Cleveland Browns: Freddie Kitchens is the wrong coach for the wrong time

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 3: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns returns to the field after a discussion with head coach Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns in the fourth quarter of a game at Empower Field at Mile High on November 3, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 3: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns returns to the field after a discussion with head coach Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns in the fourth quarter of a game at Empower Field at Mile High on November 3, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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If the choice was to promote Freddie Kitchens to head coach or having him walk away, the Cleveland Browns made a short-sighted choice.

Conventional wisdom holds that Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens was Baker Mayfield‘s choice during the offseason. After the Browns went 5-3 in the back half of 2018, the offense looked fresh and fun. Mayfield looked to be developing quite nicely.

In the offseason, the coaching search seemed to be a bit of a sham. Mayfield clearly wanted Kitchens. The Cleveland Browns clearly wanted to keep Mayfield happy. And Kitchens name was being rumored to be in demand for offensive coordinator positions.

It seems the Browns were left with an uncomfortable choice. Promote Kitchens to head coach or let him walk. This would have put the Cleveland Browns on the wrong side of their young quarterback (emphasis on the word young).

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It’s clear now that the Browns were penny wise and pound foolish.

Kitchens is the wrong coach for the wrong time. A coach like Kitchens can be a breath of fresh air for a quarterback who is already developed. They will have the pedigree to succeed despite the learning curve of a young head coach.

But that is not the case with Kitchens. He’s working with a quarterback who still needs to be developed. There’s nothing wrong with that. But in the process of developing Mayfield, it appears Freddie is not commanding the full attention, if not respect, of the rest of the team.

It is hard to watch this team because you can almost see the wheels spinning as the game goes on. The rhythm and pace of last year’s offense is long gone. And the key variable that has changed is Kitchens is no longer in a role where he can be completely focused on leading one side of the ball, he is now charged with leading the whole team.

Let me put it another way. If the intention was that keeping Kitchens would help develop Baker, then it has failed.

During the broadcast, Rich Gannon commented that at critical points in a game, it’s about the players not the plays. This was after a video replay clearly showed Mayfield either did not see or did not look for a wide-open (by NFL standards) Odell Beckham on the critical 4th and 4 that would have been a touchdown. But instead, it was an ill-advised pass to Jarvis Landry into double coverage.

Was Mayfield gunning it into Landry because he’s been drilled to stay on script and not freelance? Is he just not seeing the field? Are there too many voices in his head?

All of which begs the question, what exactly does Todd Monken do?

In Kitchens’ latest post-game press conference, he sounded like it was August and the team was implementing the offense. Why is the team working on route precision and ball placement and all the details of an effective red zone offense in November?

Before I ramble any more, I thought that tactically Freddie showed some discipline. Yes, the Browns traded touchdowns for field goals, but Kitchens took the points that were there. He is showing some signs of growing. But this team needs a coach that’s fully developed. Even if that comes at the objection of a quarterback who clearly is not.

The Cleveland Browns did not have time to wait for Freddie Kitchens to grow into the job. And apparently the obvious talent on the team is not good enough to overcome that lack of experience.

Next. Mayfield ignoring OBJ is a cause for concern. dark

I don’t know if it will, or should, happen this week. The front office would seem to have little confidence that defensive coordinator Steve Wilks or Monken is up to the job. Otherwise, it might have happened during the bye week.

But to paraphrase Macbeth, if it is to be done, then it is well if it were done quickly.

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