The rise of Freddie Kitchens from unknown position coach to the Cleveland Browns head coach is one of the most interesting stories in the NFL.
But the meteoric advancement hasn’t seemed to shift Kitchens personality. Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry said as much at minicamp of the one-time running backs coach in Cleveland.
“I don’t think he even realizes he’s the head coach,” Landry said. “He’s still got the same personality, the same demeanor.”
In a locker room full of big personalities like Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr., it’s uncertain if that’s necessarily a good thing or not. But Kitchens has drawn rave reviews from those he has coached in the past, like Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer.
“It was fun for me, this past season, to see the league get a glimpse of the quality of coach he is. I’m looking forward to watching his impact on Cleveland and how he takes on this new role and challenge,” Warner told WKYC. “I believe the players are going to love playing for him and he is going to do a great job of putting a great product on the field, but more importantly, helping grow young men, on and off the field.”
Kitchens gained popularity when he took over the offensive play calling last season and the Browns finished 5-3, delivering some hope for the future. Much of that was because of the play of No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, who saw his play jump to the next level.
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According to ESPN, Baker Mayfield‘s completion percentage climbed from 58 percent to 68 percent, his yards per attempt from 6.6 to 8.6 and his Total QBR from 36 to 70.
“I was just the guy directing the choir, per se,” Kitchens said. “In church, you got the choir director, but it’s the choir that gets the credit in that setting. Here everybody wants to give me the credit.
Kitchens will continue to call the plays, despite hiring offensive coordinator Todd Monken in the offseason from Tampa Bay, where he engineered the NFL’s top passing offense.
“I like having fun. I don’t know why it has to feel like such drudgery all the time,” Monken said. “Who needs more 5-yard plays? How can we be explosive? That’s what the game is about, man. People like big plays. I like big plays.”
Landry dealing with an injury
Landry has been banged up this offseason and is missing minicamp this week.
When asked about his ailment by reporters on Tuesday, Landry didn’t go into detail but stressed that it’s minor, noting that he’ll be ready for training camp.
Landry knows how to take care of himself. He has the distinction of being one of the NFL’s most durable at his position. He hasn’t missed a game in his career — quite the feat for a wide receiver.
Landry finished just under the 1,000-yard mark in his first year in Cleveland, catching 81 balls for 976 yards and four touchdowns. The yardage total was the lowest since his rookie season.