Browns hire OC Kitchens as new coach


Stories by Tom Withers - AP Sports Writer



Cleveland Browns new NFL football head coach Freddie Kitchens, right, answers questions after a news conference, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Browns new NFL football head coach Freddie Kitchens, right, answers questions after a news conference, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)


Cleveland Browns new NFL football head coach Freddie Kitchens answers questions during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)


Cleveland Browns new NFL football head coach Freddie Kitchens answers questions during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)


Browns’ Kitchens hanging on to play-calling duties as coach

CLEVELAND (AP) — Freddie Kitchens ran some Wishbone formation, pulled off a few trick plays and had wide receiver Jarvis Landry throw passes.

Cleveland’s offense was unpredictable, imaginative and wide-open under Kitchens last season.

It will be again.

Kitchens said Monday he will continue to call plays as Browns coach despite hiring former Tampa Bay coordinator Todd Monken to oversee his offense next season.

Although he had little experience as a play-caller, Kitchens proved to be adept at reading defenses and designing plays during eight games as the team’s interim coordinator in 2018.

Monken, who guided the NFL’s top-ranked passing attack last season, called plays for the Buccaneers but agreed to surrender that role to work with Kitchens.

“I’m very impressed that Todd made that decision,” Kitchens said. “He showed an investment in me and showed an investment in what we’re trying to build and the vision where we’re taking this thing. He made a decision based on people. Our decisions here are going to be made on people.”

Since being hired by the Browns, Kitchens has been quickly assembling his staff, a chore he said “is the most important time for me as a head coach, it is the staff to build.”

Along with Monken, Kitchens hired former Arizona coach Steve Wilks as his defensive coordinator.

The 49-year-old Wilks was recently fired after going 3-13 in one season with the Cardinals. But he’s got a deep defensive background, spending 12 years as a secondary coach before becoming Carolina’s coordinator in 2017.

He succeeds Gregg Williams, who was not retained by Kitchens.

“When I see a guy that has a tremendous football acumen, is very diverse in his ability to use personnel, then why wait?” Kitchens said of hiring Wilks. “It is everything that I want, so we didn’t wait. And I like guys that strive to be great and I think that Steve does that. I also like guys that strive to have an environment of learning and strive to have an environment of listening, being together and being a part of a team.”

Mike Priefer will coach Cleveland’s special teams after eight years with Minnesota.

While his on-field coaching background is sound, Priefer was suspended by the Vikings in 2014 after an investigation into claims by former punter Chris Kluwe showed that Priefer made a homophobic remark during the 2012 season. Priefer later apologized and had his suspension reduced.

Browns general manager John Dorsey feels Priefer, who was born in Cleveland, has atoned for the misstep.

“My faith tells me everybody should have second chances,” Dorsey said. “I think Mike Priefer is a very qualified individual. He’s a United States Naval Academy graduate. I think his son is a United States Naval Academy graduate. I think he is an exceptional special teams coach. I think he’s paid his price. I think he’s excited as heck to be here.”

Kitchens also added Stump Mitchell (running backs), James Campen (offensive line), Ryan Lindley (quarterbacks), Jody Wright (special assistant) and Jim Dray and Tyler Tettleton (offensive quality control) to his staff.

Mitchell spent the past two seasons as the Jets running backs coach. He played nine seasons in the league.

Dray played tight end for the Browns from 2014-15.

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns didn’t have to go far to find their new coach.

Freddie Kitchens was already in the building.

The 44-year-old Kitchens, who had a dazzling eight-week run as interim offensive coordinator, is finalizing a contract to become Cleveland’s ninth coach since the franchise’s 1999 rebirth, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not commenting on the imminent hire.

As of late Wednesday night (Jan. 9), the Browns still had not officially announced Kitchens as their coach.

However, there are no obstacles blocking his hiring and he’s expected to be introduced at a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 10.

The Browns selected Kitchens over six other candidates, including Gregg Williams, who went 5-3 as Cleveland’s interim coach but is not being retained. The first candidate to interview for the coaching vacancy, Williams, who served as the team’s defensive coordinator, issued a statement thanking Browns fans for their support.

