Cleveland Browns: Freddie Kitchens not another Sean McVay wannabe

Cleveland Browns Sean McVay Freddie Kitchens (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns Sean McVay Freddie Kitchens (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Some may try to lump Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens as another Sean McVay wannabe, but in reality, it’s just not the case.

No, Freddie Kitchens wasn’t Sean McVay‘s Uber driver. Nor did he serve him a coffee at Starbucks.

Fox Sports’ Collin Cowherd tried to lump the Cleveland Browns new leader as another trendy hire based off McVay’s success, which is easy to say, but not necessarily true.

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It’d be easy to lump Kitchens as another body in the “McVay craze,” where teams give head coaching jobs to young, offensive minded coaches.

Sports in general is a copycat league. Remember when the Oakland A’s were the only team using analytics? When something works, everyone wants in.

The Bengals targeting Rams’ quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor. That’s a McVay hire. Kliff Kingsbury, the guy who ran Baker Mayfield off from Texas Tech and has a mediocre college coaching record? That’s a McVay Hire.

What did Kitchens and McVay have in common besides the fact they come from offensive oriented backgrounds?

The truth is that at 44, Kitchens is an NFL coaching lifer who made the most of his big break when he was tapped to be Cleveland’s offensive coordinator halfway through the season.

McVay started out as an assistant in 2008 at the ripe old age of 22. He was calling plays in Washington by his late 20s. If there was anyone to buy head coaching stock in, it was McVay.

By 31 he was hired to coach the Rams and for his 33rd birthday present (birthday is Jan. 24), he could very well have the Rams on the way to the Super Bowl.

Kitchens went through the NFL grinder en route to finally getting his first head coaching gig.

His first coaching gig was at a small college named Glenville State. He hung around the college game a few more years before finally moving on to an entry-level position with the Dallas Cowboys and Bill Parcells as a tight ends coach.

From there, he went on to Arizona, where he coached quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends over the course of 10 years.  Yeah, it was the NFL, but these are hardly glamours jobs.

His trajectory was that of a career assistant. Not as the man to hold the post once held by perhaps the greatest coach of all time, Paul Brown.

Perhaps if Kitchens looked like he came out of an L.L. Bean quarter-zip pullover ad, he’d more in demand.

Instead, he looks grizzled, like he’s been through the meat grinder. In essence, he looks Cleveland ( and we wouldn’t have it any other way).

Perhaps the second-most important position on a team belongs to the man who develops the franchise quarterback. If that’s the case, Kitchens seized his opportunity to exceed expectations with the owner and general manager watching every snap.

He exceeded expectations as Baker Mayfield went from a man running for his life behind a shoddy offensive line to the offensive rookie of the year candidate.

Mayfield was sacked 20 times between weeks 3-7.

After Kitchens became the coordinator, Mayfield was only taken down five more times the rest of the season. He also threw 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He ended the year with 27 touchdown throws and 14 picks.

And his footprint wasn’t just left on the quarterback. Kitchens replaced left tackle Desmond Harrison on the offensive line with Greg Robison. Nick Chubb became a major part of the offense with the former running backs coach calling plays.

Kitchens played quarterback at a high level (Alabama), something McVay never did. He’s played and worked under some of the game’s best known coaches in Nick Saban, Parcells and Bruce Arians.

People get overlooked. It happens. Perhaps it took Kitchens a little longer to rise in his profession, but he finally made it.

Next. 4 benefits of naming Kitchens head coach. dark

He’s far from being a sure thing, and the Browns may be looking for another coach in a year or two. But they had to give him this job. The offense is the reason this team won seven games, its most since 2007 (10).