The Associated Press announced their finalists for the 2023 AP Awards, and the Cleveland Browns have a player or coach nominated in four categories. There are five finalists in each category, and the winner of the award will be announced at the NFL Honors on Feb. 8.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski is a finalist for AP Coach of the Year.
The Browns overcame adversity throughout the season as they dealt with injuries to key players and stars on all three sides of the ball. Through it all, they finished 11-6 on the season and clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2020. The Browns also finished the regular season 8-1 at home, which is a team record for wins at home. The 11 regular season wins also tied for the second-most in Browns' history, trailing just the 1986 team's 12 wins.
"Kevin, the way that he was able to lead and manage through challenges in adversity this year was absolutely phenomenal," Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry said. "And we have a smart, adaptable, emotionally intelligent leader who the crazy part is, he's not even close to his ceiling. And this is a guy who hopefully in the next month should earn his second Coach of the Year award in his first four years as a head coach. And I know that our organization is in really good hands both now and for the foreseeable future with him."
DC Jim Schwartz is a finalist for AP Assistant Coach of the Year. In his first season with the Browns as their defensive coordinator, Schwartz built a culture among the defense, and it translated on the field as they celebrated their successes as a defense.
The Browns defense led the NFL in different categories, including total defense – allowing just 270.2 yards per game – and passing defense – allowing just 164.7 yards per game. Cleveland's 270.2 net yards allowed per game were the fewest allowed in the NDL since the 2014 Seahawks allowed 267.1. The Browns also led the NFL in third down percentage – 67-of-230 for 29.1 percent.
"I think Jim's influence on really the entire defense was enormous, quite honestly," Berry said on Jan. 23.
DE Myles Garrett is a finalist for AP Defensive Player of the Year. Garrett has earned a number of accolades for his 2023 season, where he led the Browns with 14 sacks and finished tied for seventh in the NFL. His 14 sacks tied for third-most by a Brown in a season. He is also the only NFL player to record at least 14 sacks in each of the past three seasons and the only player to record at least 10 sacks in each of the past six seasons. Garrett is the Browns all-time sack leader with 88.5.
"For us, seeing Myles from when we drafted him number one overall from Texas A&M and to see the work and effort that he's put into it behind the scenes," Berry said on Jan. 23. "Obviously, everybody knows he's talented, but we view him as a player who's been dominant and super productive ever since he's entered the league. And we feel like his work on the field hasn't always been nationally recognized. And so just having a historically great player on a historically great defense and everything we accomplished this year, with him being a huge part of it, it would be it really important."
QB Joe Flacco is a finalist for the AP Comeback Player of the Year. In five regular season games, Flacco completed 123-of-204 passes for 1,616 yards and 13 touchdowns. Flacco first signed with the Browns to the practice squad on Nov. 20, and played his first game in Week 13 against the Rams. He then led the Browns to four consecutive wins in the month of December and helped them clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2020 on Thursday Night Football in Week 17.
He led the Browns to a 4-1 record as a starter and became the first player in NFL history to record at least 250 passing yards and two touchdown passes in each of his first five games with a team. Flacco also became the first Browns player to throw for 300 yards in four consecutive games.