Freddie Kitchens will not want to hear this, but he’s already being regarded as a frontrunner for Coach of the Year this season.
In the latest odds released by Bovada, the Browns first-year head coach is listed at +1100 for the honor, which puts him second behind only the 49ers Kyle Shanahan (+1000) and just ahead of Rams skipper Sean McVay (+1200).
The pick says as much about Kitchens as it does the potential of the Browns. With Baker Mayfield taking over the QB position and talented players like Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson joining the team in the offseason through a variety of savvy moves by general manager John Dorsey, Cleveland is primed to break a 16-season postseason drought.
The Browns are just two years removed from an 0-16 campaign, but finished 7-8-1 last season, winning five of their final seven games. The storyline of the Browns going from complete laughing stock to playoff team would likely aid his candidacy for the top coach honor.
Bovada gave the Browns odds of +1800 to finish with the best record in the NFL next season.
Freddie Kitchens Not Buying Into the Browns Hype
When the Browns loaded expectations have been brought up this season, Kitchens has been very open that he’s not listening. In his first year as a head coach, he’s focusing on the process and doing things the right way.
“Right now, we are just a bunch of good players – a bunch of individuals,” Kitchens said. “Until we do something, that is all we are is a bunch of good players. This is the only business in the world that you hire 90 guys to fire half of them. We are not the Browns yet. We are not the Cleveland Browns yet. We are a bunch of individuals trying to get jobs. In the course of getting jobs, you see who is going to be able to come together and create the Cleveland Browns. When we walk out onto that field, we want everyone to be proud of the product that is out there.”
Kitchens led the offense last season after the firings of Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The offense, and in particular Mayfield, thrived. Cleveland averaged 23.8 points per game with Kitchens calling the plays and scored on 79.2 percent of its red zone trips.
Mayfield’s completion percentage rose from 58 to 68 percent, his yards per attempt from 6.6 to 8.6 and his Total QBR from 36 to 70, according to ESPN.
Odell Beckham Jr. Feeding Off Browns Hype
On the first day of training camp, Beckham was welcomed with massive cheers, which quickly evolved into a riot
While Kitchens might want to keep things in-house when it comes to expectations, Beckham has been vocal about what he wants from his first year with the Browns. That includes a lot of winning.
In a recent GQ article, Beckham addressed what makes him excited about the fresh start in Cleveland.
“I’m so excited about the opportunity that I have to be in Cleveland! I think it goes for everything I stand for when I talk about legendary,” Beckham said. “The Catch was cool. It was legendary, in a sense. But legendary is going to Cleveland and trying to win a championship. And I have to go back to this comment because I said something recently about being the Patriots: Who does not get into this game to be 11-and-5 or 12-and-4 every season, to win their conference, to win the championship, to go to the Super Bowl? What else would you do this for?”