If Browns Fire Kitchens, Expect a Prearranged Replacement

Pete Smith

In the event the Cleveland Browns opt to fire Freddie Kitchens, there won't be a drawn out, thorough coaching search for his replacement the way they did last time. The most likely scenario they would fire Kitchens is if they have his replacement prearranged and ready to be named immediately, even if they delay the hiring announcement. Not only can John Dorsey ill afford a coaching search that would leave any potential for him to be without a candidate to his liking, it's also critical that he's able to negotiate his own standing within the organization. He's not going to put himself in a position to be surprised by ownership when presented with a candidate they love and then agree to take away some of his organizational control to ensure they get their preferred choice.

If he hasn't already, Dorsey would figure out who he wants through back channels, send out feelers that can't be connected directly to him and proceed from there. After all, this is how Dorsey got the general manager job with the Browns in the first place. And at the time, before Dorsey was hired by the Browns, he was working on a coaching staff to step in and take over the following season, but ownership decided to retain Hue Jackson. One area the Browns have improved significantly since Dorsey has arrived is eliminating leaks within the organization, so it shouldn't come as a surprise people haven't been able to report anything on this front.

This would eliminate any notion of hiring Lincoln Riley, who is preparing his team for a playoff game as the head coach of Oklahoma, not that he was a realistic option anyway. It also stands to reason that if he were to fire Kitchens, Dorsey has zero interest in hiring another first time head coach. He'd be hiring an experienced head coach, likely one that has already coached in the NFL and one that's comfortable with letting him operate as the team's GM, unlikely to challenge his authority.

It would also allow that coach to begin assembling their staff ahead of time, getting a jump on the potential coaching market to bring in the best assistants possible.

It's still unlikely to be New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was never contacted by the Browns the last time they did a coaching search, due to backing out of the Indianapolis Colts job after agreeing to it. The general manager he agreed to work for, Chris Ballard, is one of Dorsey's closest friends in the NFL. Even if the Haslams were to take a bigger role in the coaching search this time, McDaniels with Dorsey would be a forced marriage that isn't likely to end well.

Far more likely, the list of candidates would include former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, current Minnesota Vikings assistant head coach, Gary Kubiak, current Atlanta Falcons assistant head coach Raheem Morris, current Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz or perhaps former Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. Current Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks might be a more viable option than anyone is willing to acknowledge as he's done an excellent job on that side of the ball, was a head coach with the Arizona Cardinals for a year and they've obviously gotten to know him for a year. Given the fact that the Browns would be firing Kitchens after a year the way the Cardinals fired him, Wilks might be inclined to pass, biding his time to take the job that he feels has a better chance to succeed. This is not a definitive list by any stretch; just some possibilities that fit the criteria the Browns are likely to target.

While there are plenty of people that assume Freddie Kitchens is a dead man walking as the current head coach of the Browns, the reality is likely far murkier than that. The organization has to weigh the potential for Kitchens to further grow into the job with another year against the setback they'd suffer from going with someone else, likely losing the very capable staff that Kitchens assembled along with him. Dorsey probably doesn't love the idea of changing around the roster again to fit a new coaching staff as he's already had to do this once, getting rid of a player he drafted like Genard Avery to accommodate it.

This is merely pointing out that any fanciful notion that the Browns would fire Kitchens and then bring in various candidates, trying to lure another big time name fans would love simply isn't realistic. The Browns would almost certainly go with a retread head coach and be one of the first teams to announce their choice, trying to get their ducks in a row as soon as possible to prepare for a critical offseason.

If the Browns are serious about replacing Kitchens, the next three weeks could be crunch time in making that move, but the longer nothing happens, the better the chances for Kitchens to be retained for another year.

Comments (16)
No. 1-14
Redright88
Redright88

If you snooze u lose Urban Meyer. All it would take is offering him the job. Think back to his time at Florida many players were shady. He's cut from the same cloth as Dorsey get the player I will handle him, he's a winner. Jim Harbaugh turned the 49ners around in one year and fixed alex smith took a powder tuff team and made that tough as nails and Lastly Brian schottenheimer. He has done a great job in Seattle learned a lot from Pete Carroll comes from a football family he's going to run the ball with power play smart tough defense and play low risk highly fundamental football. I think he's the dark horse candidate

Dillon88
Dillon88

There is no way they keep Kitchens, this year has been a train wreck and that all starts from the leadership & coaching

Roofman1ac
Roofman1ac

We need to roll with Kitchens and Dorsey needs to coach him up on where to grow. When you hire a first year coach with little experience it would be ideal to let him grow on the job. The Browns has too high of expectations this season. Neither the offense or the defense could have been good enough all year to make this team the contender people were believing. If Kitchens can get this team to 9-7 and boast a 5-1 AFC North record or even 8-8 with a loss only to the Ravens and a 4-2 AFC North record that’s still growth and a step forward over last year. Give Kitchens some more talent at the OT position and give Wilkes better LB’s and safeties and this team can take the next step up. Kitchens should probably give up the offensive play-calling duties to Monken and focus more on being the head coach that focuses on all 3 phases of the team. Blowing the coaching staff up with so many young players coming up would be debilitating. This young team needs to grow into a winner over time. You don’t overnight turn a young losing squad into a contender. It takes time and growth.

