Browns will reportedly name offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens their next head coach
Kitchens was promoted to offensive coordinator after Hue Jackson and Todd Haley were fired
The Cleveland Browns have apparently found their next head coach. According to a report from ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen, the Browns will announce the hiring of Freddie Kitchens -- who served as the team's offensive coordinator after the firings of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley -- as their coach on Tuesday afternoon.
Kitchens was one of several candidates to interview for the job, and in recent days it became clear that he was an inner-circle candidate along with Minnesota Vikings interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. It appears he did enough to impress the front-office tandem of John Dorsey and Paul DePodesta and will come away with the job.
With Kitchens calling the plays, the Browns also saw a massive spike in their offensive efficiency, as measured by Football Outsiders' DVOA. The 30th-ranked offense by DVOA upon Jackson and Haley's exit, the Browns eventually finished the season ranked 17th. They saw the single largest change in offensive DVOA from Week 9 through the end of the season, indicating that Kitchens, Mayfield, Chubb, and company really took off over the second half of the year.
It's difficult to suss out how much of that was due to Kitchens and how much was due to (a) Mayfield coming into his own after reliving Tyrod Taylor in Week 3 and getting his first start in Week 4; and (b) the front office's decision to trade Carlos Hyde, which thrust Chubb into the lineup. (Chubb's first start came in Week 7.) Kitchens has coached a several positions throughout his career (running backs, tight ends, quarterbacks), but he had been the team's running backs coach prior to being promoted to offensive coordinator under Gregg Williams, who stepped in as the interim head coach when Jackson and Haley were fired.
Williams was reportedly relieved of his defensive coordinator duties on Wednesday and is not longer with the Browns.
Kitchens himself was a quarterback at Alabama in the early-to-mid 1990s, and at the time of his departure he ranked fourth in the school's history in in passing yards. He spent several years as a position coach in college before becoming the Cowboys' tight ends coach in 2006. He was then hired by Ken Whisenhunt to coach the same position with the Cardinals in 2007, eventually got promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2013 when Bruce Arians took over, moved to running backs coach in 2017, and joined the Browns for the 2018 season.
Kitchens will now be tasked with overseeing the development of Mayfield, who looks like he has the potential to be one of the league's best quarterbacks. The Browns have a strong offensive line, plus Chubb and tight end David Njoku as strong offensive weapons, but need to fill out their wide receiver corps around Jarvis Landry. The team's defense has a few stars or potential stars as well in Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, and Larry Ogunjobi, and it will be interesting to see who Kitchens taps as his defensive coordinator because that coach will get to work with some high-end talent. The future is as bright for the Browns as it has been in a very long time, and Kitchens is apparently the man the front office thinks can get the most out of this group.
This post will be updated with more information.
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