DeMeco Ryans won the first of hopefully many off-season awards on Thursday, taking home the Pro Football Writers of America's award for the 2023 NFL Coach of the Year Award. Ryans, who took a three-win Texans club to the second round of the NFL playoffs just one year apart, was rightly seen as the man who should've won the award. With more outlets looking to pick their own winner for Coach of the Year, it's expected that Ryans will win more and more awards across the offseason.
But that doesn't mean he's a lock. For all the success that Ryans helped create in Houston, there's one more coach in the NFL who deserves to be mentioned as a possible candidate for Coach of the Year, and that's the Cleveland Browns head coach, Kevin Stefanski.
While credit to the Browns where it's due, namely on defense, the Browns weren't the juggernaut many thought they'd be this year. Their defense started to fail on the back half of the season, the offense was an inconsistent mess and this team was looking like it'd have another losing season. Especially after key losses to embattled and disgraced quarterback Deshaun Watson and franchise icon and beloved player Nick Chubb.
Losing your starting quarterback and the best player on your team would ruin most teams' seasons. Yet, the Browns persisted, with four different quarterbacks starting for the club, the most impressive of which was 38-year-old Joe Flacco, who looked as washed up as possible after leaving the New York Jets.
The Browns ended up having a double-digit win season, nearly won the AFC North, and rode a wave of excitement not seen in years all the way to the playoffs. They were dispatched by your beloved Texans, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Stefanski had to do some serious magic to make this team worth watching.
If anyone should win the award other than Ryans, it's Stefanski.