Of the six rookie head coaches in the NFL, you could argue no one had a better ready-made setup than Freddie Kitchens, who was hired to lead the Cleveland Browns after just one season as the team's offensive coordinator. He had the quarterback in Baker Mayfield, an abundance of weapons with Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Nick Chubb, and what appeared to be a loaded defense. Surely, his first year as an NFL head coach would go smoothly.
On second thought, these are the Cleveland Browns we are talking about, an organization that maybe one or two coaches on the planet could realistically turn around in a short period of time. In that regard, Kitchens had a much taller task than many thought, a fact that's come to light through five games of the 2019-'20 season. The Browns fell to 2-3 on Monday night after getting beat the hell around by the San Francisco 49ers, 31-3. Mayfield was awful, as he has been all season, which hasn't helped. The quarterback is supposed to help the rookie head coach ease into his first year (see: Rodgers, Aaron and LaFleur, Matt), and Mayfield has done the complete opposite.
But Kitchens hasn't been much better. The Browns offense ranks 23rd in the NFL in yards per game, putting them behind teams like the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals, who are each starting rookie quarterbacks. They also average just 18.4 points per game, which ranks 25th in the league. Worst of all, they are losing the turnover battle (-3 in turnover differential) and they are completely undisciplined, racking up 48 penalties on the year, second only to the Atlanta Falcons.
If all that didn't make Kitchens sound lost enough, his postgame press conferences will certainly do the trick. Here's a clip from Monday's postgame presser, in which Kitchens chalks up the turnovers and penalties to "having too much ... stuff." Huh?
How we feeling, Browns fans? Does this sound like a guy who has any clue what he is doing? At least he wasn't smacking gum around this time. Guessing somebody got in his ear and told him that was a tough look:
It's not getting any easier for Kitchens either. How's this for a GAUNTLET?
The only thing saving them now is next week's Seattle game being at home, making it an absolute must-win if they want to keep this train on the tracks. Lose that and then you're 2-4 going to Foxboro, which means they'll be 2-5 heading to Denver, which is always a difficult place to play. Then you get a surprisingly good Buffalo Bills team followed by the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers on four days rest. Not ideal! But hey, at least they won the offseason.