The Cleveland Browns didn't secure a playoff berth until a Week 17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. That may have been enough to push head coach Kevin Stefanski toward his first award for the season.
On Thursday, the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) announced that Stefanski was selected the 2020 NFL Coach of the Year. The 38-year-old, who accepted the Cleveland gig last January, guided the Browns to their first postseason appearance in 18 years and a playoff win at the Steelers.
Cleveland fell to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday.
Under Stefanski, quarterback Baker Mayfield played arguably the best football of his brief pro career that began in 2018, and the Browns won 11 regular-season games for the first time since the franchise was reborn ahead of the 1999 campaign.
Like many coaches during the pandemic-altered season, Stefanski faced unique and difficult challenges. Star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. went down to a torn ACL early in a Week 7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 25, and the Browns dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak that threatened the Week 17 game and the postseason matchup against Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll won 2020 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year, while Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane earned 2020 NFL Executive of the Year honors. The Bills play at the Chiefs in Sunday's AFC Championship Game.