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Kevin Stefanski edges DeMeco Ryans for NFL Coach of the Year award despite tie in voting | Sporting News

The 2023 NFL season featured plenty of surprise teams and standout coaching performances, making Coach of the Year one of the most highly anticipated awards during Thursday night’s NFL Honors ceremony. 

The reveal didn’t disappoint.

Cleveland’s Kevin Stefanski and Houston’s DeMeco Ryans finished with the exact same number of points (165) from the 50 media members who voted, forcing the AP to employ its tiebreaker system to declare a winner. 

MORE: Full results from the 2024 NFL Honors

NFL Coach of the Year Voting 2023

Stefanski garnered 21 first-place votes, 18 second-place votes, and six third-place votes to total 165 points in the weighted scoring system.

Ryans netted 20 first-place votes, 21 second-place votes, and two third-place votes for his 165 points. 

Stefanski and Ryans finish well ahead of the rest of the field, though Dan Campbell (3), Kyle Shanahan (3), John Harbaugh (2), and Sean McVay (1) all received first-place votes. 

Why did Kevin Stefanski win NFL Coach of the Year 2023?

Per the AP, when two coaches tie in total points in award voting, the coach with the most first-place votes is declared the winner.

Stefanski, by virtue of a single first-place vote, took home his second Coach of the Year award since taking the helm in Cleveland. He also won the award in 2020. He trails only Chuck Knox (3), Bill Belichick (3), and Don Shula (4) for most career Coach of the Year awards. 

The Browns finished the season 11-6 despite starting five different quarterbacks throughout the season. Franchise QB Deshaun Watson struggled with injuries and inconsisitency early before eventually hitting the IR ahead of Week 11 because of a shoulder injury. 

On top of that, stud RB Nick Chubb tore up his knee in Week 2 and missed the remainder of the season. 

Stefanski managed to navigate through a bevy of injuries, field the NFL’s top-ranked defense, and rejuvenate 38-year-old Joe Flacco en route to an 11-6 record and wild-card berth. Houston quickly put an end to Cleveland’s Cinderella season, blowing out the Browns 45-14 in the first round of the playoffs, but Stefanski did a masterful job despite sitting firmly on the hot seat after a 7-10 campaign a year ago.

Stefanski wasn’t the only member of the Browns’ organization who took home some hardware on Thursday night, which only highlights how well he managed his team throughout the season.

MORE: 2024 NFL Hall of Fame inductees

Why didn’t DeMeco Ryans win NFL Coach of the Year 2023?

Aside from losing the tie-breaker to Stefanski, Ryans was likely hurt by the fact that NFL Coach of the Year is a regular-season honor. 

Ryans certainly has a strong claim to the award after leading the Texans to a 10-7 record, AFC South title, and first-round playoff win. Few expected much of anything from the Texans in Ryans’ first year as an NFL head coach, as he took over a 3-13-1 Houston team that was starting a rookie QB. 

Had the media voting taken place after Ryans’ Texans crushed Stefanski’s Browns in the wild-card round, Ryans likely would have won the award. It’s also possible some voters determined their votes before Houston’s Week 18 win over the Colts, which locked them into a playoff spot.

Given the job Ryans did in his first season, it seems likely he’ll be back in the running for a Coach of the Year award in the future. Of course, now he has expectations, so winning the award won’t get any easier.

Either way, he’s clearly one of the NFL’s best young coaches, trophy or not, and with this season’s Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year on his squad, there are likely more playoff wins in his future. 

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