The Browns were recognized by the Associated Press at NFL Honors for the success of the 2023 season.
With players and coaches nominated for four awards – Coach of the Year, Assistant Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year – the Browns took home all four awards on Thursday night.
Coach Kevin Stefanski earned his second Coach of the Year award in his four years as a head coach and is the 13th coach in history to win multiple Coach of the Year awards. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was named the Assistant Coach of the Year, recognizing him for the success of the Browns defense in his first season with the Browns as defensive coordinator.
"I'm very grateful for this award," Schwartz said. "When it's all said and done, I played a really, really small part in this. The main credit goes to our assistant coaches, our position coaches and our players. Just a great group to work with."
DE Myles Garrett won his first Defensive Player of the Year award. Garrett attended NFL Honors to accept his award.
"I want to thank the Browns organization for y'all believing in me," Garrett said during his acceptance speech of the award. "Jimmy and Dee Haslam, Andrew Berry, Kevin Stefanski, (Jim) Schwartz, and man, we had a hell of a brotherhood that helped support me and get me here as well. And I have a great team that has been around me for the last two years, helped support me in my wellness. […] My high school coach who I was able to bring here. Thank you, it's been a blessing."
Finally, QB Joe Flacco was named Comeback Player of the Year. Flacco also attended NFL Honors to accept his award.
"Big thanks to the city of Cleveland, just everybody in Cleveland," Flacco said as he accepted the award. "I want to say thank you to my teammates for welcoming me into that locker room at that point in the year. To welcome a new guy is not the easiest thing, so I want to say thank you to those guys. I want to say thank you to the organization for giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do – and that's play football. And I want to say thank you to the city, just for making me and my family feel at home for a couple of months. Truly special."
The four awards – and recipients of each – encapsulated all that the Browns went through during the 2023 season. From putting one of the top defenses in the league out on the field each week – anchored by a player in Garrett who teams had to game plan for – to signing a quarterback 12 weeks into the season who led the Browns to a playoff berth, and a head coach who led them through the ups and downs of the season.
The Browns dealt with adversity throughout the 2023 season, losing key starters and role players to season-ending injuries from Week 1. They started five different quarterbacks over the course of the season and relied on the next man up mentality, which the entire roster embodied over the course of the season.
Through it all, they clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2020 in Week 17 against the Jets. They won 11 regular season games, which tied for the second-most in team history, trailing just the 1986 team's 12 wins. The Browns finished the regular season 8-1 at home, which set a team record for wins at home.
After the Browns lost to the Texans in the Wild Card round, bringing an end to their season many of the players and Stefanski reflected on just what the 2023 season meant to the group. They recognized the uniqueness of the group in the locker room, from how the defense celebrated successes throughout games, offensive players picked one another up off the field and fully bought into the mentality of going 1-0 each week. The lived by the mentality of next man up, seeing young players and backup players step into key roles throughout the season and gain crucial in-game experience.
But there is still a hunger for more.
The NFL Honors closed the chapter on the 2023 season, highlighting the accomplishments of individuals and encompassing the overall season. Now, the Browns turn their attention to 2024, hoping to take the next step. As Garrett closed his acceptance speech at NFL Honors, he echoed a hopeful sentiment about the Browns' future.
"And to the city of Cleveland, this one's for you," he said. "We're going to bring home something bigger next time. Let's go."