Trick or treat!
With Halloween now passed and “Bloody Monday” in the books with the Cleveland Browns firing both head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, one good thing that may have come out of this is quarterback Baker Mayfield getting to bake in a new kitchen in the form of new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens.
Kitchens, the team’s former running backs coach, was a former high school QB standout in his native Alabama and went 22-13 as a starter for the Crimson Tide from 1993-97 before breaking into the coaching ranks in 1999 as a running backs and tight ends coach at D-II Glenville State in Glenville, West Virginia. From there, Kitchens would work as a grad assistant at LSU in 2000, running backs coach at North Texas from 2001-03, tight ends coach at Mississippi State in 2004 and running backs coach in 2005.
In 2006, the 43-year-old Gadsden, Alabama native would break into the NFL ranks as a tight ends coach under Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells and the Dallas Cowboys in 2006. Kitchens would move on to Arizona to coach the tight ends for Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals from 2007-12 before working with Carson Palmer as quarterbacks coach from 2013-16 and work with David Johnson as running backs coach in 2017.
If there are any doubts about Kitchens background lack of coordinator experience in the NFL, noted and well-respected Browns blog, Dawgs By Nature summarized Kitchens’ credentials in pointing out the coaches and players he has had a hand in developing.
“With an offensive mind, he was elevated to the QB coach in 2013 and held that position until 2016. He coached Carson Palmer in his Pro Bowl year of 2015 while with the Cardinals. Former Jacksonville Jaguars first-round pick Byron Leftwich was brought in to coach the QBs in 2017 and Kitchens was then switched to the RB coach where he tutored veterans Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, plus the youngster David Johnson.”
If there had been one thing that frustrated many Browns fans was the sometimes-clueless and head-scratching play calls of now former offensive coordinator, Todd Haley. In the one game that Kitchens called as offensive coordinator during the Browns 35-10 preseason-win over the Detroit Lions, one can glean that fans may see more of a mobile Mayfield on the edge and rolling outside the pocket more.
Again, this is just a pre-season game vs. Week 9 game of the regular season, but from the video below, which has every Mayfield throw and run, Browns fans may see more tight ends being used in seam and vertical routes, wide receivers on shallow crosses, and utilization of the running backs as receivers out of the backfield.
So, rough translation: good news for Duke Johnson, Seth DeValve and Davis Njoku. With just three healthy wideouts in Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway and the recently-signed Breshad Perriman, Mayfield may finally get into a play-calling rhythm with a caller such as Kitchens and use more play-action to attack downfield.
It’s no secret that the offensive line is a mess and that Mayfield has been getting sacked at an alarming rate, the best answer to this is to move Mayfield around more and take advantage of his mobility on the edge to offset the porous OL exposing him to further injury.
With Patrick Mahomes and the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs coming to town, Browns fans may get a glimpse of Baker’s new kitchen in Kitchens. Hopefully, it’ll result in Mayfield baking a few touchdowns for the Browns.