Cleveland Browns: Kevin Stefanski didn’t get enough credit in coach rankings
Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was named to Pro Football Focus’s NFL’s best head coaches list. However, he was ranked far too low on the list.
Pro Football Focus recently released their list of the best head coaches in the NFL. After only one season of being a head coach, Cleveland Browns shot-caller Kevin Stefanski already cracked the list.
However, he was greatly underrated, especially when considering some of the coaches that were ranked in front of him.
Stefanski was ranked seventh on the list. Bill Belichick, Sean Peyton, Sean McDermott, Matt LaFleur, John Harbaugh, and Andy Reid were all ranked in front of Stefanski.
While there could be some skepticism in the rankings from PFF as Stefanski only has one season under his belt as a head coach, he has still accomplished a lot and brought home a coach of the year award in his first season.
Also, in the article, a slight shot is taken at Cleveland’s head coach. It is said:
"“Stefanski went for it on a league-high 81% of admissible fourth downs in the first three-quarters of close games (included playoffs), but the fourth down he didn’t go for in the playoffs against the Chiefs will likely haunt him for some time.” — Eric Eager on Stefanski"
What is failed to be brought up about the Browns Chiefs game however is that Stefanski arguably outcoached Reid (who was ranked number one on the list) in his coaching debut in the playoffs.
In this game, the Stefanski-led Browns held the star-studded Kansas City offense to only 22 points. Along with this, Patrick Mahomes who is by far the best quarterback currently in the league only threw for one touchdown on a rather weak Browns secondary.
Doing more with less is the sign of an incredible coach and Stefanski did just that.
Fourth down conversion rate is a stat that is frequently brought up in these rankings and while it is an important stat when looking at how well of a job a coach does, the most important stat is wins and losses.
In terms of that, Stefanski ranks third in overall winning percentage out of all of the coaches on this list. He ranks only behind Matt LeFleur and Bill Belichick.
This winning percentage paired with the adversity that the Browns faced in the 2020 season shows why Stefanski should be higher on the list.
First, the team had to learn a whole new system over zoom. Something that would have been deemed absurd and maybe even impossible three years ago.
Along with this, there were major injuries that kept key players sidelined for multiple weeks or even the entire season.
Lastly, COVID swept through the Browns locker room throughout the season. Culminating both when the Browns had no active wide receivers against the Jets and when Stefanski himself had to watch the Wild Card game from home due to the disease.
The final point as to why Stefanski should be moved up the list is that he has led his team to success despite not having an MVP-level player on his side.
When looking through the list of coaches ranked in front of Stefanski, you can name at least one player that has won or has been a contender for winning the award. Notably all of which are quarterbacks.
Reid has Mahomes, Harbaugh has Jackson, LaFleur has Rodgers, McDermott has Allen, Payton had Brees, and Belichick had Brady.
Ideally, Baker Mayfield will be able to continue to flourish in Stefanski’s system and elevate his game to the level of an MVP. If this is accomplished, the Browns will continue to be playoff contenders for years to come and Stefanski will gain the respect he has earned on lists like these.