Life moves quickly in the NFL. If you don’t get results then changes are made. That’s exactly what happened in Cleveland as the team started their off season remodelling a little early. The Browns made two huge changes within just twenty four hours. The first move was the firing of head coach Hue Jackson.
Let’s start with Jackson, who struggled his way to a 3-36-1 in a little over two seasons. The writing was on the wall when Jackson was unable to generate wins despite a significantly improved, talented team. The latest loss was the final nail for a tenure which saw childish squabbling between Haley and Jackson dating back to training camp, some of which was aired on this season’s Hard Knocks television show. The pair, both of whom are known for being opinionated, argued over many things, including the best way to run the offense and this was partly why both were removed. General manager John Dorsey said of the new coaches should “treat people the way they want to be treated. Come into work every day willing to work, okay? Love what you do. Take ownership in what you’re doing. There are a lot of good people in this organization that really want to win.”
It was not a surprising move for Dorsey considering the Browns had nearly fired Jackson last year after he failed two win a game in 2017. This came on the back of a 1-15 record in his first year in charge. Though the team ultimately decided to stay with Jackson many were critical of the move at the time and he was always on a short leash. Dorsey explained, “There were certain things that happened from an offensive standpoint, minimal offensive production and there were some plays that could have been made that were not made and that’s a player thing,”.
Todd Hayley was picked by Jackson to invigorate the Browns offense. To say he failed would be a titanic understatement. Under his leadership (all 8 games of it) the Browns offense scored 23 points just once and has averaged just 342.4 yards a game despite a defense that is among the best in the league at creating turnovers. Hayley’s offense was also predictable and failed to make best use of weapons like Duke Johnson and the team’s speedy receivers.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will be the team’s interim head coach. It’s not Williams’ first appointment as head coach. He served in the role for Buffalo from 2001 to 2003. Dorsey said of the hiring “What we’re attempting to do here now is create the best environment moving forward, not only for the players but for the coaching staff as well and that’s what our focus is on right now.”
Whilst Williams will act as head coach and maintain defensive coordinator duties, he is unlikely to have much to do with running the offense. That role will go to running backs coach Freddie Kitchens, who has been promoted to offensive coordinator. Kitchens was an under Bruce Arians last year. Kitchens, a former Mr Football for Alabama High School
Why this might be good news for Baker Mayfield
Freddie Kiitchens served as quarterbacks coach for Arizona from 2013-2015, during the resurgence of Carson Palmer. Kitchens working closely with Palmer during Palmer’s successful 38-21-1 stint with Arizona. This offense was characterised by significant percentage of deep throws down field. It saw Palmer throw for 16,782 yards. During this time Palmer threw 105 touchdowns and just 57 interceptions. This season is Kitchens’ 13th in the NFL and if we’re clutching a straws Kitchens, called an impressive game when he was allowed to call the plays in the Browns final pre-season game.
Why this might be bad news for Baker Mayfield
Mayfield is still in the infancy of his career, having been the starting quarterback for less than half a season. This will be Kitchens’ first offensive coordinator role in the NFL. In fact this will be Kitchens’ first coordinator role at any level!
Any large scale disruption to the routine of an NFL is likely to affect even the most established of signal callers.