Freddie Kitchens with a Major Tactical Error and Lack of Faith in Key Spots in Loss to Seahawks
The Cleveland Browns loss against the Seattle Seahawks was frustrating. Four turnovers and having a punt blocked is always a recipe for disaster. The game also proved to be revealing in a few key situations. Freddie Kitchens got ahead of himself at the end of the first half when the Browns were up 20-12 and a key series down by the goal line showed a lack of faith in the offensive line or at least one of them.
At the end of the half, Kitchens theory of the case was that he didn't want to waste clock, because he was hoping to score as fast as possible. Then the Browns defense would get a stop on the Seahawks and using his three timeouts, he'd get the ball back and have a chance to score again. At the time, there was a little more than 90 seconds left in the half. Had it worked, he would be hailed a hero, but the thought process was still flawed.
And it's not because Freddie Kitchens called a passing play that didn't work, ultimately resulting in a poor decision by Baker Mayfield; an inaccurate pass from an unbalanced platform that was behind Jarvis Landry, tipped up and was intercepted. Kitchens faith in Mayfield is a good thing. He should always feel comfortable having the ball in Mayfield's hands, because he is the franchise quarterback.
The problem is that Kitchens voluntarily gave up a significant portion of his playbook; namely the running game and handing the ball to what is currently the team's best player on offense in Nick Chubb. The notion of wanting to score fast to potentially put the Seahawks down at least 26-12 and try to get the ball back and score again is the aggressiveness that most people loved about Kitchens when he got the job. But to do that, you call the best plays from the entire playbook and if it works out that they can then put the pressure on the Seahawks to try to get the ball back, great. If not, they still have a two score lead going into the half.
Especially with the way Chubb is playing, handing him the ball may have been the fastest way to the end zone anyway. Particularly early in the game, a balanced Browns attack had the Seahawks off balance and getting chunks of yards. Call the best plays, go up tempo, but get in the end zone, then evaluate your options. It's a major tactical error and a teachable moment.
Later in the game at the goal line, the play calling proved revealing on the state of the offense. A series of plays that included a goal line fade to Odell Beckham that never had a chance, a quick pass to Jarvis Landry which led to a review and then pulling linemen on fourth down, it all points to one thing. Freddie Kitchens didn't trust that his offensive line could just move the Seahawks off the ball to get into the end zone.
Considering the fact that four of the offensive linemen were the same as they were last year and Kitchens would've given them multiple opportunities to just drive the opponent off the ball to jam it into the end zone, it would appear compelling evidence that the change from Kevin Zeitler to Eric Kush has changed his feelings about the guys up front. Kush was often the guy pulling as well, which would spotlight the fact Kitchens didn't believe Kush could do it. And Hubbard isn't driving anyone off the ball either, so the right side just isn't up to the task.
Maybe Kitchens should've just run something to the left behind Greg Robinson, Joel Bitonio and J.C. Tretter and jammed it in that way, but the bottom line is Kush isn't the answer, which isn't really news but serves as confirmation that they are forced to call plays around Kush. It has always seemed a matter of time until they plug Wyatt Teller in there for Kush and this is one more compelling reason that it should get there sooner than later.