Call them the Finalist Four.
The finalists were announced Thursday for The Associated Press’ NFL awards, and the Browns were well-represented across the categories.
Kevin Stefanski has the chance to win Coach of the Year for the second time in four years. Defensive end Myles Garrett is up against Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt in his quest to be Defensive Player of the Year for the first time. Quarterback Joe Flacco’s surprising late-season performance that led the Browns to the playoffs earned him a spot among the finalists for Comeback Player of the Year. And defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is up for Assistant Coach of the Year.
The winners will be picked from the five finalists in each category and announced Feb. 8 at the NFL Honors program in Las Vegas.
Cowboys outside linebacker Micah Parsons and cornerback DaRon Bland and Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby joined Garrett and Watt as the finalists for DPOY.
Watt led the NFL with 19 sacks, Crosby had 14 1/2 and Garrett and Parsons each had 14. Bland set an NFL record with five interception returns for a touchdown.
The Browns have pitched a public campaign for Garrett, calling him the best player on the league’s No. 1-ranked defense. He added 17 tackles for loss, 30 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles. He was the leading All-Pro vote-getter among edge rushers — the same media panel votes for these awards — and was named Defensive Player of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America.
Stefanski, who won the award in his first season in 2020, led the Browns to an 11-6 record despite a series of serious injuries and starting five quarterbacks — a franchise-record four won games.
He’s up against Houston’s DeMeco Ryans, Detroit’s Dan Campbell, Baltimore’s John Harbaugh and San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan. The Texans beat the Browns 45-14 in the wild card round of the playoffs, and the other three coaches will compete in the conference championship games Sunday.
The voting took place before the playoffs.
Ryans was announced as the PFWA’s Coach of the Year on Thursday.
Schwartz piloted the Browns defense to the No. 1 ranking in his first season with the team. It led the league in total yards, passing yards, first downs and third-down conversions.
The other assistant finalists are Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald and offensive coordinator Todd Monken and Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik.
Macdonald won the PFWA award.
Flacco threw for 1,616 yards and 13 touchdowns in five starts, going 4-1 as the Browns clinched a playoff spot. He wasn’t signed until Nov. 20.
The other finalists for Comeback Player of the Year are Buccaneers quarterback and former Browns No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Bills safety Damar Hamlin.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey and Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott are finalists for the Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year awards.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen and 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy are the other MVP finalists, while Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill and Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb are the other finalists for Offensive Player of the Year.
Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud, Lions tight end Sam LaPorta and running back Jahmyr Gibbs, Rams receiver Puka Nacua and Falcons running back Bijan Robinson are finalists for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Texans defensive end Will Anderson Jr., Eagles defensive tackle Jalen Carter, Rams defensive lineman Kobie Turner, Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon are the Defensive Rookie of the Year finalists.
A nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league voted for the awards.