2. Hiring Freddie Kitchens instead of a bigger name
When Hue Jackson was fired after the Browns eighth game, the speculation started as to who would be the next coach. There were some collegiate names such as Matt Campbell from Iowa State as well as Baker Mayfield’s coach at Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley. Once it became apparent that neither would be leaving their respective school, the NFL re-treads started to become possibilities.
The hottest names were Bruce Arians and Mike McCarthy who each came with their own issues. Arians had concerns due to his age and health whereas McCarthy had fallen out of favor due to rumors that he and quarterback Aaron Rodgers couldn’t get along.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
In the midst of those names popping up, interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens also emerged as a possibility. The former running back coach took over play-calling duties after Todd Haley was fired and he was the biggest reason for their improvement down the stretch.
He was so good that the Browns knew they would have a hard time retaining him as offensive coordinator beyond 2019 had they gone a different route. That was enough to push him ahead of all the other candidates as Kitchens became the head coach — the first hire in John Dorsey’s career as a general manager.
While there were some who questioned the move, it was actually brilliant. Baker Mayfield already had to switch play callers once in his career as Kitchens took over midseason. Hiring a new coach could have resulted in even more change which could have stunted his growth some. Keeping Kitchens on staff allows Mayfield to continue to work in the system he performed so well in as a rookie.
Now instead of being a few months into a new playbook, he’s going along with business as usual. On top of this, Kitchens already has the trust and respect of his players after proving to them last year that he knows what he’s doing. This was a stellar hire and one of their best moves of the offseason.