BEREA — Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens made it clear Thursday he has the back of rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, even if his allegiance comes at the expense of a fellow member of the NFL coaching fraternity.

Kitchens passionately defended the postgame comments Mayfield made Sunday, when the No. 1 overall draft pick explained he "didn’t feel like talking" to former Browns coach Hue Jackson because he had a problem with Jackson joining the Cincinnati Bengals as a special assistant to Marvin Lewis on Nov. 13 after being fired by Cleveland on Oct. 29.

Mayfield kept his handshakes with Jackson brief before and after the Browns defeated the Bengals 35-20 to snap a 25-game road losing streak and win consecutive games for the first time since 2014.

"I don’t have a problem with Baker saying anything like that," Kitchens said during his weekly news conference. "The guy spoke what he felt to be true, and I don’t know when it became big news to speak the truth. OK?

"If that’s what he feels, then he should voice it. I mean, 'Hard Knocks' is in here. Everybody’s looking for a story. Well, he’s giving you a story. He’s telling you the truth. Everybody’s wanting an inside look of the truth. Well, hell, that’s the truth.

"But suddenly it’s big news if we don’t want to turn it into a Kumbaya after the game and turn it into fist-bumps and hugs. I don’t think Baker disrespected anybody on what he said."

ESPN analyst and former NFL offensive lineman Damien Woody disagrees with Kitchens and said Monday on "First Take" Mayfield "needs to grow up." Woody also argued Mayfield is a hypocrite for ripping Jackson because the quarterback transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma.

Mayfield responded to Woody and took shots at Jackson with the following Instagram comment: "Not even comparable … I didn’t lose 30+ games be fake and then do that … I wasn’t gonna have a scholarship [at Texas Tech]. Good try though buddy."

Kitchens said he was unaware of Mayfield calling Jackson "fake" on social media.

"I don’t know anything about that, so I’m not going to speak for that," Kitchens said. "But, again, I promise you this: Baker’s not going to blow smoke up anybody’s ass. So if he said it, that’s what he feels, and I’m standing behind Baker Mayfield."

On Wednesday, Mayfield said he didn't regret blasting Jackson but stopped short of explaining why he called the coach fake.

"There’s things that happened inside the building," Mayfield said, "but there’s no reason to get into detail with it."

Award time

Mayfield was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for November, joining offensive tackle Joe Thomas (November 2007) and quarterback Tim Couch (October 1999) as the only Browns to receive the honor.

Mayfield caught fire and the Browns went 2-1 in November on the heels of Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley being fired a month ago.

Mayfield completed 73.9 percent of his passes for 771 yards and nine touchdowns with one interception, took two sacks and posted a rating of 129.5 in the Browns’ three November games with Kitchens calling the plays. In those games, the Browns (4-6-1) lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 37-21 (Nov. 4), then defeated the Atlanta Falcons 28-16 (Nov. 11) and Bengals.

Kitchens said a key to the recent success has been having "an open line of communication" with Mayfield.

"He has gotten a good handle on each game plan every week we have played," Kitchens said. "I expect nothing else this week. We're not holding things back on Baker. We want to continue to improve his development. You can’t baby a quarterback into this thing. You have to throw him out there and see what sticks, and then it's my job and the rest of the offensive staff’s job to decide what he's comfortable with at the end of the week. He has to be honest and tell me what things he's not comfortable with."

Role reversal?

Kitchens, a former Alabama quarterback, told rookie running back Nick Chubb, a former Georgia standout, he could call the plays Sunday against the Houston Texans (8-3) if the Crimson Tide lose to the Bulldogs in the SEC title game Saturday.

"He said that if Georgia wins, he'd let me calls plays as if he has no belief that we'll win," Chubb said.

"I changed the play today to 'Roll Tide,' so he wouldn't even run the play," Kitchens said with a laugh. "I had to come up with something, and he wouldn't even bet me anything."

If Alabama beats Georgia, Kitchens said he'll get nothing from Chubb.

"Just kind of a charity deal there," Kitchens said.

Extra points

• Kitchens was asked if he has considered interviewing for the Browns' head coaching job. "I have never advertised for a job, and I never will advertise for a job," he said.

• Right guard Kevin Zeitler will play in his 100th career regular-season game Sunday. In the midst of one of his better seasons, Zeitler would like to make his first Pro Bowl. "[When] you look at the O-linemen, guys who have consistently made it are probably going to get the first vote," he said. "It's something that I guess in my mind is like I can't base how I do off getting elected. If it happens, great, I would love to have Pro Bowl."

• Wide receiver Jarvis Landry has just 11 catches on 17 targets for 102 yards and no touchdowns in the past three games. "As a competitor, I want to do my part," Landry said. "I don't want to be one of those guys that came here and got a check and didn't earn it. I want to earn my check. But at the same time, it is translating into wins. For me, that's what's most important."

• Starting center JC Tretter (high ankle sprain) and rookie guard/center Austin Corbett (foot) didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday.

 

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.