Freddie Kitchens Talks Baker Mayfield Relationship, Calls 7-8-1 Unacceptable

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2019

FILE - In this Dec. 23, 2018, file photo, Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens is shown before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Cleveland. A person familiar with the decision says the Cleveland Browns are hiring Freddie Kitchens as their coach.  Kitchens, who had a dazzling eight-week run as the team’s interim offensive coordinator, is finalizing his contract and will be named Cleveland’s ninth coach since 1999, said the person who spoke Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team is not commenting on the imminent hire. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

Freddie Kitchens had his introductory press conference as the new Cleveland Browns head coach Monday, and he made it clear he wants to build a winner in Cleveland. 

"It drives me literally crazy that people are happy with 7-8-1," he said, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. "I understand that's an improvement, but it's not acceptable."

"I relish the fact there's been more downs than ups since 1999," he added, per the team. "That ends today."

He also spoke on his relationship with Baker Mayfield and revealed that he would continue calling plays for the offense:

Kitchens also praised the front office and organization in general. 

"We've got the best support staff I've ever seen, anywhere I've ever been," he said, per Keith Britton of 92.3 The Fan. "When you have a desire to win, and everybody checks their ego at the door...we should be successful."

He also spoke about his personality and the type of environment he wants to set within the team: 

There is optimism in Cleveland surrounding the Browns. The team went 5-3 down the stretch and finished 7-8-1, Mayfield looked like the real deal in his rookie season, the team has young talent on both sides of the ball, and Kitchens appears to be popular with his players and has already put together an impressive staff, adding Todd Monken as his offensive coordinator and Steve Wilks as his defensive coordinator.

Expectations will be high for Kitchens and his Browns, which has not been the case in Cleveland for the past two decades. The Browns haven't had a winning season since 2007 and haven't reached the postseason since 2002. Coming into 2018, the Browns had gone 4-44 in the three seasons prior. 

The pressure on Kitchens, then, is to lead the Browns into a new and prosperous era. And he recognizes that the front office has thrown its chips behind him at such a critical juncture of the team's rebuild.   

"It takes some guts to do what they did. And I appreciate that," he said, per Britton. "I won't let them down. And all you have to do is sit back and watch. I understand I'm not a popular choice. And I don't care. You've got to block out the noise in this business."

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