Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens looks on during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio.

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Finally: Browns make hire of Freddie Kitchens as head coach official

GM John Dorsey praises Kitchens' consistency, leadership and integrity

January 12, 2019
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Daryl Ruiter-Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – After interviewing 6 other candidates for the position, the Cleveland Browns decided Freddie Kitchens was their next head coach on Wednesday.

Saturday afternoon they made it official.

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.

“We are thrilled to announce Freddie Kitchens as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” Dee and Jimmy Haslam said. “He did an outstanding job in his role as coordinator, and we know that will continue as he steps into the role of head coach. Freddie demonstrated all of the qualities that you want in someone who is leading your organization. He has unquestioned leadership. He is a man of integrity. He fosters a collaborative environment. He gets the most out of his players and our players loved playing for him. We are happy to have him leading the Cleveland Browns going forward.”

Kitchens will be officially introduced at a press conference Monday at noon at FirstEnergy Stadium

General manager John Dorsey led the coaching search that lasted less than 2 weeks.

“We had a deliberate and thorough process and one thing became evident -- that Freddie is the best person to lead the Cleveland Browns,” Browns General Manager John Dorsey said. “We saw firsthand what Freddie is able to do. He showed that he is consistent on a day in and day out basis and that he is a true leader. He helped unify our players in a tough time. He raised the bar for our offense last year, and I have no doubt he is going to raise the bar for our entire team.”

Kitchens has 20 years of coaching experience – 13 in the NFL and 7 in college – but he’s never been a head coach and the 8 games this past season were his first as a coordinator after spending much of his time as a tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks coach.

Kitchens was hired by former offensive coordinator Todd Haley, fired Oct. 29 along with former head coach Hue Jackson, as the team’s running backs coach last January.

Now he’s in charge of the entire team.

“It’s an honor to be named the head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” Kitchens said. “As I’ve said before, I think Cleveland and I get along pretty well. My family and I have really enjoyed our time with this organization and in this community over the last year. I’m grateful for the opportunity and responsibility Dee and Jimmy Haslam have granted me. John Dorsey led a thorough search process and I was excited about having the opportunity to come in and talk about my vision for the future of this football team. There are a lot of great people in this front office that I’m excited to continue to work alongside with a singular focus on winning.”

After Jackson and Haley were fired, Kitchens was elevated to offensive coordinator where he helped elevate the play of rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield and the entire offense.

Through his first 6 games 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 also 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.

Cleveland’s offense 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 of the season under Kitchens.

Mayfield wasn’t the only rookie to flourish in the second half of the season in Kitchens’ offense. Rookie running back Nick Chubb averaged 84.75 rushing yards per game and 8 different receivers caught a touchdown pass.

Kitchens, a Gadsden, Alabama, native who played quarterback at the University of Alabama after being named the state’s ‘Mr. Football’ as a high school senior, worked 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.

“I’ve been to one Super Bowl that didn’t end the way I wanted it to and that disappointing memory is what really drives me,” Kitchens said. “Our goal is to work extremely hard to earn the right to raise that Lombardi Trophy for our fans and this city.”