Footballfan55
Footballfan55

Ron Rivera would be an interesting move but I get the feeling he's going to take a break from coaching for a while.

chasgustaf
chasgustaf

Let's start with ending the two years you are with the Browns and then you are traded. Or at the end of Rookie contract you are traded. It's either the Haslem's or Dorsey who don't want to pay the higher salary, or they think that the youngest, most inexperienced team on the field, is going to win the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl. The Defense was changed this year and the offense looks like it has about twelve plays it wants to run all the time.

Jdaniels_1986
Jdaniels_1986

As a die-hard browns fan i must truly admit how disappointed I am as far as how this teamed has meshed. I believe tht not only discipline must be addressed but a winning culture. I had high hopes for Freddie and the browns this year because what we need is an offensive Mastermind, not just somebody tht is ahead of there time and draws up very exotic plays. We need someone who has coached at the highest peak, I believe tht Josh McDaniels would be perfect for this job. He comes from the Belecheick coaching tree, so he has tht edge the disciplinary attitude and is a very good offensive Mastermind tht would def have this browns team top 3 in all offensive categories. If not Josh McDaniels, I would say Lincoln Riley. It's not just a pipe dream, Riley has to want to coach at the highest level . What coach doesn't wanna play in and win a Superbowl? Aside from the offensive line issues which I'm sure will be addressed a couple defensive moves which will also be addressed this team is built to win a Superbowl. Josh McDaniels \ Lincoln Riley =Browns Superbowl...

Jakuta
Jakuta

I think you have to go after Ron Rivera if you are gonna fire Kitchens. He's gotta be the number 1 choice here. Dorsey knows that Rivera is getting scooped up super quick. I expect them to fire Kitchens if they lose to Arizona this week.

Dave28
Dave28

If you think Wilks is a viable option you must not have been watching the Browns this season. The defense has made Brandon Allen and the Duck look like Joe Montana. They are constantly making huge errors/penalties to keep the opposing offenses alive. 25th in run defense (a big reason the pass defense stats look better than they are, teams can just run all over them). Through the first 8 weeks, they gave up nearly 26 points per game which would be good for 25th. If it wasn't for the easy schedule after that, I'm sure that trend would continue.

Raiderone
Raiderone

How would they comply with the Rooney Rule then? What's the penalty for not following it?

Edmund Dontes
Edmund Dontes

I couldn’t agree more with the author here. Although keeping from making big changes is what the Browns really need, but not if the dynamic three in the front office think it’s a lost cause.

Wilkes has literally won games in spite of Freddie and his being way over his head. Many games the anemic offense has failed to offer any response to the opponents time on the field, for instance, the first Steelers game, and Wilkes has kept us in it. It would be a shame to lose Wilkes after what he’s done with SO many injuries. Anyone who thinks Wilkes has done a bad or poor job has obviously never coached anything at a reasonably high level in his life. So many injuries, in fact he’s rarely if ever had his full defense. Now, I didn’t say I agree with everything, or every move Wilkes has made, that’s never going to happen. But he’s done a solid job.

If we switch, we need a disciplinarian for this team. It’s young and we’re trying to change the culture. The culture keeps fighting and fighting, so we need someone who’s not playing around.

Go Browns!

Go Buckeyes!

Hittsall
Hittsall

If the writer believes Wilks has done a good job with the Browns defense, he’s more out of touch with the pulse of the Browns than Freddie!

jimmorrison59
jimmorrison59

Well, there is a way to look at this that I think you haven't mentioned. As odious as replacing the entire coaching staff (or at least most of it), would be those of us watching closely seem to be of the opinion that Kitchens has Waaaayyyy too far to go to become an effective HC in the NFL. If he can ever be effective at all that is. It may just be best to cut bait and move on before contracts of high end players begin to expire or require extension. No sense losing talent over a crappy HC being kept too long.

OldBob2
OldBob2

Fire Freddie? Not gonna happen. The Haslam's love them some Freddie Kitchens. He's a good ol' boy. Slick Jimmy - he (thinks) he's a good ol' boy! Freddie, he calls 'em Mr. Jimmy an' Miz Dee. Yessirree, Bob! They loves them some Freddie Kitchens! And remember - they held onto Hue Jackson, arguably The Worst Coach In NFL History, for 2-1/2 seasons! Nawwww! Ol' Freddie, he's gonna be a-coachin' in Cleveburg for the foreseeable future.

More likely is that John Dorsey is gonna get tossed under the Good Ol' Boy Bus and will be back to being unemployed at the end of the year. Because, after all, somebody has to take the blame, and if it ain't Freddie, and it sure as sh*t ain't gonna be Slick and Mrs. Slick...well, there's not a lot of other candidates, so...

frueg
frueg

Wilks? His defense doesn't even rank in the top 20. I'm hoping he gets replaced if no body else.


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