Source: Browns to name Freddie Kitchens head coach

Kitchens to become 9th full-time head coach in expansion era

Daryl Ruiter
January 09, 2019 - 12:20 pm

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns will name Freddie Kitchens their next head coach a league source confirmed to 92.3 The Fan Wednesday.

The hire is expected to be announced Thursday, including an introductory press conference that may be held at FirstEnergy Stadium instead of the team's training facility and headquarters in Berea, Ohio.

ESPN's Chris Mortenson was first to report the hire.

Interim head coach and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams along with special teams coordinator Amos Jones have been relieved of their duties a source confirmed to 92.3 The Fan. ESPN’s Pat McManamon was first to report the team parting ways with Williams.

The 44-year old Kitchens becomes the ninth full-time head coach in the expansion era for the Browns, and the fourth hire since the Haslams purchased the team in 2012.

Kitchens' ascent to the job was a quick one.

Kitchens, who joined the Browns last season as the running backs coach after spending the previous 11 years with Arizona, replaced Todd Haley as offensive coordinator on Oct. 29 after Haley and head coach Hue Jackson were fired leading to a dramatic turnaround in the second half of the season that saw the team finish 5-3 over the final 8 games.

The Browns declined multiple requests from teams to interview Kitchens for offensive coordinator openings last week and now Kitchens gets to live his dream of leading his own team as a head coach.

“Definitely. No doubt,” Kitchens said in December. “I heard the other day somebody say something about I wasn't ready to be a head coach. I mean, who the hell's ready to be a head coach? You have a resume that you check off the list and everything?”

Under Haley, rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft Baker Mayfield was 1-4 as a starter while completing 58.3 percent of his passes for 1,471 yards with 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He was sacked 20 times. Over the final 8 games under Kitchens Mayfield went 5-3 and completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 2,254 yards with 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions while being sacked just 5 times.

With Kitchens in charge of the Browns’ offense, they led the NFL in yards per play (6.86), tied for the league lead in yards per pass attempt (8.72), were fourth in yards per game (395.1), fourth in passing yards per game (285.9) and the 23.75 points per game ranked 14th over the final 8 games.

Kitchens has worked with some distinguished names over the years starting as a grad assistant under Nick Saban at LSU in 2000, a tight ends coach for the Cowboys under Bill Parcells in 2006, and he spent 11 years in Arizona where he worked for Ken Whisenhunt and Bruce Arians.

Cleveland interviewed 7 candidates for the job before deciding to hire Kitchens, who did not campaign for the job at season's end but did express his love for northeast Ohio, on Wednesday.

“I like it here and I like it here a lot, and everybody around here knows that I like it here,” Kitchens said last month. “I love the town of Cleveland. Cleveland and I get along well.”

Williams was the first to interview on Jan. 1 followed by former Lions and Colts head coach Jim Caldwell on Jan. 2, Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski Jan. 3, Saints assistant head coach and tight ends coach Dan Campbell on Jan. 4, Patriots linebacker coach Brian Flores on Jan. 5 and Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on Sunday.

Kitchens enters the job with high expectations.

The Browns are coming off their best season in over a decade and with another offseason of talent infusion and roster modifications to come, they should be positioned to compete for a playoff berth next fall and are already the trendy pick to win the competitive AFC North in 2019.