“I want to personally reach out to all the Cleveland Browns fans and the people of Cleveland to say thank you for your support,” William said. “It has been an honor to coach this team and we loved living in this community with the finest, most passionate fans in the world. I am proud that we were able to help get the Browns back to the winning tradition the fans deserve.

“I am humbled to have worked for such a storied franchise and will always love the city of Cleveland, this city deserves a winner! Please continue to support this team and the incredible group of men. I wish you all the very best and always remember #Comegetsome!”

Kitchens has no previous head coaching experience, but his work with Cleveland’s offense — most notably quarterback Baker Mayfield — in the season’s second half vaulted him ahead of the other six candidates interviewed by the Browns, who were looking for the right coach to lead them following a stunning turnaround season.

Kitchens will get the chance.

Under his leadership, Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, threw 19 of his NFL rookie record 27 touchdown passes while erasing any doubt that he could be the coveted franchise quarterback that has eluded the Browns for decades.

Kitchens and Mayfield formed a strong relationship during their time together, and Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam along with general manager John Dorsey are counting on the pair taking Cleveland to new heights.

It’s a spectacular rise for Kitchens, who began the season as the team’s running backs coach. He took over the Browns offense when coordinator Todd Haley was fired an hour after coach Hue Jackson’s dismissal on Oct. 29 and Kitchens quickly showed he had coaching chops.

He revamped the offensive scheme, using multiple formations and tweaking the game plan to include calls that he knew his players were comfortable running. Kitchens, who was a three-year starting quarterback at Alabama, wasn’t afraid to be creative as he used wide receiver Jarvis Landry on running plays and to throw passes, and he got major production from rookie running back Nick Chubb, left tackle Greg Robinson and receiver Breshad Perriman — three players under-utilized by Jackson and Haley.

Kitchens and Williams kept their players focused and motivated following the mid-season coaching change and the Browns went 7-8-1 following an 0-16 season in 2017 under Jackson.

As the team’s success grew, Kitchens never campaigned to be Cleveland’s coach but leading a team was always a goal.

“Definitely. No doubt,” he said. “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?”

The barrel-chested Kitchens became a fan favorite in a city that loves underdogs.

“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.”

Kitchens is the fourth coach hired by the Haslams since they bought the team in 2012.

UPDATE: Browns’ Kitchens hires Browns Wilks, Monken as coordinators

CLEVELAND (AP) — New Browns coach Freddie Kitchens has hired Todd Monken as offensive coordinator and Steve Wilks to run his defense.

Monken spent the past three years with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers ranked first in passing yardage per game (320.3) and were 12th in points. Monken called plays, but Kitchens is expected to keep that duty following his eight-game run as Cleveland’s offensive coordinator.

Wilks was recently fired after going 3-13 in one season as Arizona’s coach. He has a deep defensive background, spending 12 years as a secondary coach before becoming Carolina’s coordinator in 2017.

He succeeds Gregg Williams, who was not retained by Kitchens.

Mike Priefer will coach Cleveland’s special teams after eight years with Minnesota.

Also, Kitchens added Stump Mitchell (running backs), James Campen (offensive line), Ryan Lindley (quarterbacks), Jody Wright (special assistant) and Jim Dray and Tyler Tettleton (offensive quality control) to his staff.

Cleveland Browns new NFL football head coach Freddie Kitchens, right, answers questions after a news conference, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/01/web1_122133198-c9631e98064344679b4f3fc1c4e7ad92.jpgCleveland Browns new NFL football head coach Freddie Kitchens, right, answers questions after a news conference, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Browns new NFL football head coach Freddie Kitchens answers questions during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/01/web1_122133198-c9cc9cc5de064cf4aa19e092a452f199.jpgCleveland Browns new NFL football head coach Freddie Kitchens answers questions during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Browns new NFL football head coach Freddie Kitchens answers questions during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/01/web1_122133198-9c91245c972447a8ba3a343996d2d14c.jpgCleveland Browns new NFL football head coach Freddie Kitchens answers questions during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Stories by Tom Withers

AP Sports Writer

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