The Cleveland Browns were very busy during the first week of the off-season.
The club interviewed six coaches for the vacant head coaching position, starting with Gregg Williams on Tuesday and closing out with Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on Sunday.
In between, general manager John Dorsey and his committee held interviews with former Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, New Orleans Saints assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell and New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores.
But could the team’s next head coach be sitting just down the hall from Dorsey?
During his season-ending press conference, Dorsey revealed that the Browns would “eventually” interview current offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. It turns out that eventually is this week, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. And not only that, Rapoport says that Kitchens has a “realistic shot” at claiming the position:
The #Browns are not finished with head-coach interviews yet, as they are slated to talk to OC Freddie Kitchens this week. Should happen today or tomorrow, and he does have a realistic shot at it.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 7, 2019
Update: The Browns interviewed Kitchens on Monday:
We've completed our interview with offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens for our head coaching position— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 7, 2019
» https://t.co/KLYR4eK6yp pic.twitter.com/m6czhlFpJf
Kitchens became all the rage in Cleveland after being promoted from running backs coach to offensive coordinator at the midway point of the season. According to the team’s website:
Under Kitchens’ watch, the Browns offense improved in nearly every facet en route to posting a 5-3 record in the second half of the season. 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. The Browns turned nearly every red zone trip into a touchdown under Kitchens.
In addition, the offense also saw an uptick in their production, averaging 23.8 points per game (up from 21.1 points per game) and 395 yards of offense per game (up from 342 per game).
Dorsey has played it cool in regard to Kitchens as a viable option for the head coaching position since the end of the season. The Browns did deny other teams the opportunity to interview Kitchens for an offensive coordinator position, however, so it would appear that they are interested in retaining him in some fashion.