The Cleveland Browns made it official on Saturday and named Freddie Kitchens as the franchise’s 17th full-time head coach.
“I’m your new head coach, Freddie Kitchens. Let’s roll.” pic.twitter.com/ZmZn76KCUZ— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 12, 2019
Kitchens will be formally introduced on Monday at a noon press conference at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Kitchens has spent 13 years in the NFL as an assistant coach, but this past season was his first with the Browns.
"Freddie demonstrated all the qualities you want in someone leading your organization." - Dee and Jimmy Haslam pic.twitter.com/3eFfK2wl7M— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 12, 2019
Hired to be the team’s running backs coach, Kitchens took over the offense after the mid-season firings of head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Kitchens quickly meshed with rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense was revitalized.
Cleveland’s offense made a dramatic turnaround, averaging better than 395 yards per game and executing to near perfection in the red zone en route to posting a 5-3 record over the final eight games. Cleveland surrendered just five sacks during the second half of the season -- by far the lowest of any team in the league -- compared to 33 in the first half. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,254 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions compared to a mark of 58/1,471/8/6 in the first half. Rookie Nick Chubb averaged 84.75 rushing yards per game and eight different receivers caught a touchdown pass.
In addition, the Browns averaged a league-best 6.86 yards per play during the second half of the season, while scoring 25 touchdowns, tied for sixth in the NFL.
The news drew praise from former coaches and players that have worked with Kitchens during his career, most notably from former quarterback Carson Palmer, who was coached by Kitchens for four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (per clevelandbrowns.com):
“Freddie will put a very disciplined team on the field year in and year out. He will pour his heart into his team and they will play with passion and love for one another and the game. Freddie is a true gem and a brilliant hire by the Browns.”
Kitchens still needs to fill out his coaching staff and being in charge is far different from focusing on just the offense.
But if the final eight games of last season are any indication, a brighter future is finally here for the Browns.