Following a couple of losing seasons, the Cleveland Browns are once again heading to the postseason. For the second time under Kevin Stefanski and only the third time since 1999, they've locked up a playoff spot and they did so in the most unorthodox way this year.
Cleveland has dealt with injuries at key positions including under center. They've had to start four different quarterbacks and will make it five on Sunday when Jeff Driskel takes the reins — this time, it's just to let Joe Flacco rest. Winning despite the odds is why defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz says Stefanski is the Coach of the Year and should win in a landslide. That story and more can be found in today's Browns news round-up.
Cleveland Browns news
Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz: Kevin Stefanski 'is coach of the year' — Christopher Dellecese, Cleveland 19
Jim Schwartz says Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski “is coach of the year and I don’t think that’s even close. He’s just such a steady hand with the team,” Schwartz said Thursday. “A head coach should be a steadying influence on a team and I don’t think anyone exemplifies that better than Kevin.”
At this point, there really isn't any other coach that should be in the running. DeMeco Ryans and Dan Campbell have each done well and should be praised for their work but neither had to go through the injuries Stefanski did. Even Houston, who did suffer a lot of losses, was able to rely on the same quarterback for all but a couple of games. Stefanski never had one for more than six starts.
Browns' Dustin Hopkins: Misses practice Thursday — CBS
"Hopkins remained sidelined Thursday and he's yet to return to practice following the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 16 against the Texans. At this point, it seems like Riley Patterson will operate at Cleveland's starting kicker again in Week 18 versus Cincinnati."
Riley Patterson was 4-of-5 on extra points against the Jets and hit his lone field goal attempt. He's a solid option for them but getting Dustin Hopkins back would be ideal. One major impact for Hopkins if he doesn't go would be the loss of a chance to set the franchise record for most points in a season. It appears he will fall five points shy of Jim Brown's record.
Browns get massive injury update on star players — DPD
With the playoffs right around the corner, the Browns got some great news when it comes to their injuries. Both Elijah Moore and Ogbo Okoronkwo were back at practice on Wednesday, which could lead to two stars returning for the postseason.
Browns quietly add Pro Bowl guard ahead of playoff run — DPD
Roger Saffold, who grew up a Browns fan, was added to the practice squad this week. The addition hardly made any noise since Saffold hasn't played all year but he was a two-time Pro Bowler in 2021 and 2022. That's some solid depth this late.
Browns defensive back robbed in ultimate Pro Bowl snub — DPD
Cleveland has a supremely talented secondary, so it was going to be hard to see them all in the Pro Bowl. Even with that being the case, Martin Emerson not making it in was the ultimate snub. He's played lights out all year and should have been given the nod.