Browns Top-5 all-time coaches: Kevin Stefanski ranked among the best in team history

FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 14: Head Coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns reacts against the New England Patriots during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 14: Head Coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns reacts against the New England Patriots during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
Kevin Stefanski
CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 16: Head coach Marty Schottenheimer of the Cleveland Browns looks on from the field before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Municipal Stadium on October 16, 1988 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Eagles 19-3. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns have had many outstanding coaches in their franchise history including today’s coach Kevin Stefanski. See where he ranks amongst the other greats.

There have only been five Cleveland Browns coaches (that have at least two seasons with the team) that have a winning record in the history of the franchise. That’s not exactly the type of statistic that suggests a glowingly great program.

The Browns began in 1946 under the guidance of Paul Brown, who is the most successful coach in the history of the team and likely will remain that symbolic hero. Paul Brown finished his Cleveland career with a record of 148-48-8 between 1946 and 1962. The team joined the NFL in 1950 where Brown won 111 games until his 1962 departure.

So who are the other best coaches in this team’s history?

Let’s go through the rest of the list. We’ll start with a coach that didn’t finish with a winning record but came very close. He’s who I remember first as a young boy growing up in the Cleveland area.

No. 5: Sam Rutigliano

That image of Sam Rutigliano and quarterback Brian Sipe after Sipe threw the interception to the Oakland Raiders defender on a frozen field in the 1980 AFC Divisional Playoff Game is unfortunately what many fans remember of the coach and his quarterback. Rutigliano coached the team from 1978 to 1984. He finished with a 47-50 record and at the time brought the team back to some relevance.

His best year was that 1980 season when the team went 11-5. He had two other winning campaigns as well both in 1979 and 1983. He would have ended with an overall winning career in Cleveland if it hadn’t been for the 1-7 start to the 1984 season. He was fired that season.

No. 4: Kevin Stefanski

Kevin Stefanski hit the ground running when he arrived in Berea before the 2020 season. Unfortunately, he wasn’t running very far as he started coaching the team through Zoom as the pandemic hit the world and everyone had to adjust accordingly.

Despite the limitations placed on him and his staff, his first team finished at 11-5 and they made a playoff appearance against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers where they won going away.

This past season wasn’t so great for Stefanski as his team sputtered and finished at 8-9 and out of the playoffs. With playoffs a real possibility for the team in this upcoming campaign look for the third-year coach to build on his winning ways.

No. 3: Marty Schottenheimer

The late Marty Schottenheimer coached the Browns between 1984 and 1988 and was part of the best years of the franchise and a resurgence of a team that had been mediocre at best for decades. Quarterback Bernie Kosar became a star during this time as well.

Cleveland made it to two AFC championship games in both the 1986 and 1987 seasons. He had three years where his teams won 10 or more games and his teams won the division three times.

He finished his tenure in Cleveland going 44-27 and is considered one of the very best to coach the team. He then moved on to coach the Kansas City Chiefs where he continued to win consistently. Schottenheimer coached the Chiefs between 1989 and 1998 and only had one losing season.

No. 2: Blanton Collier

Blanton Collier is credited for being the Browns head coach when they won the NFL Championship in 1964. They made the title game three other times in Collier’s tenure.

He became the team’s coach after the team’s founder Paul Brown was fired before the 1963 season started. Collier had been with the Browns as an assistant under Brown from 1946 to 1953. Then he went on to be a successful college coach at the University of Kentucky. The Browns then brought him back to the team in 1963 as their head coach.

In his time with Cleveland, Collier finished with a 76-34 -2 record. His mentor Paul Brown is the only Cleveland coach with a better record.

No. 1: Paul Brown

The founder of the franchise had an overall record of 111-44-5. Cleveland started in the old AAFC league in 1946 where the team won a lot, winning four titles in the league and going 47-4 between 1946 and 1949. The 1948 season was extra special as the team went undefeated. That was not seen again in professional football until 1972 when the Miami Dolphins won the Super Bowl with an unblemished record.

Cleveland was so dominant at the time that the old AAFC league that they had been in decided to merge with the new NFL. When the Browns defeated the NFL powerhouse Philadelphia Eagles in its inaugural game in the NFL in the 1950 season, fans in the NFL knew that the Browns were no fluke.

When Cleveland went onto the NFL they kept winning titles under Paul Brown’s guidance. They won the NFL Championship Games in 1950, 1954, and 1955.

Eventually Brown and new general manager Art Modell couldn’t see eye to eye — and Modell fired Brown prior to the 1963 season.

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Eventually Brown helped form the now Cincinnati Bengals who joined the NFL in 1970. That first season the late coach got his redemption and beat his former team.