When the Cleveland Browns take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers it will have some personal significance for the two head coaches, Freddie Kitchens and Bruce Arians
Preseason football is important and meaningless all at the same time. You want to see your starters perform well, but you really don’t want to see them play too much. Maintaining their health trumps winning. The majority of the games are played with backups and the backups to the backups. Finding any significance to these preseason games can prove to be an arduous task sometimes.
There will; however, be some personal significance for the head coaches involved in tonight’s preseason game. Although neither of the head coaches will admit it, as they don’t appear to be the sentimental types. They do share a unique history that ties them together.
Bruce Arians was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals while Freddie Kitchens was one of his assistant coaches. However, this is deeper than a former assistant facing his old boss, that scenario is fairly commonplace in the NFL coaching landscape.
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
Their connection actually goes back to 22 years ago, when Kitchens was slinging the rock while playing quarterback at the University of Alabama. Who was Kitchens’ offensive coordinator? You guessed it, B.A. himself, Bruce Arians.
Just based on their colorful personalities, it’s not hard to imagine that they would have had an interesting relationship as player and coach. Arians even nicknamed his senior quarterback “Thick”. When asked how he came up with the nickname, Arians chuckled and said: “he was the thickest quarterback in the SEC, that’s for sure”.
Even after Kitchens graduated from Alabama and began his coaching journey the two always remained in contact. Kitchens bounced around as a college coach for seven years before making his way to the NFL as an assistant coach. Arians had himself been coaching in the professional ranks since the year after he was Kitchens’ offensive coordinator.
As things tend to do in life, the two coaches paths crossed yet again. This time it was in Arizona when Arians was hired to be the head coach of the Cardinals. Kitchens had spent the previous six seasons as the Cardinals tight end coach. Arians retained his former player and named him the quarterback coach. Kitchens remained on Arians staff for the duration of his stint in Arizona.
Their relationship dynamic has changed over the years. First, they started out as player and coach. Then they became friends. Later in the NFL, they became colleagues. Tonight, they officially become adversaries. This is NFL coaching equivalent to coming full circle.
It’s hard to imagine these two being anything less than friendly with each other. Although, competition can strain any relationship. Luckily for them, this is just a preseason game.