CLEVELAND — Run. The. Ball. If there was one nonstop refrain from fans during this lost season of Cleveland Browns football, it was this. When you have the best running back in league Nick Chubb ... you run the damn ball. But too often, when the offense needed a spark the most, head coach Freddie Kitchens didn't call his running back's number.
Now that the rookie head coach has lost his job, the criminal misuse of the team's most dynamic offensive player will certainly haunt him.
It's not like Kitchens didn't know it. Throughout the season Freddie Kitchens agreed that Freddie Kitchens really ought to place a higher value on the run game.
On the third-and-1 halfback pass decision during the second Baltimore game:
“I should have ran the ball and just started the clock, but I had the confidence that is was an easy completion, and they made a good play getting their hands up.”
On not giving the ball to Nick Chubb once during the Rams game on the 4-yard line, down one score (the drive consisted of two incomplete passes to Jarvis Landry, an incomplete pass to Demetrius Harris, and an interception on 4-and-goal to Damien Ratley):
“Being critical of myself, I do wish I would have given the ball to Nick (Chubb) one time, but it did not happen. I should have run it once. Should have run it three times.”
The follow-up to saying that he should have ran the ball three times after the game:
“I was being facetious. I should have ran it one time. I should have. That is why I am kicking myself in the ass for it right now.”
On if he wants to get Nick Chubb more touches:
“I would love to get Nick more touches.”
On the interception during the second game against the Steelers:
“I do wish I had given and handed the ball off at the 30-yard line after the interception, just being perfectly honest with you. We took a shot to Jarvis down the left side. It was a 50/50 catch, but in hindsight, I should have handed the ball off, see what happens and play third down.”
On the good that came from the first game against the Steelers despite the brawl:
“You can’t lose sight of the good things that we did – the turnovers the defense had, the offensive production early in the game, the ability to run the ball when we needed to run the ball at the end of the game. Had some lapses there in between that we need to continue to try to run the ball.”
On James Conner’s return to the Steelers during their first match-up with the Browns:
“He makes their offense kind of go because they want to start everything with the run game, and they want to run the football because they know that is how you ultimately win in this division and in the NFL.”
On the red zone issues this season:
“It is a little bit of everything when you start talking about red zone offense. The best red zone offense is to be able to run the ball.”
Defending that the game is won on the ground:
“Listen, the game of football, you can make it as complicated as you want, but I like to simplify things. It is about running the ball, stopping the run and taking the ball away more than they get it from you. That is what it is with me. That is not real fancy, but that is the way games are won and lost.”
On what changed in the second half of the first Bengals game:
“We blocked them, and we ran the ball well. We blocked them well. When we run the ball, they usually block them very well and our running backs find the holes and crease them.”
On Kareem Hunt:
“We have two fine running backs back there and one that can create plays in space. I am glad we have both of those guys back there. Kareem, as we move forward, his role will continue to increase.”
On the importance of the running game in the NFL:
“We know that we have to be able to run the ball, and we have to be able to run the ball when we want to run the ball, but that is the case with every team in the National Football League. We have to create explosive plays. That is how you win football games.”
And finally, on if getting Nick Chubb more touches would include having Chubb on the field more in certain third-down situations:
“It would, yes. Or it could… (laughter).”
Whoever coaches this team next year, if you want to win, you know what to do.