CLEVELAND

When Freddie Kitchens Speaks T-Shirts and Teaching Happens

I will admit that Freddie Kitchens is good for a zinger every once in a while, but I am more impressed with some other things he says.

Photo Courtesy of Cleveland.com

Sometimes Freddie Kitchens seems too good to be true. An underdog blue-collar coach, in a blue-collar town coaching an underdog team. That’s why when Kitchens speaks every t-shirt company in town is waiting for their next design. That’s why when Kitchens wears a sweatshirt on the sidelines, the company that makes the sweatshirt get a run on that sweatshirt. In Cleveland, he is not only the head football coach he is also the head fashion icon.

Browns fans have starved for an exciting brand of football for a long time. So when Coach Kitchens provided exactly that, his fan support shot through the roof in Cleveland. While waiting for the next soundbite is fun, there has been a lot of substance to some of the things that he has had to say.

It’s hard not to listen to Kitchens. While he has downplayed his own success, it was undeniable. To see the impact of what Kitchens did for the offense you don’t need to look further than the play of the offensive line. Considering the unit was playing poorly until Kitchens took over, it shows the impact his coaching had on putting those players in a position to succeed.

Of all the things that Kitchens has said, some of the most encouraging statements have come as Training Camp approaches. The Browns have pulled back a bit of the curtain this season with their show, Building the Browns. One theme Kitchens repeats is teaching. The words learning, growing, fundamentals and educators are thrown around a lot as it pertains to the relationships between coach and player in Berea. While that doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface, this is the NFL.

One of my criticisms of recent NFL coaches is they don’t value educating players. Pro coaches don’t feel they need to teach fundamentals. The iron sharpens iron mindset prevails many times. If the player is worth his spot, he will figure it out. All the while forgetting that some quarterbacks that come into the league have never taken a snap from under center. Forgetting that offenses come in a hundred different varieties in college. Forgetting young pros need molding into a different style of game that they are used to, on both sides of the ball.

Developing players is a skill that puts a Coach in a position to succeed. So giving Coach Kitchens such a young promising core should be an encouraging sign for Browns fans. If Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb can make big leaps in their second year, the Browns’ offense might send shockwaves through the league. The fact you will have Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry in an offense that will likely put players in a position to succeed is almost not fair. And the weapons that the Browns have that haven’t been mentioned above is almost criminal.

While it is only on paper at the moment, the Browns could be considerably better. If that happens I imagine Coach Kitchens popularity in Cleveland will be considerable enough to make the mayor nervous. Even though we still have a little while to wait, “Believeland,” has finally transcended being a corny slogan. There is finally a genuine belief that the Browns could emerge at a top tier team in the NFL this season.

While I concede, “Whoopty-Hell,” is a great theater. It does look cool on a shirt. But don’t forget that soundbite was in reference to Kitchens airing his dissatisfaction with last season’s record. Kitchens may have turned the majority of the color spectrum irrelevant when he let us know only orange and brown mattered. But that too is just a rally cry, letting folks know we won’t be a doormat anymore.

With our offense seemingly in good hands, now we wait to see if our defensive staff shares Kitchens traits. The defense should be a deep group a well. But some young stars are waiting to break out on that side of the ball as well. While shootouts might be fun, I’m sure Browns fans would prefer some statement victories this season.

In the meantime I will save my money. I’m sure when Training Camp breaks there will be a few new t-shirts. Hopefully something I can wear until I get my new Super Bowl Shirt.


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