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Final thoughts on the 6-10 season

Final thoughts on the 6-10 season

It had to happen.

It’s never good to fire a first-year coach. It never seems fair.

But Freddie Kitchens was just not going to work leading the Browns.

It was a hire that made sense at the time, in fact, I lauded it. Kitchens had a good working relationship with quarterback Baker Mayfield. At the time, it seemed imperative to keep that connection together.

Browns general manager John Dorsey agreed. The team didn’t really have much of a coaching search — it seemed to have interest in only two men, Kitchens and Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski — and Kitchens got the gig.

So why did it all fall apart?

Maybe the Browns forgot that not every assistant coach should be a head coach.

Kitchens went 6-10 in his only season. That’s not a good record. But if anything, it was actually better than Kitchens’ performance.

Week after week, the Browns looked unprepared. Mayfield went from one of the most exciting players in the league to perhaps the AFC’s worst quarterback.

Yes, there were other issues. Player discipline and playcalling were problematic.

But Kitchens was promoted because he worked so well with Mayfield in his brief time as offensive coordinator in 2018.

Mayfield regressed this year under Kitchens’ watch.

The Browns — and Mayfield — can’t afford another season like this one from the former No. 1 pick.

Kitchens main selling point was how well he worked with Mayfield, but Mayfield got worse.

So what was the case to keep Kitchens?

He only had one year?

Thank goodness.

The bigger question is what happens now.

There are rumors about Bill Belichick protege Josh McDaniels, the former Broncos coach who is now a Patriots offensive coordinator.

There’s Mike McCarthy, the former Packers coach who won a Super Bowl in 2010. And then there are other assistants who haven’t been head coaches. Maybe Stefanski will be brought in.

After this past season, I can honestly say there isn’t a specific coach I want.

I thought Kitchens would be great. Instead, I think he was the worst coach the franchise has had.

But I think whomever gets the job will need to push the team, and push Mayfield.

I think the Browns catered to Mayfield too much in this offseason, from hiring Kitchens to signing Garrett Gilbert, a former high school teammate, as his backup.

The new coach needs to challenge Mayfield, and perhaps rein in the QB’s attitude.

And I think for that to happen, the new hire needs to have a track record as a head coach, and command respect from Day 1.

There are three candidates who fit that bill: McCarthy, former Panthers coach Ron Rivera, and former Lions and Colts coach Jim Caldwell.

All three have been to a Super Bowl.

Rivera looks ticketed to Washington.

The Browns don’t appear to be interested in Caldwell.

So, that leaves McCarthy, who Dorsey knows well from his time in Green Bay.

That doesn’t mean they like each other. But they do know each other.

Of course, it might not be Dorsey’s call. If McDaniels is hired, he’ll probably want control of the roster. That’s the Belichick way.

As it usually is with this franchise, there are questions, and then there are more questions once the answers come out.

The Browns did the right thing in firing Kitchens.

Now they need to get the right coach.

That is never easy, is it?

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