Head coach Freddie Kitchens wishes to make it known that under no circumstances will any sensitive or inside information be leaked from the Cleveland Browns organization under his watch, period. Or, at the very least, there will be hell to pay for anyone who passes such information along to the press.
That was the boldest message Kitchens delivered during his post-practice media availability Monday afternoon, when he was asked about recent criticism from former Browns offensive line coach and actual walrus Bob Wylie. Wylie, who was fired by the Browns back in January, went on the radio on Saturday and bagged the choice by general manager John Dorsey to elevate Kitchens to head coach after last season. By Wylie’s estimation, former interim head coach Gregg Williams and former quarterbacks coach Kenny Zampese were much more responsible for Cleveland’s late turnaround last season following the firing of head coach Hue Jackson—Wylie says Kitchens is head coach today because he is well-liked by quarterback Baker Mayfield. From a cleveland.com summary of Wylie’s comments:
“Baker (Mayfield) likes Freddie,’’ Wylie said on The Zach Gelb Show on CBS Sports Radio. “There’s a good relationship there even though (former Browns QB coach) Kenny Zampese did all the coaching there. Baker likes Freddie, so that had to (factor) into the decision.”
“(But) Freddie didn’t have any coordinator experience or head coaching experience.”
Kitchens largely overhauled the coaching staff upon taking over as head coach during the off-season, something that evidently rankled the dismissed coaches, including Wylie. Wylie said that he learned about his own firing from his daughter, while he was in the hospital recovering from serious ankle and knee injuries.
“My daughter called me and said, ‘Hey, dad, you just got fired today,’’ Wylie said. “That’s the first time I head about it. I was laying in hospital bed. They packed up my office and they put my office in storage because I was still in the hospital. So that’s how it all kind of went down. That stuff happens in the National Football League.”
Kitchens was asked about all this after practice Monday. He disputed the characterization of Wylie’s firing, saying that Wylie’s contract was up following the season, that Wylie had talked about retiring, and, cryptically, that “Bob knows what happened.” There’s also a delightful smarm maneuver from Kitchens in there, as first he gently scolds the media for distracting from the impressive fan turnout at practice, and the ticket proceeds gained for a worthy cause, and later for failing to properly credit the players who were the actual force behind last season’s turnaround. It was a committed and entertaining series of deflections from someone who no doubt considers himself a plain-spoken football man:
Kitchens took an unexpected little detour in the middle of the discussion, to deliver a stern message to players and coaches and everyone else in the organization: he intends to fire anyone who gives anonymous quotes or leaked information to the media. Which of course leaves open the question of how exactly he intends to identify anonymous sources of information, but anyway I suppose that’s his problem, now:
“You know, the days of inside information, and the days of, of, uhh, unnamed sources and stuff like that have ended. So, you’re not gonna get any information like that, ever. Anybody. And if I ever see it, they’re fired, immediately. That’s the way we’re running this organization. And I can take it. John Dorsey can take it. We won’t crack, I promise you.”
It’s not quite “that’s Detroit Lions information,” but I am enjoying the thought of Kitchens interrogating his assistant coaches under the hot lamp in Week 7 over the kinds of dipshit rumors and rumblings that flow like water out of all professional sports teams, all the time. Good luck with that, coach.