The 2023 season has not gone according to plan for the Browns from an injury perspective, but the team is in a playoff spot entering Week 13. As a result, the job security for head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry is not a talking point.
Both entered the season with considerable expectations given the strength of Cleveland’s roster, and the annual regression in the win-loss department which had taken place during their three-year tenures. However, season-ending injuries to the likes of running back Nick Chubb and, more recently, quarterback Deshaun Watson have not prevented a 7-4 start and the strong chance of a postseason berth. The team’s success so far has chased away the possibility of a change on the sideline or in the front office.
Both Stefanski and Berry are “here to stay,” Dianna Russini of The Athletic reports (subscription required). The former earned Coach of the Year honors in 2020 after leading the team to a record of 11-5 and making it to the divisional round of the playoffs. A step back to 8-9 followed, though, along with a 7-10 mark in 2022, the first year with Watson at the helm (though his suspension delayed his Browns debut until Week 12 during that campaign). That regression led some to believe the heat could quickly increase on the Stefanski-Berry regime barring improvements.
No coaching change took place this past offseason, to no surprise, and Stefanski’s coaching performance in 2023 has likewise unsurprisingly earned him a longer leash. The Browns are tied to the decision to acquire Watson – a move which included a trade package of three first-round picks followed by a fully guaranteed $230MM contract – and the repercussions which will come from it. The former Texans Pro Bowler has not lived up to expectations so far in Cleveland, but the team’s ability to win without him in the lineup or playing to his previous level when on the field has drawn rave reviews.
That will continue to be tested as Joe Flacco is set to start in Week 13 with rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson sidelined. Adding the veteran late in the season could prove to be a shrewd move if it allows the Browns to continue winning with a severely shorthanded offense and push for a postseason berth in the crowded AFC. Even if that does not prove to be the case, though, both Stefanski and Berry appear to have earned themselves extra leeway heading into the offseason.