“We thank Freddie for his hard work and commitment to this organization but did not see the success or opportunities for improvement to move forward with him as our head coach,” a statement from team owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said late Sunday. “Our focus is on hiring an exceptional leader for this football team and we will take a comprehensive approach to this process. We are excited about the core players we have to build around and develop and we look forward to bringing in a strong head coach that will put this group of players in the best position to succeed.”
Freddie Kitchens went from running the Cleveland Browns’ offense to running the show in 2019. (AP)
Browns general manager John Dorsey also released a statement.
“I would like to thank Freddie for his dedication and efforts this past season,” Dorsey said. “We are disappointed in our results and feel a change is necessary. Freddie is a good man and good football coach. We wish he and his family nothing but success.”
Kitchens told reporters after the 33-23 loss that he expected to be coaching Monday, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” he said. “We’ve got meetings scheduled through next week and I’m looking forward to going to work tomorrow. You know? I truly don’t buy into the speculation stuff. I’ll work and show up tomorrow and do the best job I can do for the Browns tomorrow.”
He added: “They haven’t given me any indication of anything else and I don’t think Mr. Jimmy and Dee [Haslam], I think, they want me to do my job and that’s what I’m going to do, is do my job until they tell me not to — if they tell me not to. I seriously don’t want to get into speculation because I haven’t been told anything. They just want me to do my job and I’m going to do my job to the best of my ability tomorrow. Just like I’m going to try to do this press conference right here to the best of my ability.”
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
Kitchens became the head coach because of his work with Baker Mayfield during the quarterback’s rookie season. He was given the job over Gregg Williams who had led the team to a 5-3 record when he replaced Hue Jackson in the middle of last season.
Mayfield didn’t give Kitchens a vote of confidence last week when he was asked about the coach’s future.
“That’s not my decision to make, so whatever happens, happens moving forward,” he said last week during the postgame news conference following a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. “I know how I’m gonna handle it, getting whatever receiving corps, tight ends we have together in the offseason and making sure we’re on the same page so we hit the ground running in the spring.
“Any time you have a head coach and you have a losing record, that’s the first person everybody points to. It goes to many more things than just Freddie. We can all be better in this process… there’s no one single thing to blame. Overall, we have to bring it more and more every day to meet the expectations we have for ourselves.”
The Browns finished with fewer wins than last season and a worse winning percentage.