By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8
The Cleveland Browns have named Freddie Kitchens as the 17th head coach in franchise history.
While the past few head coaches didn’t fare very well – or last very long – hopes are high that Coach Kitchens will be “cooking up” a winning recipe with rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. Fans seem to believe, and if this past season’s performance is any indication, that the Browns have finally found their franchise QB.
Kitchens and Dorsey have already started to put his coaching staff into place, naming Steve Wilks as the defensive coordinator and Todd Monken as the offensive coordinator.
“I’m your new head coach, Freddie Kitchens. Let’s roll.” 😂 pic.twitter.com/ZmZn76KCUZ
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 12, 2019
While Kitchens wasn’t among the “top names” being reported nationally for the job, general manager John Dorsey says that the search committee zeroed in on him very early in the process. He cited his eight-week resume as interim offensive coordinator plus the work he did with individual players being key factors in what the committee was looking for in candidates.
#Browns HC Freddie Kitchens: “It takes some guts to do what they did. And I appreciate that. I won’t let them down. And all you have to do is sit back and watch. I understand I’m not a popular choice. And I don’t care. You’ve got to block out the noise in this business.”
— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) January 14, 2019
With his roots in Alabama, Kitchens recalls the Browns being his favorite professional team growing up. “On Sundays, you had to do something other than go to church and eat a lot,” he said in today’s press conference. He specifically referred to their helmets and how he hopes they never change.
After being the ‘Bama QB from 1993-1997, Kitchens transitioned his desire to continue to have football be a part of his life and started coaching. At the collegiate level, he worked at Glenville State, LSU, North Texas and Mississippi State. Then he made the jump to the NFL and has worked for the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and the Cleveland Browns. His time was mainly split between being the tight ends coach or the running backs coach until becoming Assistant Head Coach and Interim Offensive Coordinator with the Browns last year.
His one trip to the Super Bowl came in 2009 as a coach for Arizona. Although they lost, his dream of getting back to the Super Bowl has motivated him to work hard every day. “My goal is to get better every day. Sometimes your goal ends up being your master instead of seeing the progress it takes to get there. My goal is to get back to the Super Bowl and that takes a team” said Kitchens.
Fun Fact: Freddie’s has a wife named Ginger. Once you are all finished with the “Kitchens-Baker-Brownies” jokes, I’m sure you’ll have some about Fred and Ginger and their smooth moves on the football field….
We’ve added Steve Wilks as our defensive coordinator, Todd Monken as offensive coordinator and Mike Priefer as special teams coordinator.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 14, 2019
Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks arrives in Cleveland after leaving the Arizona Cardinals and only one year as head coach. We’ve seen our fair share of great coordinators who only lasted a short time as the head coach, so that doesn’t bother me. He’s worked for head coaches Lovie Smith, Norv Turner and Rod Rivera in his thirteen years as an NFL coach.
From 2012-2017, he worked for the Carolina Panthers as defensive backs coach and then defensive coordinator. One huge area of need for the Browns next season is the defensive line, so hopefully, Wilks’ experience in this area bodes well for their improved future. Finishing this season ranked 28th in defense, and horrible against the run gives you an idea of where they need to focus their draft attention.
Offensive coordinator Todd Monkens joins the staff after leaving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after three seasons, as the wide receivers coach and OC. While their record wasn’t great, they did have the league’s best passing offense. And let’s face it – with quarterback Baker Mayfield under center, you want to take advantage of his wicked strong arm as best as you can.
While it’s obviously too early to tell how this new staff will gel and get along with the players, one thing is very clear: Freddie Kitchens is here to win. And the organization is clearly behind him. Browns fans just have to hope that finally having a franchise quarterback helps this first-time head coach be successful in his goal of reaching the Super Bowl!
Talk football with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8