We’re three games into Freddie Kitchens’s first full season as head coach in Cleveland, and so far things have been rather chaotic. The Browns are 1-2 and one of the more heavily penalized teams in the league, and Kitchens often looks and coaches like a guy who was handed the headset after winning a contest.
Take the fourth quarter of last night’s loss to the Rams, during which the Browns repeatedly tried and failed to put together a game-winning drive. Kitchens made plenty of strange decisions in that quarter that ultimately ended up not mattering—what exactly was he doing with all those timeouts?—but one call sticks out, and very much did matter. The Browns had the ball at the Rams’ 40-yard line with just over nine minutes left to play, and on 4th-and-9 Kitchens decided to hit them with... this:
A draw play! On fourth down! With nine yards to go! That’s exactly the sort of inexplicable call sticks to a coach in the aftermath of a loss, and can earn him a reputation as a guy who doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. It’s to Kitchens’s credit that he was able to come right out and admit how bad the call was during his postgame presser:
Kitchens wasn’t satisfied with self-flagellating over that particular boner, though. He was also asked why, with his team down near the opponents’ goal line with under a minute to play and armed with three timeouts, he never gave Chubb a chance to run the ball in for what could have been the game-tying score. “I should have ran it one time,” he told reporters. “I should have, that’s why I’m kicking myself in the ass for it right now.”
There’s something charming about an NFL coach who is willing to stand at the podium and tell everyone about all the specific moments in which he fucked up, but this will only be endearing for so long. Nobody needs to be reminded about the hype and expectations that followed the Browns into this season. The problem with an organization spending an entire offseason beating its chest about how things are different now is that, when the season starts, things actually have to be different. “Freddie Bathrooms” may have been a fun character to have around few season ago, but what the Browns need now is a coach who can just win some damn games.