Freddie Kitchens is a father, coach, and a real-life Iron Man. Coach Kitchens, the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator: could he be the one for the future? Like the Marvel movie Iron Man, Tony Stark needed the help of a mechanical device to protect his heart. After suffering from an ascending aorta coach Kitchens was given a mechanical valve to keep his heart protected. There are other similarities, too.
In the movies, Stark used his intellect to developed weapons to defeat an enemy, while coach Kitchens uses his mind and quarterback Baker Mayfield. So Let’s take a look at how Freddie Kitchens fits the main traits that GM John Dorsey is looking for in a head coach—high football acumen, can lead young men, and being a man of character.
High football acumen:
Freddie Kitchens football journey started in Etowah High School in Alabama. During his four years, coach Kitchens won Class 5A All-State Player of the Year, ASWA Mr. Football, an Alabama-Mississippi Game All-Star, and a High School All-American. Then in 2015 he was inducted into the Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame.
After high school, he went on to college and became the starting quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide. The highlight of his college career was in 1996 when Kitchens led Alabama to a 17-14 victory over Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
After Kitchens finished at Alabama he went right into coaching over the next 19 years:
1999 Glenville State University, offensive assistant
2000 Louisiana State University, graduate assistant
2001-03 North Texas University, running backs coach
2004 Mississippi State University, tight ends coach
2005 Mississippi State University, running backs coach
2006 Dallas Cowboys, tight ends coach
2007-12 Arizona Cardinals, tight ends coach
2013-16 Arizona Cardinals, quarterbacks coach
2017 Arizona Cardinals, running backs coach
2018- Cleveland Browns, running backs coach/associate head coach
(Data courtesy of the Cleveland Browns website.)
Winning in football is second nature to coach Kitchens. From high school to college, and even the NFL, he’s always found himself to be on the top tier of his profession. You can easily say the answer is yes, after 19 years, high football acumen is not in question.
Can lead young men:
Data was not easy to find on his first two years of college coaching. Let’s start with North Texas University. During this time as running backs coach, Kitchens worked with 5 main running backs and all but one averages over 4 yards per carry. Patrick Cobbs was the star of the five, rushing for 3,911 yards with a 4.9 average per attempt. Cobbs later went on to a successful NFL career.
After North Texas Kitchens went on to Mississippi State University to become the tight ends coach. During the 2004 season he worked with three different players. In 2005 He was named running backs coach once again in 2005. He worked with 7 different running backs and the main four averaged over 4 yards per attempt. Jerious Norwood was the feature back in 2005 and rushed for 1,136 yards with a 5.9 YPA average. Norwood was then drafted to the NFL in the third round.
The 2006 season Kitchens made is debut in the NFL as the Dallas Cowboys tight ends coach. The Cowboys selected Anthony Fasano tight end, Notre Dame in that season’s NFL Draft. Fasano finished the season with 24 targets 14 receptions a 58.3% catch rating.
Kitchens would find his long-term home in 2007 with the Arizona Cardinals, starting as the tight ends coach working with one of the NFL’s top offensive units. They made the playoffs two of the five years.
With new head coach Bruce Arians in 2013, Kitchens was asked to take over as the quarterbacks coach. Over the next three years, he worked with Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. While making the playoffs two of the three years, both Palmer and Stanton had above average years.
Kitchens found his new home with the Cleveland Browns in 2018 as the new running backs coach, hired by new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. This year, Kitchens would get to work with a veteran running back Carlos Hyde and rookie Nick Chubb. Over this first 8 weeks, the Browns rushing attack was in the top 5 of the NFL. After week 6 rookie Nick Chubb was made the feature back when Carlos Hyde was traded. As of now, Chubb has rushed for 663 yards 6 touchdowns and an average of 5.4 yards per attempt. A key stat to note is his catch percent at 69.2. Not only has Kitchens developed Chubb into a high-caliber NFL running back, he also turned him into a catching weapon.
Head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were released following the Week 8 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Freddie Kitchens was named interim offensive coordinator and took on the task of improving rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. In the first three games with coach Kitchens, Mayfield’s completion rate went from 58% to an outstanding 74%. His yards per game increased from 245.2 to 257.0. Over the first six games Mayfield had eight touchdowns with six interceptions. Over the last three, Baker improved that number to nine touchdowns and only one interception.
Can Freddie Kitchens lead young men? You only need to look at the development of Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb as potential Rookie of the Year candidates.
The answer is yes at every level of football.
A man of character:
The NFL ran a special on coach Kitchens in December of 2017. “Freddie Kitchens: The Most Selfless Man in the NFL | NFL Films Presents.” Kitchens is beloved by everyone he’s ever worked with or been around. In what little spare time he has had over the last 15 years, he returns home to run a free football camp. The goal is to influences, motivate, and encourage youth to be great. Not only is Freddie Kitchens a man of character, he’s also an outstanding father, husband, and a valuable member of the community.
When it comes to the most essential traits GM John Dorsey is looking for, Freddie Kitchens checks them off in spades. With that, (At the time I first wrote this I didn’t foresee Kitchens in play as head coach). But the chemistry and progression shown by the Browns offensive unit should not be overlooked. It’s believed that early development of a rookie quarterback is vital to the longevity of his career. In September of this year, I wrote an article called “Baker Mayfield the “it” factor” I defined the “it” as Loyalty, and that’s something Mayfield already has with Kitchens.
When choosing the next head coach, it will not be an easy task for GM John Dorsey. This team still very young and is already building a deep bond with coaching staff it believes in. According to Baker Mayfield: “We have the same players, we have people we believe in calling the plays now.” No matter the outcome, Dorsey says what’s best for Baker Mayfield is a top priority. With everything going so well, is splitting up Mayfield and Kitchens truly what’s best?
Special Thanks to @BrownsTherapy
Written By: @Chadp71
Edited By: @Robzie_