At the risk of being sensationalist, I do find it interesting that multiple Cleveland Browns players have been given the opportunity in recent days to issue a vote of confidence for their head coach Freddie Kitchens, and instead deferred in answering the question at all. What are they not saying?
During an extended question and answer session with running back Kareem Hunt, in which he was lamenting the fact that not everybody on the roster was giving 100 percent on every play in the team’s loss against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, he was at one point in the proceedings asked about the head coach.
Specifically, he was asked if he noticed anybody questioning Kitchens’ leadership ability. “I’m not answering that”, he said. “I just worry about myself, so I don’t know”. One might be inclined to argue that it would be an easy enough question to answer if that answer were ‘no’.
Earlier in the week, safety Damarious Randall also deferred on a similar question pertaining to Kitchens’ abilities. There was a report that multiple Browns players, including Jarvis Landry, were telling Cardinals players on Sunday to ‘come get me’, clearly showing some type of dissatisfaction.
Kitchens entered the 2018 season as the Browns’ running backs coach, but he was promoted to interim offensive coordinator after eight games following the firing of Todd Haley from that same post. He was largely credited with helping the team turn things around and finish on a 5-2 run in the finals even games.
That was the resume upon the strength of which the Haslams elected to name him their next head coach, though he has had no prior experience, and he has not infrequently looked to be in over his head in this post during his first year on the job.
Despite the vast disappointments of the season, which started with clear playoff aspirations, reports are that the Browns will continue to stick with Kitchens beyond 2019. One can’t help but wonder if player responses to that decision could influence a changing of the collective minds within the organization, however.
The front office made splashy moves this offseason to try to improve the team and turn them into contenders. It hasn’t happened this year. That doesn’t mean that it can’t. But it is possible that it requires a change in leadership. Especially if maintaining the status quo causes them to lose some star players.