A new era of football has begun in Cleveland under the guidance of general manager John Dorsey and now, under the leadership of Freddie Kitchens. The Browns 17th coach in franchise history is all but official, and that could be either good or bad. A few reasons as to why it is taking so long for the Browns to formally announce Kitchens as their head coach is because they are putting the finishing touches on the contract, and filling out his coaching staff.
The coaching staff that surrounds Kitchens will be as important as anything else the Browns do this offseason. They already have one of the league’s best talent evaluators in John Dorsey and have the three most positions in football well covered — quarterback, pass rusher, and cornerback. In addition, they have their offensive-minded head coach to pair with Baker Mayfield in Kitchens and that marriage seems to be everything you look for between a quarterback and his coach after seeing the two during the second half of the 2018 season.
Kitchens will reportedly call his own plays but will also still be in the market for an offensive coordinator. There is still potential that they just leave that position vacant but it’s trending in the direction that Cleveland would like to give Kitchens someone to help him scheme from an offensive standpoint throughout the week. Here are five names that could become offensive coordinator under Kitchens and the Browns:
Todd Monken, Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator (2016-2018)
Despite being a coach for over 30 years, Monken had his first opportunity solely as offensive coordinator just last season. With high boom/high bust quarterback play, a lackluster run game, and plenty of options at receiver, the Buccaneers ranked third in the NFL in yards per game, 12th in points per game and had the league’s top passing offense with 320 passing yards per game. Tampa Bay earned one of their wins in 2018 against the Browns in a game that they hung 26 points on the Hue Jackson led the team.
As a result of Monken’s success with Tampa Bay, he received a head coaching interview with the Jets and was considered for the Packers job. After missing on the big seat, he is now on the lookout to be a coordinator. In addition, he will interview for the Browns gig this weekend, according to NFL Network.
This is one name to watch for Browns fans.
Jim Bob Cooter, Lions offensive coordinator (2015-18)
Following a poor performance on the offensive side of the ball for the Lions, Detroit opted not to renew Cooter’s contract for a fifth season. Believe it or not, Cooter did have one good season in Detroit in 2017, when the Lions finished seventh in the NFL in points per game and 13th in passing yards per game. However, that is about as good as it gets for his four-year resume as a coordinator.
As a free agent coach, Cooter has found his name in the mix for the Browns gig according to NFL Network. I, personally, could think of many others to fill this role but maybe a change of scenery could be good for him. Either way, this is another name Browns fans should become familiar with.
Mike McDaniel, 49ers Run Game Coordinator (2017-present)
McDaniel is a name that may seem unfamiliar to many but is one that will not be unfamiliar for too long. He received an endorsement from former Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins and quarterback Johnny Manziel as a guy team should be looking at — and rightfully so.
The 35-year old and Yale Graduate, McDaniel did a great job with a 49ers running back group that could not stay healthy for essentially the entire year. San Francisco finished 13th in the NFL in rushing yards per game and 12th in yards per attempt. His name is not unfamiliar in Cleveland either, as McDaniel served as the Browns’ wide receivers coach in 2014. Despite many different passers, the Browns pass catchers finished 13th in yards per attempt. Could McDaniel find his way back to Cleveland for a second time?
Ryan Lindley, Browns Runnings Back Coach (2018-present)
The former Cardinals quarterback, Lindley has only been a football coach for two seasons but I would not count him out. He was brought in by Kitchens mid-season to be the team’s running backs coach and is likely to stay on board for 2019 and beyond.
In the last three weeks of the season, the Browns run game ranked 10th in yards per attempt. Depending on the direction the Browns go in, Lindley could find himself as the Browns’ top offensive assistant in 2019.
John DeFilippo, Vikings Offensive Coordinator (2018)
Call this your dark horse candidate, if you will. Coming into this season, DeFilippo was thought to be one of the top head coaching candidates. That idea was scrapped once he was fired with three weeks remaining in the season by the Vikings.
In DeFilippo’s first stint as offensive coordinator for the Browns in 2015, he did a great job for what he had to work with. Since then, he has been credited with the success of Carson Wentz in Philadelphia as his quarterback’s coach during the 2016-17 season. I think Flip would serve well in a coordinator role if Kitchens was calling plays and I believe he would be nothing but great for Baker Mayfield. I will not rule it out for last season, and you should not either.