Freddie Kitchens will not get a second season in charge of the Cleveland Browns.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday night the Browns have fired Kitchens following the season-ending 33-23 loss to the two-win Cincinnati Bengals cementing their 6-10 campaign, per the coach.
The Browns later confirmed the move.
“I would like to thank Freddie for his dedication and efforts this past season,” general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. “We are disappointed in our results and feel a change is necessary. Freddie is a good man and good football coach. We wish he and his family nothing but success.”
After firing Kitchens, Cleveland will hire its ninth different head coach since 2000. Kitchens is the second head coach in Browns history to be fired after one season (Rob Chudzinski, 2013).
“We thank Freddie for his hard work and commitment to this organization but did not see the success or opportunities for improvement to move forward with him as our head coach,” owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. “Our focus is on hiring an exceptional leader for this football team and we will take a comprehensive approach to this process. We are excited about the core players we have to build around and develop and we look forward to bringing in a strong head coach that will put this group of players in the best position to succeed.”
Jettisoning Kitchens comes after one tumultuous season in which the first-time head coach looked in over his head for much of the 2019 campaign.
The Browns, owning talent all over the field with Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, and on and on, didn’t only not live up to the preseason hype, but routinely fell flat week after week en route to a brutally disappointing 6-10 season.
Kitchens’ star rose quickly after he took over as offensive coordinator in 2018. Mayfield showed great promise down the stretch and vouched for Kitchens to get the head gig last offseason. From Weeks 9-17 last year, the Browns averaged 23.8 points per game, 395.1 yards per game, 41.0 third-down percent and Mayfield owned a 104.9 passer rating with Kitchens calling the plays.
Despite adding talents like Beckham and Kareem Hunt, the offense cratered in 2019, averaging 20.9 points per game, 340.9 yards per game, 36.2 percent on third downs and a 78.4 passer rating. The Browns didn’t rank in the top 20 in any key offensive category.
While the Browns entered Week 17 with Kitchens believing he still had support within the building, the loss to a Bengals team that already clinched the No. 1 draft pick in 2020 sealed his fate. Mayfield threw three INTs along with three touchdowns, but there was little rhythm, and the defense got scorched on the ground by Joe Mixon (26/162/2) and couldn’t get a stop.
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The Browns‘ season under Kitchens was characterized by head-scratching play-calling, bizarre game management, and lack of cohesion on either side of the ball. Myles Garrett‘s indefinite suspension for using a helmet as a weapon will likely go down as the most memorable moment of Kitchen’s regime and underscore the belief he didn’t have control of his own locker room.
Kitchens seems like a good man and could be a good play-caller in the right circumstance, but his fast rise to head coach seemed to be too much for a Browns team that had high expectations but little experience in how to win in the NFL.
With Cleveland hitting the reset button yet again, they’ll likely look for a veteran coach that can manage the talent Dorsey has amassed.
Based on the statement from the Browns, it appears Dorsey’s job in Cleveland is safe at this point. The GM, however, has plenty of work to do this offseason, starting with finding the right coach.