Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens is supplying the secret ingredient to success: accountability.
Franchise Quarterback…check. An abundance of weapons for said quarterback…check. Protecting said quarterback…che, ok that one is a work in progress. Ferocious pass rush…check. Run stuffing defensive tackles…check. Dynamic play-making defensive backs…check. Rabid fan base ready for success…all the checks.
What could be the missing piece of the puzzle? I will give you a hint. It’s something we haven’t had in Cleveland for over 20 years. It’s…accountability.
One of the big questions surrounding the Cleveland Browns this entire offseason was how would rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens be able to lead this team and handle all of the strong personalities? The answer is simple: By holding them accountable.
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The X’s and O’s are something we know Kitchens excels at. That much was evident in the second half of last season. But X’s and O’s are not enough to lead a young talented team to the next level. Being a leader means getting the absolute best out of those you are leading by any means necessary. Some lead by motivation, others by inspiration. Kitchens is taking an entirely different approach.
From the first whistle of camp Kitchens has made it abundantly clear, if you hurt the team there will be consequences. To quote the coach, “there’s consequences in life, there’s consequences on the football field” and “we don’t practice penalties”. This hasn’t just been lip-service either. You commit a false start penalty: Take a lap. A fight breaks out between the offense and defense: The entire team, including your star quarterback, is running sprints.
Kitchens is setting a tone and it’s bleeding down to the leaders of the team. Baker Mayfield, who doesn’t have any trouble taking charge of a team, has definitely taken note. He appears to be in lockstep with his head coach into getting this message across to the rest of the roster.
Mayfield has been seen in camp getting on his receivers for not blocking downfield or for quitting on a play and not working their scramble drill. He has even been heard barking at his offensive linemen to keep the defense’s hands down at the line of scrimmage.
This is what accountability looks like. It’s a refreshing approach and one that hasn’t been seen in Berea since the days of Bill Belichick.
Kitchens is putting his imprint on this team. The days of self-inflicted wounds and inmates running the asylum have come to an end, and will not be tolerated under Kitchens’ watch. It is truly the dawn of a new age in Berea.