(official Browns press release)
By Andrew Gribble, ClevelandBrowns.com Senior Staff Writer
13-year NFL coaching veteran helped turn around Browns offense in 2018
The Browns on Saturday named Freddie Kitchens, a 13-year NFL coaching veteran who helped turn around Cleveland’s 2018 season after taking over as offensive coordinator, the team’s 17th full-time head coach.
Kitchens, 44, takes over following a year in which he began as the Browns’ associate head coach/running backs coach and finished as the coordinator of one of the league’s most improved offenses over the second half of the season.
“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, who was the seventh of seven candidates to formally interview for the job, will be introduced as head coach Monday at a noon press conference inside the 7UP City Club at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“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 took over as Cleveland’s offensive coordinator following the Week 9 dismissals of head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Under Kitchens’ watch, Cleveland’s offense made a dramatic turnaround, averaging better than 395 yards per game and executing to near perfection in the red zone en route to posting a 5-3 record over the final eight games. Cleveland surrendered just five sacks during the second half of the season — by far the lowest of any team in the league — compared to 33 in the first half. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,254 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions compared to a mark of 58/1,471/8/6 in the first half. Rookie Nick Chubb averaged 84.75 rushing yards per game and eight different receivers caught a touchdown pass.
“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. 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, a Gadsden, Alabama, native who played quarterback at the University of Alabama, broke into the NFL in 2006 as a tight ends coach with the Cowboys under Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells. He held the same position with the Cardinals from 2007-12, working under Ken Whisenhunt, before transitioning to quarterbacks coach from 2013-16 when he worked under Bruce Arians. He was running backs coach in his final year in Arizona before making the move to Cleveland.
Kitchens worked closely with Carson Palmer in Arizona during some of his most productive seasons. Palmer set the Cardinals record for passing yards (4,671), touchdown passes (35) and passer rating (104.6) during Kitchens’ stretch as quarterbacks coach from 2013-16. In 2015, the Cardinals had the top-ranked offense in the NFL for the first time in team history and set numerous single-season team records including points (489), touchdowns (59), touchdown passes (35), total net yards (6,533) and first downs (373).
Before he came to the NFL, Kitchens spent seven years coaching on the college level with stops at Mississippi State (2004-05), North Texas (2001-03), Louisiana State (2000) and Glenville State (1999).
Kitchens was a star quarterback during his high school days, winning Alabama’s “Mr. Football” award after his senior season, and went on to start for three seasons at the University of Alabama. He finished his collegiate career ranked third in school history in career attempts, fourth in career passing yards and fifth in career completions.
Kitchens and his wife, Ginger, have two daughters, Bennett and Camden.