- Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski won coach of the year in 2020
- Leading Cleveland to its first playoff win in 25 years got Stefanski the award
- Bill Belichick opened as the favorite last year after Tom Brady’s departure
In his first season as a head coach, Kevin Stefanski secured the Browns’ first winning record since 2007 and ending the NFL’s longest active playoff drought, which dated back to 2002.
Despite trailing Buffalo’s Sean McDermott and Miami’s Brian Flores in NFL Coach of the Year odds on the board last February, Stefanski climbed over the other two to win NFL Coach of the Year.
Stefanski (+1300) is the co-favorite to win again in 2021 along with Brandon Staley of the LA Chargers and Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers.
Odds to Win NFL Coach of the Year in 2021
|Coach (Team)||Odds at DraftKings|
|Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland)||+1300|
|Brandon Staley (L.A. Chargers)||+1300|
|Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco)||+1300|
|Brian Flores (Miami)||+1400|
|Sean McVay (L.A. Rams)||+1400|
|Frank Reich (Indianapolis)||+1600|
|Ron Rivera (Washington)||+1600|
|Sean McDermott (Buffalo)||+1700|
|Bill Belichick (New England)||+1800|
|Sean Payton (New Orleans)||+1800|
|Arthur Smith (Atlanta)||+1800|
|Joe Judge (N.Y. Giants)||+2000|
|Andy Reid (Kansas City)||+2000|
|Matt Rhule (Carolina)||+2000|
|Robert Saleh (N.Y. Jets)||+2000|
|Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay)||+2200|
|John Harbaugh (Baltimore)||+2200|
|Pete Carroll (Seattle)||+2500|
|Vic Fangio (Denver)||+2500|
|Mike McCarthy (Dallas)||+2500|
|Matt Lafleur (Green Bay)||+2500|
|Urban Meyer (Jacksonville)||+2800|
|Mike Zimmer (Minnesota)||+2800|
|Matt Nagy (Chicago)||+3000|
|Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh)||+3000|
|Mike Vrabel (Tennessee)||+3000|
|Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona)||+3300|
|Dan Campbell (Detroit)||+5000|
|David Culley (Houston)||+5000|
|Jon Gruden (Las Vegas)||+5000|
|Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia)||+5000|
|Zac Taylor (Cincinnati)||+5000|
Odds as of May 14
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What would it take for Stefanski to win again? The odds aren’t in his favor. The last time a coach won the award in consecutive seasons was Joe Gibbs with Washington back in 1982 and 1983.
Stefanski would likely have to put the Browns into the AFC Championship game. That would likely mean an even better record than the 11-5 mark Cleveland put up last season.
Kevin Stefanski’s reaction after the Browns traded up for Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is something (via Building the Browns) pic.twitter.com/V3a4eJp0Vu
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) May 9, 2021
Since it’s been almost 40 years since the NFL had a repeat winner as coach of the year, betting Stefanski at +1300 doesn’t promise great value. Look more toward Staley and Shanahan.
Staley is valued by the Chargers for having a great football mind. Many football observers think they will be the breakout team of 2021 with the offense built around reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Justin Herbert.
Shanahan is a good bet because he’s in a perfect rebound scenario. The 49ers suffered multiple injuries to key starters throughout the season and missed the playoffs with a 6-10 record. They needed a franchise QB and they think they got him at the draft in North Dakota’s Trey Lance.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) May 14, 2021
Voters tend to reward new coaches who spark an organizational turnaround (think Sean McVay in 2017 or Matt Nagy in 2018) and that’s why New England’s Bill Belichick, one of the most successful coaches ever, hasn’t won the award since 2010.
In Stefanski’s case, his offensive prowess was seen in both the Browns’ No. 3-ranked rushing attack and the marked improvement that QB Baker Mayfield made in his third pro season.
It’s just as clear you don’t have to win the Super Bowl to earn coach of the year honors. The last Super Bowl champion coach who was also selected as the best coach was Bill Parcells in 1994 with the Patriots.
#49ers percent of passing yards that came AFTER the catch
2020: 53% (4th)
2019: 55% (2nd)
2018: 54% (3rd)
Kyle Shanahan can start Trey Lance and not ask him to do too much as a passer – it’s basically what he’s been doing
— Michael F. Florio (@MichaelFFlorio) May 12, 2021
Check out the way the Bills have been building, and you get the sense that it’s only a matter of time until McDermott wins the award. At +1700 odds, McDermott is a good value play. He’s been building a winning culture in Buffalo and deserves credit for overseeing Josh Allen’s development into a franchise QB.
A good long shot and one that comes with more risk is taking Zac Taylor with the Cincinnati Bengals. QB Joe Burrow had a great start to the season before he was injured, and the Bengals drafted LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase as a perfect passing complement. They should be dynamite together.
So, betting Taylor at +5000 would pay off big. Consider also that the Bengals have only one way to go — and that’s up.
John Harbaugh of Baltimore (+2200) , Matt Nagy (+3000) of Chicago and Sean McVay (+1400) in LA were previous winners before Stefanski. Oddsmakers still obviously like McVay’s chances.
Belichick seems like the forgotten genius in New England. It’s hard to believe that he was the betting favorite at the start of last season. But if he is able to revive the greatness in Cam Newton, he’d be a good candidate again.