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Browns awards: Pro Football Talk hands out 2 to Browns coaching staff

Respected sports site has their own assessment

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame-New York Jets at Cleveland Browns Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Talk (PFT) is one of the online sports sites that folks in the business of discussing professional football view as people in the know. They are respected, knowledgeable, and consistent with their analysis and thoughts. (Editor’s Note: Most of the time but not everyone is universally loved like DBN!)

With the NFL regular season over and the NFL playoffs upon us, like most outlets, PFT has started giving out its end-of-season awards.

On Thursday, they announced their in-house award for this year’s NFL Coach of the Year: Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski.

Mike Florio of PFT on Stefanski:

“In past years, we’ve determined our awards with input from the writers and then, in the end, yours truly would make the final call, even if it went against the weight of the other contributors to PFT. This year, I respected the process of a full vote of all five PFT writers, even if it went against my own assessment. For most awards, it didn’t matter. For this one — and without disclosing my own personal AP awards ballot as to coach of the year — I’ll just say it might have.”

Stefanski’s Cleveland Browns won the AFC’s highest Wild Card seed with several weeks left in the season. This was a year when a large sector of his starting roster eventually found the IR list their permanent home. Players such as RB Nick Chubb, starting QB Deshaun Watson plus backup QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, three offensive tackles in Jack Conklin, Jed Wills, and Dawand Jones, the team’s leading tackler in S Grant Delpit, starting MLB Anthony Walker, speedy return man Jakeem Grant, kicker Dustin Hopkins, gap plugging DT Mo Hurst, and veteran on-field coach S Rodney McLeod.

A total of 15 players are gone for the year, while others have been listed on IR throughout the season and returned. This adversity, the #5 seed, the franchise making the playoffs, starting five different quarterbacks, plus going from a seven-win season to 11 games this year were most of the reasons PFT chose Stefanski. He surely deserves an extension.

And another huge aspect was the Stefanski hire of Jim Schwartz as his defensive coordinator.

Florio added:

“It helped to have a dominant defense, led by veteran coordinator Jim Schwartz. It was obvious from Week 1 that the defense would be dominant. And it is. And Stefanski hired him.”

New York Jets v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Schwartz has been selected by PFT as their NFL Assistant Coach of the Year.

He made Cleveland’s defense into one of the finest in the league. The performance of this group kept the Browns in many games which ended the season with 11 wins.

Almost every defensive category had the Browns in the Top-5 including the top spot for average yards per game with 270 yards per game, 20 yards per game less than the second-place Kansas City Chiefs. They gave up the second-fewest passing yards (3,149), third-most interceptions (18), #1 in passes converted for first downs (136) and fewest completions (307), and a Number 1 ranking in lowest completion percentage (57.4%).

Florio noted Schwartz’s success:

“The Browns are indeed the Browns. This year, they’re one of the best teams in football — because they have perhaps the very best defense. And Schwartz deserves plenty of credit for that.”

Tied for second in the PFT voting for Assistant Coach of the Year were Ravens OC Todd Monken and Ravens DC Mike Macdonald. Also getting votes were Lions OC Ben Johnson, Texans OC Bobby Slowik, 49ers DC Steve Wilks, Rams DC Raheem Morris, and Cowboys DC Dan Quinn.

Each of these coordinators, including Schwartz, has already been mentioned as a possible NFL head coaching candidate for the eight open jobs.

The runner-up to NFL Coach of the Year was Houston Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans. Coincidentally, the Browns are pitted against the Texans this weekend.

In their first matchup during the regular season, Cleveland dominated although Houston did stage a late comeback that fell two scores short. However, the Texans did not have their starting QB C.J. Stroud who is a very talented player. Stroud will play on Saturday.

Cleveland Browns v Houston Texans
Stefanski and Ryans
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Other head coaches who received votes include Dan Campbell - Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams, the Buffalo Bills’ Sean McDermott, and Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur.

The official NFL Coach of the Year Award is presented annually by the Associated Press to the coach adjudged to have had the most outstanding season. This award began in 1957 and this year’s recipient has not yet been named.

RELATED: DIVING INTO THE CANDIDATES FOR 2023 NFL COY

Back in those days, whichever team won the championship their head coach was named Coach of the Year. In 1974, that changed to the coach who did the most with the least and made a winner out of an ailing roster.