After horrendous season, Browns fire coach Freddie Kitchens

The Cleveland Browns came into this season in an unfamiliar position. A lot of people expected them to be good.

There was one big question, and that was whether first-year coach Freddie Kitchens was the right hire. Kitchens had a meteoric rise, from fairly anonymous position coach in the middle of the 2018 season to head coach of the Browns after a good half-season calling the offense as interim offensive coordinator.

It was a boom-or-bust hire, and it busted. The Browns were terrible and Kitchens was fired after Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Kitchens’ play-calling was criticized all season. There was in-fighting and some blow-ups on the sidelines. Kitchens seemed in over his head all season.

[Watch live NFL games on the Yahoo Sports app, here's how]

He won’t get a second season. The Browns, despite leaking to some media members with a few games left that they wanted Kitchens to get a second season, are looking for a new coach. Again.

Freddie Kitchens was a risky hire

The Browns’ job was appealing a year ago. Despite many years of losing, the team had a strong finish to the 2018 season, a fun young quarterback in Baker Mayfield and the draft picks and cap space to build even more. They used some of that capital to trade for New York Giants star receiver Odell Beckham.

When the Browns hired Kitchens it seemed like a worthwhile gamble, though it was clearly a gamble. The Browns played well in the second half of last season, Mayfield and Kitchens seemed like a great fit and Cleveland must have wondered if it unearthed a coaching star after Kitchens had toiled in obscurity for years.

But the head coach job is a lot different than being an interim offensive coordinator or running backs coach, and Kitchens couldn’t handle it. The Browns, with one of the more talented rosters in the NFL, finished 6-10 and ended the season with a loss to a Bengals team that was 1-14 coming in.

Browns had an awful season

The Browns’ opener, in which they lost 43-13 to a Tennessee Titans team quarterbacked by Marcus Mariota, was a sign of impending doom. The Browns would not be above .500 at any point this season. There was too much talent on the roster for the Browns to be so bad. Mayfield struggled. Beckham was never a factor. Kitchens made plenty of missteps, including wearing a “Pittsburgh started it” T-shirt, referencing an altercation between Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, who was suspended for the rest of the season. It showed a lack of awareness for his job.

17 PHOTOS
Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens
See Gallery
Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens
BEREA, OH - JULY 27, 2018: Running backs coach Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns watches a drill during a training camp practice on July 27, 2018 at the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 9, 2018: Running backs coach Freddie Kitchens on the field prior to a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 9, 2018 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The game ended in a tie 21-21. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 23: Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens looks on during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 28, 2018: Running back coach Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns watches the action from the sideline in the fourth quarter of a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 28, 2018 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won 33-18. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 04: Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens on the field during warm-ups prior to the National Football League game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns on November 4, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 4, 2018: Offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns yells toward players in the third quarter of a game against the Kansas City Chiefs on November 4, 2018 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Kansas City won 37-21. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 11, 2018: Offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns talks with quarterback Baker Mayfield #6 in the third quarter of a game against the Atlanta Falcons on November 11, 2018 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 28-16. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 25, 2018: Offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens on the field prior to a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on November 25, 2018 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cleveland won 35-20. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 25, 2018: Offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns talks with quarterback Baker Mayfield #6 prior to a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on November 25, 2018 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cleveland won 35-20. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 25, 2018: Offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns on the sideline in the first quarter of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on November 25, 2018 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cleveland won 35-20. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 9, 2018: Offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns talks with quarterback Baker Mayfield prior to a game against the Carolina Panthers on December 9, 2018 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 26-20. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 23: Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens on the field prior to the National Football League game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns on December 23, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 23: Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens looks on during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 23: Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens on the field prior to the National Football League game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns on December 23, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 23: Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens on the field prior to the National Football League game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns on December 23, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 23, 2018: Offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns on the sideline prior to a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 23, 2018 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 26-18. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 30, 2018: Quarterback Baker Mayfield #6 and offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns in the second quarter of a game against the Baltimore Ravens on December 30, 2018 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore won 26-24. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

And still, the Browns seemed like they would give Kitchens a second season. The Browns had four coaches in a row get either one or two seasons before being oddly patient with Hue Jackson, who was fired in the middle of last season, his third with the team. Cleveland clearly didn’t want to go one-and-done with another coach.

But Kitchens had such a bad year, it didn’t make much sense to try again. The Browns job isn’t as attractive this time around. Mayfield is a question mark now. Beckham’s future will be a constant topic of conversation. There’s still some young talent but also big questions, like a bad offensive line.

The Browns will still have interest from top candidates. And they’re likely to make a safer hire this time around.

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Read Full Story