"It really doesn’t concern me," Kitchens told reporters after Sunday's loss to the Denver Broncos. “It’s not my decision. I’ve never worried about it before, I’m not worried about it now, I’m not going to worry about it in the future. I’ll just do the best job I can do."
The Browns' loss, which came despite the Broncos starting the unheralded Brandon Allen at quarterback, dropped them to 2-6 on the season. The Baker Mayfield-led offense remained arguably the most disappointing unit in football, failing to score 20 points for the third time in four games.
Mayfield said the team isn't concerned about the outside noise and put the blame on players for failing to execute Kitchens' gameplan.
“It’s a topic for you guys," Mayfield said. “Within our building we know exactly what’s wrong. We haven’t executed. I think, like I said earlier, we had a good plan we just haven’t executed it. We’ll see how the guys handle it this week, but it’s got to be a singular focus. The preparation the last few games has been unbelievable, so we need to continue that.
"The type of men that we have, I said it weeks ago, whenever it was, months ago, that we’re going to stick together. We’re going to keep pushing forward, so this is obviously very frustrating but we got to move forward.”
The Browns hired Kitchens, who had no experience as a head coach at any level, after a brief run as the team's offensive coordinator last season. He took over the offense in the second half after the team fired coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, helping Mayfield set the rookie record for touchdown passes.
Cleveland entered the 2019 season with its most hype since returning to the NFL in 1999. Mayfield looked the part of a franchise quarterback, and the team acquired Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants to serve as the star receiver in an offense that already included Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb and David Njoku.
Mayfield has instead responded with one of the most disappointing sophomore seasons for a quarterback in recent memory while the offense (save Chubb) flounders around him. The Browns rank in the bottom half of the NFL in nearly every offensive category and have struggled mightily in the red zone, including scoring just one touchdown in five attempts against the Broncos.