Following a 2019 campaign that saw them finish with a 6-10 record and miss the playoffs despite high expectations, the Cleveland Browns fired head coach Freddie Kitchens on Sunday after just one season. While the team's second-year quarterback, Baker Mayfield, arguably didn't get as much flak for the Browns' struggles, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant saw things differently, taking to Twitter to blame the 2018 first-overall draft selection for costing Kitchens his job.
On Sunday evening, Bryant replied to a tweet from Ian Rapoport, where the NFL Network insider revealed that he had just finished speaking to an "emotional" Kitchens, who supposedly felt he didn't get the "organizational support" he was expecting from the Browns. In response to this, the former All-Pro wideout criticized Mayfield, opining that the 24-year-old signal-caller turned Kitchens into a fall guy by underachieving and failing to properly utilize the talent around him.
"Baker mayfield plays the biggest part in this...had a stud cast around him under performed and got out performed by somebody he talked down on Danny dimes... big mouth and being a one read QB not going to cut it.. kitchens put the game in his players hands"As explained by ClutchPoints, Bryant was partly referring to Mayfield's comments prior to the start of the 2019 season, where he seemingly criticized the New York Giants for drafting Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick in this year's draft. While Jones had a strong rookie season as the Giants' new starting quarterback, Mayfield struggled for most of his sophomore campaign in the pros, registering 3,827 passing yards but completing only 59.4 percent of his passes, and throwing 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions for a 78.8 QB rating. This came after a rookie year where he tallied 27 passing touchdowns -- an NFL record for first-year players. For his part, Mayfield recently acknowledged his subpar performance in his second NFL season, noting that he didn't have everything "figured out" and promising to move forward and come back a "different animal" ahead of the 2020 campaign, as quoted by Heavy. The outlet also quoted the former Oklahoma Sooners star on his supportive comments regarding Kitchens prior to his firing.
"He truly cares about the players and putting them in the best position to win. It's not an ego thing to him. He wants us to be successful. Whatever happens, happens and we roll with the punches, attack next year."While Heavy also pointed out that Bryant might have been extra-critical of Mayfield due to the fact that the ex-Cowboys receiver played for Oklahoma State in his college days, the outlet cautioned that the young quarterback's "outspoken" personality could continue to draw the attention of detractors. Early in the 2019 season, former New York Jets coach Rex Ryan also chimed in regarding Mayfield, calling him "overrated as hell" on an episode of ESPN's Get Up!.