Kevin Stefanski made Cleveland Browns history on Saturday night

Cleveland Browns, Kevin Stefanski. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns, Kevin Stefanski. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

With the win over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, Kevin Stefanski now has more victories than any Cleveland Browns coach since the 1999 re-birth

Ever since the Cleveland Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, they’ve struggled to field a consistent winner. In fact, they’ve had just three winning seasons since that year — going 9-7 in 2002, 10-6 in 2007, and 11-5 in 2020 — and two playoff berths.

A lack of stability is the primary reason for their issues as they’ve had an unbelievable 10 head coaches and two interims in that time frame. With 12 guys calling the shots since 1999, it’s easy to see why there’s no firm foundation for this franchise to build upon.

However, that’s shifted some in recent years since they’ve actually been giving their latest head coach a real chance. Kevin Stefanski is nearing the end of his third season as the Browns’ head coach and not only is he the only non-interim to have a winning record, but he now has the most victories for the franchise since 1999.

A win over Baltimore improved Stefanski’s record to 25-22 overall and they’re also 1-1 in the playoffs — although, his assistants had to lead them to the win since he was stuck at home with Covid. Still, he set up the game plan virtually and helped them secure their first postseason win since the early 1990s.

That 25th win put him one game ahead of Romeo Crennell who was 24-40 and Butch Davis who was 24-35. So not only did he surpass them in wins, but he did it with 13 fewer losses than Davis and 18 fewer than Crennel.

Cleveland Browns need to stay the course with Kevin Stefanski

Despite the success Stefanski has had, there are those who have still been highly critical of him — this season especially. Those criticisms are misdirected as Stefanski has led the Browns to a 6-8 record despite not having his preferred quarterback for the first 11 games.

Not only did he run one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL with Jacoby Brissett but he once again had to overcome one injury after another. Cleveland has lost two centers — their primary starter went down on the first preseason drive — had both their right guard and right tackle miss time, and now has four of their best linebackers on the IR.

It’s rare any team would have success with so much going against them but the Browns are still in the playoff mix and a few more bounces going their way could have changed everything.

For example, four of their losses have come by three points or fewer and the one to Buffalo was by just eight. So five one-score defeats could have gone the other way and we would again be talking about Stefanski as a Coach of the Year Candidate.

As it stands now, he’s focused on closing this season strong and either hoping for a playoff miracle or finding something to build upon for 2023. And yes, he needs to be the coach in 2023.