were able to accomplish given some of the circumstances,” Stefanski said. “And really the attitude every single day when people walked into this building, really it was a can-do attitude and we tried to find a way every day and every week under some unique circumstances.

“There was a lot of uncertainty, every morning you kind of woke up and waited for that phone call about how some things may be changing. We had to navigate through that. I think we got comfortable being uncomfortable because that’s what 2020 was all about.”

The winner was revealed on the NFL Honors television show.

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