This year the Cleveland Browns will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their return to the NFL in 1999, following a four-year sabbatical after the previous version of the team moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens in 1995.
The Browns, however, have had very little to celebrate during that time. They have played one playoff game, which they lost, to Pittsburgh in January of 2003. The Browns have had only two winning seasons since their return, and they were winless in 2017.
But in 2018, the Browns finally showed some life, going 7-8-1, escaping last place, and getting inspired play from a group of young players led by quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was the top overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft. And now, the Browns are turning to the man seeing as the offensive mastermind of that run as their new head coach.
The Browns will name Freddie Kitchens their new head coach, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Wednesday. Kitchens, who has never been a head coach before, began the 2018 season as the Browns’ running backs coach. He was promoted to offensive coordinator after head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were fired in late October, while former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams became interim head coach.
Williams, who went 5-3 as coach, will not be retained by the team, ESPN said, even though Williams is the only post-1999 Browns coach to post a winning record during his time with the Browns. The Browns are counting on Kitchens to lead them during a period when they actually have a chance to contend in the AFC North.
Freddie Kitchens will be named new Browns head coach later today, per sources.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 9, 2019
The Browns, per ESPN, also interviewed New Orleans assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell, former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell, Minnesota interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores and Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, ESPN said. While initial reports, per the Inquisitr, called former Packers coach Mike McCarthy a favorite for the job, he was not interviewed.
The 44-year-old Kitchens formerly played quarterback for the University of Alabama, and he has been an assistant coach in the NFL since 2006, mostly with the Arizona Cardinals, until joining the Cleveland staff in 2018.
Previous Browns coaches, since their return to the league, are Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Terry Robiskie, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine, Jackson, and Williams. The Browns’ final coach before their move was Bill Belichick, who has been the coach of the New England Patriots since 2000, the new Browns’ second year back in the league.