“I’m your new head coach, Freddie Kitchens. Let’s roll.” pic.twitter.com/ZmZn76KCUZ
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 12, 2019//
Freddie Kitchens isn't tempering expectations from his new office in Berea.
The new head coach of the Browns is haunted by a Super Bowl loss, and he wants to atone for it.
The Browns hope to benefit from Kitchens' mission. The two sides finalized a contract Saturday, prompting the team to formally name Kitchens the 17th full-time head coach in franchise history. An agreement had been reached Wednesday for him to take the job, but the Browns refrained from announcing the hire until the deal had been signed.
Kitchens' introductory news conference as coach is scheduled for noon Monday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
"It’s an honor to be named the head coach of the Cleveland Browns," Kitchens, who has had a remarkable rise since becoming the team's offensive coordinator midway through his first season in Cleveland, said in a news release. "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 [owners] Dee and Jimmy Haslam have granted me. [General Manager] 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.
"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. Our goal is to work extremely hard to earn the right to raise that Lombardi Trophy for our fans and this city."
Kitchens was the tight ends coach of the Arizona Cardinals during the 2008 season when they fell 27-23 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
The Browns, of course, have never advanced to a Super Bowl. Kitchens, 44, wants to change that and has already been working hard to assemble his coaching staff.
New York Jets running backs coach Stump Mitchell will join the Browns, per ESPN. SiriusXM NFL Radio had previously reported Mitchell would go to Arizona, where he used to work with Kitchens.
Tyler Tettleton, who worked in the Jets’ player personnel department, will join the Browns as an offensive quality control coach, Fox Sports reported. Tettleton, a former Ohio University quarterback, was a graduate assistant coach at Oklahoma when Baker Mayfield played there.
Former Cardinals coach Steve Wilks and the Browns were working on a deal Friday night to make him Kitchens' defensive coordinator, NFL Network reported.
Earlier Friday, Mike Priefer told the network he agreed to join the Browns as their special teams coordinator.
Looking for OC
Although Kitchens is expected to call the offense's plays, he's also looking to secure an offensive coordinator. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers OC Todd Monken and former Detroit Lions OC Jim Bob Cooter are reportedly scheduled to interview with the Browns.
Green Bay Packers run game coordinator/offensive line coach James Campen interviewed with the Browns on Saturday, according to ESPN.com. Campen has coached the Packers for 15 seasons, nine of which he spent working with Dorsey when the latter was in Green Bay's player personnel department.
But Kitchens is the centerpiece of it all now. He prevailed over six other candidates who interviewed for the head coaching position, including fellow finalist Kevin Stefanski, the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings.
"We had a deliberate and thorough process and one thing became evident — that Freddie is the best person to lead the Cleveland Browns," Dorsey said in the release. "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."
Rookie quarterback Mayfield and the entire offense excelled under the guidance of Kitchens.
In the first half of the season, the Browns averaged 21.1 points and 342.4 yards per game with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who, along with coach Hue Jackson, was fired Oct. 29. In the second half of the season, they averaged 23.8 points and 395.1 yards a game after Kitchens had been promoted from running backs coach/associate head coach to a first-time play caller.
The Browns finished 7-8-1, going 2-5-1 under Haley and Jackson, who went 3-36-1 during his 2½ seasons in Cleveland, and then 5-3 under Kitchens and Gregg Williams, who was promoted from defensive coordinator to interim coach.
Williams won't return despite playing a significant role in the Browns rebounding from the 0-16 disaster of 2017.
The Browns obviously concluded Kitchens deserves at least as much credit as Williams for their seven-win improvement, the largest turnaround in franchise history.
The Browns have their quarterback of the future in Mayfield and a respected GM in Dorsey. They're confident Kitchens will round out a coveted triumvirate.
"We are thrilled to announce Freddie Kitchens as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns," Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in the release. "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."
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.