Recently, the Cleveland Browns have been completing the necessary coach hirings to fill the positions vacated after an appalling 2017 season which saw them end up with the infamous 0-16 record.
This round of hires has filled the vacant offensive coordinator, running backs and special teams coach/coordinator roles. The coaches coming into those roles are Todd Haley, Amos Jones and Freddie Kitchens, who have all held their respective positions before at previous teams.
So, let’s have a quick look at who we’ve got to look forward to watching/blaming for all the bad football this time.
A quick search on Todd Haley throws up that he started his coaching career as a wide receivers coach with the New York Jets, Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys before moving on to become the offensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals. After this, he would get the top coaching job at Kansas City with the Chiefs when he became their head coach in 2009.
Whilst with the Chiefs, Haley improved a team that was getting gradually worse under former head coach Herman Edwards into one that would reach the playoffs in 2010. Unfortunately, he was fired the following season after the team started out with a 5-8 record and lost 37-10 to the New York Jets. He was replaced by another coach with Cleveland Browns ties, Romeo Crennel, who also didn’t last very long in the job.
After the firing from the Chiefs’ top job, Haley was snapped up by the Pittsburgh Steelers to be their offensive coordinator in an attempt by the team to improve their running game and protect their franchise QB better. This he did but in the process, he seems to have annoyed many people of which one has been reported as being the franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger. It’s thought that Big Ben wanted Haley gone after several spats between the two over the years and it would appear that the franchise has granted their (surely) soon to be retired QB his wish.
Haley wasn’t fired by the Steelers but his contract just wasn’t renewed after their 45-42 AFC divisional round loss to the resurgent Jacksonville Jaguars this year. It’s reported that Haley was the scapegoat for the loss even though his offence managed to rack up a massive 42 points on the 2nd best defence in the league — how’s that work? If only their defensive coordinator could have stopped the Jaguars offence, huh? And a Blake Bortles-led offence at that….oh hang on, Bortles is every Jags fans favourite QB again now, right? Even after all the bitching earlier in the season about him and calls for him to be benched. Oh, how I love the NFL and its fans (we’re all guilty of it).
It would appear that Steelers fans generally regard Todd Haley as a good offensive coordinator who is prone to out-thinking himself at times with questionable play calls on short yardage situations where he calls plays designed to gain longer yardage instead of the required short-yardage attempts. Maybe he and Hue can work on this together for the good of them both.
The Steelers fans have also started calling Todd Haley, “Tequila Cowboy” after several reports of him and his wife being involved in incidents and altercations whilst out enjoying the Pittsburgh scene. The latest of these incidents saw the couple removed from an establishment where it’s reported Haley fell and injured his hip.
So, do I like this hire? Yes, I do. As soon as it was announced that the Steelers weren’t keeping him I thought, ‘please bring him to the Browns instead of Ben McAdoo or Mike Mularkey’. I would have liked to have seen Houston Texans QB coach Sean Ryan given the job but Hue Jackson has said he only wanted to give the role to an experienced coordinator.
He sounds like he has a very Bill Parcells way about him, which is obviously too aggressive for many, and with all the money and huge egos in the game these days, I’d say that’s a marmite thing from a players perspective. Maybe that’s why Freddie Kitchens has been brought in as well as he comes across as a nice guy that players are drawn to and respect. A good cop bad cop scenario? I’m probably way over-thinking it but, hey, I’m allowed to.
Kitchens is the first of a couple of coaches the Browns have brought over from the Arizona Cardinals staff in this wave of recruiting. He comes to the Browns to be their running backs coach as well as an associate head coach (whatever that entails) after spending ten years in Arizona with the Cardinals as a positional coach. After being the tight ends and then quarterbacks coach, Kitchens was the running backs coach there and comes to the Browns to do the same.
I like this hire as he appears to be a well-liked and well-respected guy who should be good for the team.
During his time as a positional coach at previous teams, Kitchens could boast some credit for the likes of Jason Witten and Carson Palmer as he’s coached both at times when Witten went to the Pro Bowl and Palmer was setting team records for the Cardinals. Considering the awful Cardinals running game of the 2017 season without David Johnson though probably isn’t something he’d want to be remembered for or credited with (there’s always the offensive line he can blame).
There’s a nice video on YouTube that shows the kind of guy Freddie Kitchens is and his selfless ways.
This is the other hire from the Arizona Cardinals and the one that I’m most confused about.
I say that because there seems to be a lot of dislike of Jones from Cardinals fans and a quick Google search brings back lots of articles about how he should be fired from their team’s coaching staff. On the other hand, though, another search will show the league stats for teams and their special teams’ performances and, to be honest, what I see is a special teams unit that used to be average but, over the past couple of seasons, has started to improve and was, indeed, pretty decent when it came to the kick-return aspect of the game — I must be looking at different sources as I’ve seen reports of them being down at the bottom of the stat piles in special teams this year.
As I said, I’m not sure what to make of this hire as there must be fuel to the fire of hatred towards him (I read that he only kept his job because of his close friendship to Bruce Arians who was unwilling to fire him) but all I can go off at this stage are the stats and, to me, they look pretty good over the past season or two (you’ve got to remember the kind of football I’m used to watching these days, hehe).
Maybe a Cardinals fan who’s watched his special teams over recent years can educate me on Jones as I’m intrigued. Please feel free to leave a comment in the section below the post.
All-in-all, I’m happy with these three hires and I can’t wait to see what the Browns bring to the field in 2018. I think they have a vastly improved staff now compared to last season and I’m already loving what John Dorsey is building.
I think that it can only be a good thing to have two fiery coordinators leading the offence and the defensive units as they are both motivated to succeed and seem to have quite big egos of their own. This should breed the right kind of mentality in the players with some pretty interesting training sessions and competitions as neither coach will want those egos/reputations bruising as they push their players hard to be the best unit on the team.
I must admit that I was starting to worry that Hue Jackson had decided, once his position as head coach seemed secure, not to hire an offensive coordinator and would keep the playcalling job on gamedays. Thankfully we now have an experienced playcaller who should be doubly motivated to beat the division-rival Steelers twice a season and Hue can concentrate on the “CEO coach role” as he thinks of it as being.
Title image credit: Cleveland Browns Twitter page