Cleveland Browns’ head coach, Freddie Kitchens, is engineering his way through his first-ever pre-season training camp, writes our guest writer Owain Jones.
As he attempts to reinvent the Browns, we look at how he can turn them from rags to riches.
The head coach has had a historic rise through the ranks in Cleveland. After becoming the tight end coach for the Dallas Cowboys in 2006, Kitchens went on to spend 10 years in multiple positional coaching roles with the Arizona Cardinals.
The 44-year-old was then brought to Cleveland as their running backs coach under previous calamitous head coach Hue Jackson.
Kitchens was then promoted to offensive coordinator once Jackson’s deplorable tenure came to an end and was credited for both the improvement in the Browns’ offense and quarterback Baker Mayfield finishing runner up for Rookie of the Year.
The former Cowboys coach will now feel like he has won the lottery as he takes over the reins as head coach of this young, talented and energetic team.
Leader of men – Kitchens
The Cleveland Browns enter the 2019 season as the most hyped up and talked about team in years.
The Browns have their most talented roster since entering back into the NFL in 1999 and first-year head coach Kitchens’ first task will be to manage egos and expectations. This was summed up by Kitchens himself when he said “we haven’t won anything yet”.
Kitchens got the Browns job because of his ability to reinvent the offense from week 9 of 2018 onwards where the Browns went 5-3.
This last week, he has been telling them to live in the moment and not get carried away. He has called for the team to get their heads down and keep working.
Kitchens believes the players have bought into his philosophy as he introduces a new attitude and regime. There have been noticeable differences at training camp this year.
All players, while practicing or not, are in uniform and instilling individual responsibility.
Even smaller details such as having morning practices instead of the traditional afternoon have been overhauled. Kitchens has also brought in experienced coordinators in the form of Steve Wilks and Todd Monken.
Reports of unrest
As we come to expect, Cleveland doesn’t come without its issues.
And if the Browns’ training camp went by without any drama we would all be stunned.
It was reported there was tension growing between Kitchens and his offensive coordinator Monken. The NFL Network the head coach was planning to take a more prominent role in the offense than expected.
Monken stated last month the offense was still a work in progress.
He mentioned there had been some difficulties mixing his ideas with those of Kitchens. Despite the bust-up, make no mistake, this is Kitchens’ offense. Ultimately, that’s what he was hired for.
Kitchens is also keen to lay down the law and show he will not tolerate any disharmony.
During day four of training camp, defensive end Chad Thomas and tight end Pharaoh Brown came to blows and had to be separated. Players clashing is nothing new at training camps up and down America.
But Kitchens, keen to instill individual responsibility, punished the whole team rather than punish the individuals involved. Kitchens made the whole squad run sideline-to-sideline in 30-degree heat.
Kitchens is reinventing the culture in Cleveland and with a talented and skilled roster, there is a lot to be excited about in the Rust Belt. This Browns team is young and not many of their roster will have experienced this much expectation. The players, like the Browns franchise, lack playoff experience, it will be more difficult for them to reach the playoffs than many are predicting.
Kitchens is bringing much-needed leadership to the Browns.
Whether he brings success or failure, we can be confident that in 2019, the Browns will be pure box office.
Make sure to check out our AFC fantasy sleepers for the season ahead, written by Jack Humphrey.