• Connor Watson

Why you can’t fire Freddie Kitchens… Yet.

Updated: Dec 11, 2019

With a narrow win over Buffalo on Sunday, has Freddie Kitchens bought himself a stay of execution?

© Photo by Erik Drost

Browns fans are no strangers to chaos, controversy or just down right disappointment. Since 1999 they’ve made the playoffs only once - in 2002 - exiting almost as swiftly as they entered, with a wild card loss.

The saving grace for Cleveland fans came in the form of a young Quarterback, Baker Mayfield who turned their 2018 season around and brought the Browns back into playoff conversations.

At the start of the 2019 season Cleveland had the same odds of winning the Super Bowl as the Packers and Cowboys.

So why are pundits, and Browns fans in particular, calling for head coach Freddie Kitchens’ job? And why might that not be the best option?

Mistakes, Misjudging and Mismanagement

The Browns are 3-6, tied with Denver and trailing the AFC with the likes of the Bengals, Dolphins and Jets hot on their heels.

For a team meant to be in playoff contention this is a far cry from their miraculous turnaround last year, which let them to end on a promising 7-8.

Offensive weapons for the Browns are not in short supply, with Odell Beckham Junior, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Kitchens has a wealth of options when it comes to plays.

Gone it seems are the creative plays of last year and instead come questionable decisions and one of the most penalised offensive teams in the league.

Kitchens has no prior experience of being a head coach and it shows, penalties and turnovers have been the bread and butter of the 2019 Cleveland Browns. Mix that with the multiple fines dished out to OBJ this year for uniform infractions, you uncover one of the biggest issues with this team, the Browns are undisciplined.

It has quickly become clear that both offensive play calling and his head coaching duties are proving too much for Freddie.

Kitchens has stated confidently that he has no intention of handing over play calling to Offensive Coordinator, Todd Monken, a man with several years experience in the head coaching position at the college level.

“You can write that if you want to, but that’s not even feasible. That’s not being considered. No, it’s not.”

So with more and more issues piling up and the Browns chances at making the playoffs slipping through their fingers, why wouldn’t you fire Freddie Kitchens?

Musical Chairs

The reason you don’t fire Freddie Kitchens, yet, is the message you send to other coaches.

Since 2009 the Browns have been through six head coaches, if you count Gregg Williams, so if they fire Freddie Kitchens that will make seven.

At the midway point of the 2019 season it seems likely that at least five teams will be looking for a new head coach. With only a handful of college coaches even considering a move to the NFL and a shortage of coordinators who have experience play calling and coaching, the competition is fierce.

Any chance of finding a strong replacement who has the potential of making the playoffs in their first year is slim.

On top of that, what coach would want to move themselves and their family to Cleveland with the knowledge that they could be fired without being given the chance to finish the season?

Right now, firing Freddie Kitchens mid season serves no purpose but to embarrass him and throw the team into yet more turmoil and potentially sink the back end of the 2019 season.

While the likes of Todd Monken make a very obvious internal replacement, this would be yet another staff shift for a young Baker Mayfield who needs all the support he can get to be the franchise quarterback Cleveland wants and needs.

Heading into the draft it looks almost certain the first three picks are all going to be QBs, Cleveland need to foster the talent they have. Provide Mayfield with stability and a strong positions coach and he at least has the chance to blossom over the next season. Move him away from the press and bring discipline to the locker room and you have the makings of real competition in the AFC.

Right now Cleveland are going into their easiest run of the season, facing off against the Steelers, Bengals and Dolphins.

My suggestion, let Freddie Kitchens stay, let him see out the full season. Watch his performance against lower performing teams and see if he can make the Wildcard spot and maybe further.

If he sinks, you have a great one year replacement in Todd Monken, promote him to head coach and give him a full year at least as well as the opportunity to get the team ready; build on the offensive weapons and start the 2020 season a strong offensive force.

The biggest takeaway for Cleveland is that you need to give whoever is the next HC, time. No one can plant a forest overnight and Freddie Kitchens certainly can’t win a Superbowl in one season.