CLEVELAND — At long last, five days after they leaked word that he’d been hired, and two days after they publicly announced he’d signed his contract, the Browns formally introduced head coach Freddie Kitchens during a press conference on Monday.
Here’s what we learned about the 17th coach in Browns history:
1. Kitchens will continue to call plays
Even though the team has hired offensive coordinator Todd Monken from Tampa Bay and its high-flying offense, Kitchens — who had much success with rookie Baker Mayfield in the second half of the season — will continue to call plays.
2. He won the job on the field
Dorsey admitted Kitchens was not on his original list of coaches. The Browns’ search committee met for nine weeks, and during that time Dorsey said that Kitchens’ resume was on display every Sunday, and that as a result of the team's success, the committee identified him as a candidate early on. Kitchens said that he knew he had a real shot at the job the moment Dorsey invited him to interview for it. Dorsey called the committee's recommendation to hire Kitchens unanimous.
3. Why didn’t the Browns’ hire interim coach Gregg Williams?
Dorsey praised Williams, who went 5-3 in an interim role, but said the committee considered Kitchens a better bet on the team’s future.
4. His philosophy: Play to the team’s strengths
Kitchens declined to take credit for the offense’s resurgence in the second half of the season when he started calling plays. “The offense was whatever they want it to be,” he said. “It was not me. I was just the guy directing the choir.”
5. Baker Mayfield’s name didn’t come up for 31 minutes
It was Kitchens who brought it up off the cuff, and when asked a little later about the relationship, he talked about trust and respect as the key. (Or if we were to put it in Baker-speak: not being fake.) When asked about the quarterback’s input, Dorsey did not say that Mayfield had any role in the hiring. Dorsey called the hiring a senior management decision.
6. He was a Browns fan growing up
"I grew up in Gadsden, Alabama – it was Alabama football. But on Sundays, you had to do something other than go to church and eat a lot. When the Cleveland Browns were on television, I was watching the Cleveland Browns. I liked their uniforms. I love the helmet. I like the simplicity of the helmet. Hopefully, we do not ever change that."
7. The new HC didn't see himself as a popular choice
Kitchens referenced those who looked skeptically at his meteoric rise from running backs coach to head coach. "It takes some guts to do what they did and I appreciate that," Kitchens said. "I won’t let them down ... I know that I am not a popular choice. I understand that, and I don’t care."
8. The new coach is here to win
Obviously, right? But he was emphatic. "It drives me crazy that people are happy with 7-8-1," the coach said. "It drives me literally crazy. If I was in a different setting, my vocabulary would demonstrate that. That is not acceptable. Nobody here wants that. We all understand that it was an improvement, but under no circumstances is that ever going to be acceptable. We only have one goal here and that is to hoist the Lombardi Trophy."
9. It's a little fuzzy who's reporting to who
When asked who Kitchens would report to, general manager John Dorsey did not answer directly and said they would work together. Which could be code for: the coach will report to the GM. Which could explain why...
10. Jimmy and Dee Haslam took a backseat on Monday
The owners of the Browns did not speak during the press conference, choosing instead to sit in the front row. What does that mean? One possible interpretation: the Haslams own it, but this is John Dorsey's team.