Entering the 2020 NFL season, Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski had 33-1 odds to be named Coach of the Year. After 14 weeks and a 10-4 record, Stefanski now has 1.4-1 odds to win the award and he should be considered the front-runner.
Coach of the Year and similar awards can oftentimes be narrative-driven, and there is certainly a case there.
The Browns will finish with their first winning record since the 2007 season and with an 88.6% chance at the playoffs per Football Outsiders and 93% according to FiveThirtyEight, Cleveland is on pace for its first playoff appearance since the 2002 season.
While Stefanski’s work in his first year as a head coach has blown away all expectations, especially in relation to the Browns’ franchise history, his merits stand on their own outside of that.
In a year without a normal offseason or preseason to implement scheme, Stefanski has taken his role as head coach and offensive playcaller to immediately turn around the Cleveland offense.
Last year, the Browns ranked 22nd in yards per drive and 20th in points per drive. This season, the Browns are top-10 in both — eighth in yards per drive and seventh in points per drive.
VIDEO: Warren Sharp Breaks Down Stefanski for Coach of the Year
“Kevin Stefanski will be the 2020 NFL coach of the year… Nobody deserves this award more.”@SharpFootball has been blown away with how good Cleveland has looked this season under Stefanski. pic.twitter.com/Rm8NQHjquy
— NBC Sports Bet (@NBCSportsBet) December 22, 2020
Stefanski brought in his Kubiak-style wide-zone offense to the Browns after he worked wonders for Kirk Cousins with the scheme as offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings.
The play-action-heavy scheme has worked to help Baker Mayfield sit seventh in Expected Points Added among quarterbacks this season. Stefanski has also worked in his own design tendencies, such as using the quarterback on a bootleg to the left.
Mayfield has 44 designed rollouts to the left in 2020, the next-highest is 25 for Jared Goff. Those are how Stefanski has worked in designed shots into the offense. On those bootlegs to the left, Mayfield has averaged 10.3 yards per attempt.
This has come through adjustments and injuries along the offensive line and without receiver Odell Beckham for much of the season.
Cleveland still has a chance to win the AFC North, especially with a Week 17 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (27% per FiveThirtyEight and 16.2% per Football Outsiders), but even without a division title, what Stefanski has accomplished in his first year as a head coach in a season that should have been harder for first-year coaches should put him in position to be rewarded as the NFL’s Coach of the Year for the 2020 season.