Cleveland Browns: Freddie Kitchens getting players to practice the way he wants
In the first few days of Cleveland Browns training camp, one of the biggest themes has been Freddie Kitchens getting the team to practice the way he wants. Some of that has come in the form of getting players to be responsible for their actions in terms of protecting their teammates from avoidable injuries. A big focus has been establishing consequences for mistakes, particularly penalties.
Personally, I don't think making guys run for jumping offsides or committing a false start has any meaningful impact. Punishing a guy for holding seems reasonable enough as the goal is to get them to move their feet better and employ their technique so they don't do it, but if it's the difference between Baker Mayfield getting decked on Sundays or not, holding is often the lesser of two evils. When it comes to personal fouls, I think Kitchens has a point.
Not surprisingly, Kitchens has done away with the exercise bikes that were commonplace under previous administrations. He's old school in the sense that he wants guys who are out to be doing something difficult enough that encourages those with small issues to prefer to be practicing. This was an issue Kitchens brought up on Hard Knocks last year, so the bikes going away and injured guys being on the field in uniform in an attempt to establish a better mindset are not remotely surprising.
He also has a different approach when it comes to giving veterans days off. Rather than a full day off, he has guys, Morgan Burnett as an example, participate in some drills like individual work but keeps them out from team to avoid putting hits on their body while ensuring they are doing something productive.
Another area where Kitchens has a different approach is tackling. Kitchens stresses he will have guys wearing pads pretty much everyday, but he's not interested in taking guys all the way to the ground. Under Hue Jackson, the team sounded a siren for a designated period of full contact, guys going to the ground, that would last for a few minutes at a time.
Kitchens is stressing the technique and believes that can address many of the teams issues from last year. He wants to have physical practices without taking guys to the ground, where they can get rolled up on.
Kitchens is pretty open in saying that his way isn't the only way, but he thinks it's the best way for what he wants to do with his team. Whether people agree, disagree or indifferent, the one thing that's very clear is that none of this is off the cuff or random. Kitchens has a plan. And that fact alone makes some of the areas where one might want to disagree with him a little easier to take.
For players, that's an important part as well. Predictability is a good thing. It's not about fair. As in life, few things in football are fair, but predictability and an understanding what is expected is important and helps make things run more smoothly. The players largely seem to understand what Kitchens demands while media and the general public are learning in the early going of training camp.