Television personalities cautioned the passing of the crown to the Cleveland Browns. The naysayers warned against it as well. For the Browns and their fans, the NFL and the teams in it are teaching a valuable lesson.
When Freddie Kitchens was named head coach of the Cleveland Browns, some loved it, and some questioned how a guy with only nine games of offensive coordinating experience could land the position. With the talent assembled and how he helped the Browns turn the season around last year, many thought the hire was a great move.
Naming Kitchens the head coach will receive tons of backlash after a 1-2 start and poor play calling that even Kitchens admits is on him. The bright side of the 1-2 start, Kitchens has learned from one mistake. Baker Mayfield was holding on to the ball too long Weeks 1 and 2 so Kitchens inserted a game plan to get the ball out of quickly.
The problem versus the Los Angeles Rams Baker tends to hold the ball too long. Entering the fourth quarter, when Mayfield threw the ball within 2.5 seconds, he was 11-12, for 114 and a TD. Longer than that, 2-12 19 yards. Much of that is on Mayfield.
Mayfield’s need to leave the pocket instead of stepping up to make throws were of concern last season. When Kitchens was asked about Mayfield’s pocket presence last year after playing the Carolina Panthers, Kitchens said:
"“I would say this about a quarterback: if he knows where his eyes are supposed to be, then he is comfortable staying where he is at.”"
When a reporter asked Kitchens, can pocket presence be learned or if it’s a natural ability, he said:
"“I think it is experience. I think it is something that of course you can learn, but you have to see yourself do it wrong and then correct.”"
Despite escaping the pocket too soon on numerous occasions, the Browns were in the game late with 1st and goal from the 4-yard line with all three timeouts and 40 seconds on the clock.
Kitchens ran four consecutive pass plays, ultimately resulting in the game-ending interception. This after Kitchens called a draw play on 4th and 9 earlier in the fourth. Mayfield is now completing just 21 percent of his passes inside the red zone this season according to, Pro Football Reference, down 45 percent from last season where he completed 66 percent for 20 TDs and 0 INTs.
Baker just completed his 16th NFL start, and Kitchens has completed his third game as a head coach. Mayfield can learn from his skittish movement in the pocket. Kitchens can learn from his play-calling and situational awareness.
You can’t get the job without experience and you can’t get experience without the job. No phrase sums up the first three games for the 2019 Cleveland Browns quite like that phrase. Experience is the best teacher for this talented Browns team, and soon enough they’ll have enough lessons to pass the tests ahead.