Browns Leader Gets Credit for His ‘3 Superpowers’

Kevin Stefanski

Getty Kevin Stefanski coaches the Cleveland Browns against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Amid the trials and tribulations of the Cleveland Browns and their injury woes, which have affected everything from the star-studded defense to the offensive line to the quarterback room, Kevin Stefanski has paced the sidelines, doing everything in his power to keep the AFC North squad afloat.

In the mind of his general manager, though, his powers are more like superpowers.

Kevin Stefanski & His ‘3 Superpowers’

Andrew Berry has led the Cleveland front office as general manager, acquiring plenty of talent on both sides of the ball as he tries to end a playoff drought that dates back to 2020 and advance past the Divisional Round for the first time since 1989.

For perspective, reserve offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe and veteran quarterback Joe Flacco are the only two players on the roster who were born in time for that last semi-deep postseason run.

Kevin Stefanski was, as well, and he’s doing everything he can to get off the proverbial schneid.

“He has three superpowers,” Berry said about the head coach, per ESPN’s Jake Trotter. “His intelligence, his creativity and his emotional control.”

Stefanski has drawn up plenty of creative schemes while serving as the offensive play-caller, and he’s deserved plenty of credit for leading his troops to plenty of points even with Flacco transitioning from the couch to a new spot under center. He’s also stayed even-keeled throughout the season—all the more impressive because he was deemed one of the coaches on the preseason hot seat following back-to-back losing campaigns.

“If things go poorly in 2023, as the Browns try to navigate what’s arguably the most brutal division in the league, the dude acquired at the cost of three first-round draft picks is very unlikely to wind up as the fall guy,” Nate Davis wrote for USA Today while ranking Stefanski as the coach with the second-most tenuous job situation entering the year.

Compare that to the tone of the present-day comments, whether it’s Berry speaking about superpowers or Flacco invoking Coach of the Year conversations, per Trotter: “He does a great job, and I think he deserves a lot of credit, obviously, with the amount of variables that he’s been dealing with this year. He’s the first guy you’re going to have to look at when you talk about that kind of stuff.”

Stefanski Has Faced Plenty of Adversity in 2023

The NFL standings showcase the only numbers that truly matter—wins, losses and, on rare occasions, ties—but multiple paths to the same record can often feature significant diversions.

Heading into a Week 15 matchup with the Chicago Bears, the Browns own the No. 5 seed in the AFC thanks to an 8-5 record. They’re still two games back of the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North battle, and the 7-6 Pittsburgh Steelers, 7-6 Indianapolis Colts, 7-6 Houston Texans, 7-6 Denver Broncos, 7-6 Cincinnati Bengals and 7-6 Buffalo Bills would all love to displace them in the wild-card hierarchy.

But even if Cleveland is in the driver’s seat for a playoff berth, the road has been anything but smooth.

All-Pro running back Nick Chubb was lost for the season with an ugly Week 2 knee injury. Franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson suffered a significant shoulder injury, pushing the Browns toward their current status as the first team since the 2015 Houston Texans to begin games with four different signal-callers under center.

The offensive line has endured a brutal string of injuries that have affected Jedrick Wills Jr., Jack Conklin and Dawand Jones, among others. Denzel Ward and Grant Delpit have missed time in the secondary due to injuries, and defensive end Ogbo Okoronkwo is currently dealing with a groin injury suffered in the Week 14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

David Njoku and Amari Cooper haven’t been operating at 100% as targets for Flacco, who went from out of the league to starting in a matter of days.

The list goes on and on, and Stefanski has maintained his composure through everything.

“He’s coaching his ass off,” Myles Garrett said of his head coach, per Trotter. “… With everything that’s changed throughout the year, pieces moving in and out, switched around, he’s done a hell of a job. And we’ve answered the call.”

Stefanski Starting to Get Award Consideration

According to Fox Sports, Stefanski has consistently climbed the Coach of the Year odds board. He entered the Jacksonville week at +3000 but has already risen to +1100 after emerging victoriously from four of his last six games amid a veritable sea of tumult.

That still doesn’t make him the favorite to win Coach of the Year after first earning the award in 2020 as a rising sideline star. But he’s at least within striking distance and should only keep moving up if he builds upon the growing momentum:

  • Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions: +350
  • DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans: +350
  • Mike McDaniel, Miami Dolphins: +550
  • Shane Steichen, Indianapolis Colts: +650
  • Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers: +1000
  • Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns: +1100

Lest we forget, the NFL’s head coach fraternity features 32 men. Stefanski rising from the hot seat to the second tier of the Coach of the Year conversation is impressive in and of itself, and doubly so when considering the quality of the team Cleveland could field comprised solely of currently and previously injured contributors.

Perhaps job preservation is yet another one of the Stefanski superpowers.

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