After 13-years in the National Football League, Kitchens gets his first chance at being a head coach. So is he ready to lead a professional football team?
“Am I ready or not? I do not know,” Kitchens said. “I mean, were you ready to be a parent? They had confidence enough in me that I would figure it out and I would get the job done. So I promise you this, I will not let them down.
Kitchens was the last interview conducted by general manager John Dorsey. The offensive coordinator for the last eight games was not on the radar when Hue Jackson was fired. What a difference some wins can make.
“No, he wasn’t. But that does not mean that he is not a qualified coach,” Dorsey said. “You just look at the eight games he did, kind of caught your attention, too, didn’t it?”
So what stood out in Dorsey’s mind during Kitchen’s interview?
“His vision of the future for the organization” Dorsey said”. The ability to be collaborative in your thinking. How he galvanized a group of young men and taught the ‘we’ mindsets of a young group. You can just feel his passion and his depth of knowledge for this game. And again, his ability to call the game of football. I think that is really important. But it is the unification of bringing us all together.”
Cleveland finished 7-8-1 in 2018 after going 1-31 the previous two seasons. Kitchens held the Browns finish the season 5-3 in the final eight games. It’s something to be proud of right?
“7-8-1, it drives me crazy that people are happy with 7-8-1. It drives me literally crazy,” Kitchens said. “If I was in a different setting, my vocabulary would demonstrate that. That is not acceptable. Nobody here wants that. We all understand that it was an improvement, but under no circumstances is that ever going to be acceptable.”
People seem to accept Kitchen’s hiring. He has become popular around Browns town and not just for wearing an orange dawg pound hoodie around town. However there is one person who feels Kitchen’s hiring is an unpopular choice, the new head coach himself.
“I know that I am not a popular choice. I understand that and I don’t care and in reality I meant what I said. All I have heard and in reading the internet is ‘running back coach to head coach in the course of a year. Well, that is not the case. I have been a quarterback coach more than I have been a running back coach. I’ve been a tight end coach more than I have been a quarterback coach – or actually, it is about equal. You have to let me know on that one. But everything I have done is to continue to try and get better. I was fortunate enough to be good enough to start this. But again, I will reiterate, I’m not a finished product and I am never going to be.”
So what should we expect from Kitchens in year number one of his NFL head coaching career. Will he still call the offensive plays?
“I will,” Kitchens said. “Yeah, I will. “
What will be the biggest challenge as a rookie head coach in 2019?
“I do not know. I think you have to compartmentalize,” Kitchens said. Everything I am about as a coach is building relationships. I look at it as an advantage. As coaches, we are teachers. I am sure that you had a teacher at some point in your life that made you a better person. I am invested in people, not just players.”
Kitchen’s certainly knows what the ultimate goal is as the 17th full time head coach of the Cleveland Browns, make history.
“We only have one goal here and that is to hoist the Lombardi Trophy,” Kitchens said. “Everything will always center around winning the Super Bowl. I went to the Super Bowl and lost the Super Bowl. I never want to be in that position again. But every decision I have made since 2008 has been getting in position to do that. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded at this day in age, this time right now, to moving forward in that direction. That is all.”