To call the Cleveland Browns offseason a success would be severely under selling all the impactful transactions they made. Their offseason feels like a masterpiece and has me excited to watch them in action this upcoming season.
Now that is a statement I have never come close to uttering before. Let’s face it, the Browns look like the real deal this year. From finally securing their franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield to stealing Odell Beckham Jr from the New York Giants. They no longer feel like laughingstocks, especially after last season. All their moves have them poised to make a playoff run in 2019.
However, even with all of these impactful additions to the team they are not the main key for the Browns to become contenders in 2019. The main key to unlocking Cleveland’s hunt for the playoffs is head coach Freddie Kitchens. It won’t matter how Baker Mayfield or anyone on the offense performs if Kitchens cannot set them up for success by installing the optimal system.
We saw what he did when he took over play calling duties once Hue Jackson was fired as head coach. Baker Mayfield’s performance skyrocketed and came very close to having him win the rookie of the year. Now he has to do it as the head man in charge with a retooled offense. So many coaches love to just drill their system, their scheme into players heads without taking into account what they’re best at. Will Freddie Kitchens fall under this category now that he’s a head coach?
We are going to learn a lot about Kitchens’ legitimate first tenure as the head coach. It’s not the same as just taking over the reigns as a play caller midseason. All credit to him for getting the offense to actually tap into its potential last season, but it’s that small sample size that makes expectations insanely high. Pressure is sure to be felt on all sides for him, which will reveal how he handles it. With so much talent on the offensive side of the ball alone, Kitchens cannot fail.
There is little wiggle room for him in terms of having the offense clicking since that is his element, especially since he was so successful with less talent last year. You also have to take into account for critical decision making situations like going for it on fourth down or going for a two point conversion. A lot of coaches in the NFL do not excel in those type of moments and cost their team the game. It just fuels the pressure for a rookie head coach like Freddie Kitchens.
On the other side of the ball, the Cleveland Browns defense is sure to be sound in 2019, so that will help the offense attain more possessions in a game. Make no mistake, the offense is the driving force for the Cleveland Browns this season with Kitchens leading the charge. If he can’t cater his play-calling to his players strengths, then all that talent will be for naught. If he can work a system that brings the best out of his players, then the Cleveland Browns will be one of the top offenses in the league.
The 2019 season will be very intriguing when it comes to the Browns and Freddie Kitchens. Will he be able to ride the momentum from last season? Or will his larger role on the team see him shirk under pressure?