Browns Continue to Make Sound Investments With Kitchens Move
Photo Credit: Ken Blaze/USA TODAY
As weird as it sounds, the Cleveland Browns keep making the right decisions. From drafting Baker Mayfield to getting rid of the guy who didn’t start him from the jump, Cleveland managed to put together a 2018 season that drew attention. Yes, it drew national attention, but that was gravy for a franchise that’s only been recognized as perpetual losers since it was reborn in 1999.
Wednesday marked another big step for the franchise. They didn’t just avoid the perpetual cycle of unsuccessful head coaches like so many other teams, which has gotten to the point where the term “coaching carousel” is almost strictly associated with the NFL. The Browns got the guy who’s shown immense promise with Mayfield, Freddie Kitchens.
With Kitchens calling the plays on offense, the Browns went 5-3 to salvage a 7-8-1 finish after going 2-5-1 to open the year. More importantly, Cleveland’s star gelled perfectly with the rookie offensive coordinator—who’d pretty much been a running backs or tight ends coach his entire career. The lone exception was as the quarterbacks coach from 2013-2016 in Arizona.
Under Kitchens’ predecessor Todd Haley, Mayfield had a QBR of 36 with a completion percentage of 58, eight touchdowns and six interceptions. He’d also been sacked 20 times in the six games he played. But when Kitchens took over the Browns record wasn’t the only thing that improved. Mayfield improved in QBR (70), completion percentage (68), his yards per attempt went from 6.6 to 8.6, and he threw 19 touchdown passes to eight interceptions. The Browns also surrendered only five sacks during that span.
When there’s this much of an improvement, well, it’s pretty easy to see why the Browns wouldn’t let Kitchens interview with other teams. He might fit in with other quarterbacks and other organizations, but he and Mayfield seemingly belong together.
Hopefully, for the Browns’ sake, they give him room to breathe in 2019, because there will certainly be bumps along the way. It’s a new role with new responsibilities. It’s worth the risk, though. Otherwise, Cleveland could bring in someone else who wants their own offensive coordinator, ignoring the rapport Kitchens and Mayfield have created.
The chips are starting to fall into place for Cleveland, with Nick Chubb blossoming in his rookie season and other talented players like Jarvis Landry around to contribute. And maybe more will come, now that the team finally has direction, a winner at the most important position on the field, and a boss that knows how to get the most out of him.