Kitchens is a former Alabama (1993-98) quarterback who went 22-13 in three seasons as the Crimson Tide’s starter. He began his coaching career immediately after graduation at Division II Glenville State. He was also a graduate assistant at LSU.
Kitchens coached the running backs at North Texas for three seasons and spent two seasons as an assistant at Mississippi State. It was at Mississippi State where he first crossed paths with Giants head coach Joe Judge, who played for and began his coaching career under Sylvester Croom.
Kitchens’ first NFL job was Dallas Cowboys tight ends coach under Bill Parcells. Jason Witten was named to the Pro Bowl in Kitchens’ sole season in Dallas. After the Cowboys, he spent 11 years with the Arizona Cardinals coaching the tight ends (2007-12), quarterbacks (2013-16), and running backs (2017) for Ken Whisenhunt and Bruce Arians.
Kitchens joined the Browns in 2018 a running backs coach. He was promoted to offensive coordinator after Hue Jackson was fired in the middle of the season. With Kitchens calling plays, quarterback Baker Mayfield set the rookie record for touchdowns with 27 and was a finalist for Offensive Rookie of the Year, an award that went to running back Saquon Barkley. The Browns finished with a record of 7-8-1.
Kitchens was named Browns head coach for the 2019 season. Expectations were high after the 2018 campaign and the trade for former Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
However, the offense never found its groove. Mayfield threw 21 interceptions. The offensive line failed to provide adequate protection. Both Beckham and fellow star receiver Jarvis Landry dealt with hop injuries. Edge rusher Myles Garrett was indefinitely suspended after striking Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph on the head with his helmet. Even Kitchens wasn’t immune as he received criticism for wearing a T-shirt with the words “Pittsburgh started it” in the days leading up to the Browns/Steelers rematch.
The Browns went 6-10. Kitchens was fired at season’s end. He admitted he didn’t do a good enough job.
“Six and 10 is not even remotely good enough,” Kitchens said. “We’re not running an operation here to try and be 6-10.”
Judge has never been a head coach on any level. Kitchens will be the fourth member of his coaching staff with collegiate or NFL head coaching experience.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was Dallas Cowboys head coach for nine seasons. Outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema was head coach at both Wisconsin and Arkansas while offensive assistant Derek Dooley was head coach at both Louisiana Tech and Tennessee.