The Cleveland Browns did not get the second-year jump from their franchise quarterback, Baker Mayfield, that they were anticipating last season. This more than anything else explains why they went 6-10, taking a step back from the 7-8-1 record that they had the year before, their best in a decade.
That’s not the only reason that Freddie Kitchens got canned as head coach after only one season, however. In spite of his apparent incompetence in certain phases of the job, he remained blustery and defiant through it all, ironically often mirroring the stubbornness of Hue Jackson, his predecessor, who once made Kitchens himself the subject of his arrogance on a Hard Knocks episode.
Replacing Kitchens will but Kevin Stefanski, which creates an interesting scenario in the Browns’ front office. After also parting with general manager John Dorsey this offseason, that essentially leaves CSO Paul DePodesta as the one in charge of things over there. Stefanski was the candidate he wanted Cleveland to hire last year.
Now he’s got his guy. Likely, he will live or die with his hand-picked coach’s success. Well, perhaps ‘likely’ is too strong a word, but given the short shelf life of just about everyone else around him, it seems as though the Browns are now willing to try things his way. So if that still doesn’t work, I can easily see him getting dumped.
Addressing reporters a couple of days ago, over a number of issues, he first talked about the reports of Stefanski being required to submit his gameplans to the analytics department, and things of that nature. He denied that report, but also tried to demystify the nature of analytics, essentially saying that it’s just football.
On his own future, he said, “I expect to be here”, addressing his contract status. Many figures around him have come and gone since he was brought on board a few years ago. He was hired to be the visionary, and now they’re trying to stick to his vision as best as possible—perhaps to test out the strength of his vision, and whether or not it’s worth sticking to.
One thing has been consistent about the Browns, and that is that they always believe that they are making the right moves, when those moves are being made. So far, almost all of them have turned out to be wrong. They’re hoping DePodesta is the one they got right, and are now entrusting him to make the right decisions.