The Cleveland Browns did not wait long to move on from the Freddie Kitchens Experiment, reportedly firing Kitchens after a single season, the team announced on Sunday.
Kitchens was promoted to offensive coordinator last season under interim Gregg Williams after Cleveland fired Hue Jackson and was retained as the full-time head coach for 2019.
The Browns entered the season with high expectations and the season was a complete disaster. Kitchens and Cleveland went 6-10 in 2019 and their losses were marred by dumb mistakes and sloppy on- and off-field situations.
There was some thought that GM John Dorsey could also be in trouble. He gets tagged for hiring Kitchens, because that's how these things work. He traded for Odell Beckham and that did not work out in the slightest. He trusted the offensive line and that group was a disaster. However, Dorsey issued a statement as well, indicating his job status should be safe.
When the Browns hire their next head coach, it will be their seventh full-time coach since 2009. Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine, Jackson and Kitchens have all briefly graced the sidelines for Cleveland.
The 2019 regular season is in the books and there's a lot to go over. Fortunately Will Brinson, John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough are here to break everything down on the Pick Six Podcast. Listen below and be sure to subscribe right here for daily NFL goodness.
The Browns are a fascinating situation, because there is a ton of talent here. Baker Mayfield took major steps back this season, but he's a former No. 1 overall pick who flashed in a big way last season and just never got comfortable in the Browns offense.
I would anticipate that someone like Ron Rivera or Mike McCarthy -- a veteran head coach with a track record of establishing a culture and winning football games -- would appeal to Cleveland after yet another flame out from their flavor of the month.
Kitchens is the fifth coach fired since Jimmy and Dee Haslam bought the team. This is a bit of a dicey job to take -- you better be prepared for big expectations and the possibility of not fulfilling them resulting in an angry ownership group.
It's also possible this job is like the 49ers was before Jim Harbaugh landed in San Francisco -- a talent-laden roster that's a sleeping giant if the right coach arrives.
Kitchens finished 6-10 this season and the Browns averaged just 20.9 points per game, good for 22nd in the league. When you hire an offensive mind and have an ascending young quarterback, that won't cut it. On defense they weren't much better: Cleveland surrendered 24.6 points per game, good for 20th in the NFL.
The Browns actually profiled as a 6.2 win team based on their point differential, so it's not like they drastically underachieved here. But Cleveland was installed as the division favorite by Las Vegas and considered one of the five most likely Super Bowl contenders by the guys in the desert. Suffice to say ownership and the front office was hoping for more than a six-win season.
Like last year, there was no momentum to close out the year. Nick Chubb even had his rushing title stolen at the last second when Derrick Henry ripped off a 53-yard touchdown run for the Titans late on Sunday. Both Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry topped 1,000 yards for the season, but it was largely an unimpressive effort by the receiving corps.
The Browns season was also marred by an ugly public scene involving Myles Garrett wildly swinging his helmet at Mason Rudolph. Kitchens, as he noted, doesn't coach penalties or fighting, but it's hard not to pin his players' behavior on him when you see something like that.
Mayfield's drop off is the biggest indictment of Kitchens. After setting the record for touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback, Mayfield saw his interceptions spike, his touchdowns crater, his yards per pass attempt fall off a cliff and with another rough performance on Sunday against the Bengals, his completion percentage fell below 60 percent for the season.
Firing another coach after a single season feels crazy and very Browns-y, but it's not difficult to justify moving on from Kitchens after this nightmare 2019.