The Cleveland Browns came into 2019 with all the hype in the world. Quarterback Baker Mayfield was fresh off of a 27 passing touchdown season, the most ever by a rookie signal-caller. They acquired arguably the most talented wide receiver in all of football, Odell Beckham Jr. Hell, they even brought a former rushing-title champ in Kareem Hunt for scraps on the dollar.
Yet, none of that was enough to help first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens retain his job even a day after the Browns 2019 season concluded.
Kitchens One-and-Done in Cleveland
When Freddie Kitchens was named the Cleveland Browns head coach this past offseason, many were surprised. However, just as many seemed to be optimistic.
Kitchens was elevated to the team’s offensive coordinator in late October. From that point on, rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield improved his game tenfold.
Cleveland caught a glimpse of the perceived magic brewing between Mayfield and Kitchens, and decided they wanted the relationship to shine on a grander stage.
The Browns hired Kitchens as their head coach this offseason, despite him having no previous head coaching experience. In fact, prior to his mid-season promotion to offensive coordinator the year prior, Kitchens had never served as more than a position coach.
To make matters worse, John Dorsey flexed his GM’ing prowess this offseason, essentially going all-in on talent. With the influx of superstars at Kitchen’s disposal, he was put in a precarious position to either guide this team to their Super Bowl aspirations, or fall on his face trying.
The pressure proved to be too big for Kitchens in 2019. After a loss to their inner-state rivals, the woeful Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17, dropping the team to 6-10 on the year, Kitchens rollercoaster tenure at the helm of the Cleveland Browns came to a crashing end.
Do the Pieces Fit in Cleveland?
Cleveland is undoubtedly talented. However, are they a good enough fit to build a cohesive team or just a pseudo NBA All-Star team looking to throw self alley-oops for 16 weeks?
Baker Mayfield digressed exponentially in his second NFL season. His prideful “me against the world” persona has gone from beloved to mocked seemingly overnight. Odell Beckham Jr. has proven to be a stand-up citizen since arriving in Cleveland, yet the drama that his name carries is proving to be a bit much for his production, having hauled in just six receiving touchdowns or fewer in three consecutive seasons.
John Dorsey has won headlines, not games, since arriving in Cleveland. He’s swung, and missed more times than not, on coaches and players. If he’s able to hold on to his job into 2020 he’ll need to revamp his approach. Making Baker Mayfield happy should be goal number one in Cleveland. That means building an offensive line that can protect him, and finding a head coach that can mix with his personality. Because in reality, if Mayfield proves to be a bust, then Cleveland’s just the same Ol’ Browns that we’ve come to know over the past decade.
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