The Cleveland Browns fired head coach Freddie Kitchens on Sunday.
Kitchens finished his first season as a head coach with a record of 6-10 after the Browns lost to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in the season finale.
He becomes the fifth full-time head coach that co-owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam have fired since purchasing the franchise in 2012. Kitchens also joins Rob Chudzinski (2013) as the second head coach fired by the Haslams after just one season.
The Haslams released the normal pre-fabricated statement about the decision, per clevelandbrowns.com:
“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. 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.”
General manager John Dorsey, the man who hired Kitchens, also released the standard statement after missing badly on the first head coach he has ever hired, per clevelandbrowns.com:
“I would like to thank Freddie for his dedication and efforts this past season. 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.”
The Browns hired Kitchens - who had never been a head coach on any level - after a surprising second-half run in 2018. Promoted to offensive coordinator after the team fired head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, Kitchens led a Browns offense that averaged 23.8 points per game, scored on 79.2 percent of its red zone trips and saw quarterback Baker Mayfield set a record for touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback.
It was a surprising hire, but one that appeared to make sense given the connection that Kitchens and Mayfield appeared to have developed.
Cleveland entered the 2019 season with unrealistic expectations for a team that has not posted a winning record since 2007 and has not made the playoffs since 2002. Things started out poorly with a Week 1 loss to the Tennessee Titans and never really got better.
The Browns never found a comfort level or rhythm on offense, however, which did not help Kitchens’ case. The defense was also a mess, although that is harder to pin on Kitchens, and there seemed to be issues on a weekly basis from a team filled with big personalities.
Despite all that, the Browns rode a three-game winning streak in November to remain on the cusp of a playoff berth. A loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 1 kicked off a string that saw the Browns lose four out of their last five game to end any hope of making the playoffs.
The Browns now embark on yet another head coaching search that will be filled with the usual quotes from the Haslams about how they are “committed to getting this right” and that they have “learned from their mistakes.” And Dorsey will be sure to chip in with more of the same, which will all mean nothing if the team keeps starting over again and again.
The excitement and hope of January is gone, replaced by the dreary despair of another December in Cleveland.
Which is all so very, very exhausting.