The Cleveland Browns are 9-5 despite losing a ton of talented players. A lot of credit goes to HC Kevin Stefanski and the veteran leadership on the field. The team is not void of talent as key players like WR Amari Cooper and TE David Njoku have been consistent on offense while DE Myles Garrett and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah have excelled on the other side of the ball.
This offseason saw a lot of veterans added to the defensive side of the ball. Unlike in the past, those veterans can still play but their leadership was also valued. DT Dalvin Tomlinson, DE Ogbo Okornkwo and safety Juan Thornhill.
Now, due to injuries, QB Joe Flacco stepped in as both a veteran who can play and a leader. The first part was in doubt after years of poor play with the New York Jets while the latter was unknown to most Browns fans.
Cleveland’s season has been the epitome of Peter Drucker’s management quote:
Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
According to Owusu-Koramoah, that culture started in training camp where Stefanski took the team away to really grow the togetherness at The Greenbrier in West Virginia:
That is one hell of an answer from JOK on what is driving their success despite the setbacks with injuries in 2023. Mature response with all the things you want to hear about a different Cleveland Browns culture. pic.twitter.com/7FzGcQ6Vve— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) December 19, 2023
While the word “analytics” is thrown around a lot when talking about Cleveland’s front office and coaching staff, this offseason proved they valued things that can’t be counted. Things like “Culture,” “Togetherness,” “Brotherhood,” “Creeds” and “Toughness” can’t be measured but they are very clear.
The Browns culture has Stefanski in a place few would have ever imagined when he was hired and even less so with all of the injuries this year. Cleveland’s head coach is the first since Marty Schottenheimer to have two winning seasons in his first four years with the team.
At this point, Stefanski is four wins away from having the sixth most wins in team history and just 10 games behind Bill Belichick. Sometime next season, Stefanski could pass Schottenheimer’s 44 victories and sometime the following year (barring going undefeated between now and then) pass Sam Rutigliano for third in team history.
The Browns culture has eaten everyone else’s strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. How far that culture, Stefanski’s strategy and the talent left on the field can take the team in 2023 is still to be decided. For now, Cleveland can celebrate what they have right now and look forward to what is to come.