Freddie Kitchens rose from obscurity to head coach in a few months. He wants to take the Browns on a similar climb.
Cleveland officially named Kitchens its coach on Saturday, picking the affable 44-year-old following his strong, eight-game stint as their offensive coordinator.
The two sides agreed to a contract earlier in the week but needed to hash out details before Kitchens could become the 17th full-time head coach in franchise history.
Kitchens began the season coaching Cleveland’s running backs before he was named interim coordinator on Oct. 29 after coach Hue Jackson and Todd Haley were fired. Kitchens transformed Cleveland’s offense while developing quarterback Baker Mayfield, who threw 19 of his NFL rookie record 27 touchdown passes in the season’s second half.
Wearing an orange “Dawg Pound” sweat shirt on the sideline, Kitchens became a fan favorite and helped the Browns win five of their last eight games and finish 7-8-1 following a 0-16 season. He’s Cleveland’s ninth coach since 1999 and fourth hired since 2012 by owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam.
Kitchens, who served as an assistant in Arizona for 11 seasons before coming to Cleveland, will be introduced at a news conference Monday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“It’s an honor to be named the head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” Kitchens said in a release. “As I’ve said before, I think Cleveland and I get along pretty well. My family and I have really enjoyed our time with this organization and in this community over the last year.
“There are a lot of great people in this front office that I’m excited to continue to work alongside with a singular focus on winning. I’ve been to one Super Bowl that didn’t end the way I wanted it to and that disappointing memory is what really drives me. Our goal is to work extremely hard to earn the right to raise that Lombardi Trophy for our fans and this city.”
Kitchens was one of seven candidates interviewed by Browns general manager John Dorsey. He was selected over interim coach Gregg Williams, who is not returning as defensive coordinator.
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