5 potential candidates to become Browns offensive coordinator

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.

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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.

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Report: Jets looking at Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator

Per a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the New York Jets are interested in freshly available former Cleveland Browns interim head coach Gregg Williams for their vacant defensive coordinator position. New Jets head coach Adam Gase is looking to fill out his staff, and reports indicate Williams is on his list of interest.

Williams was let go from the Browns on Wednesday when the team announced Freddie Kitchens would be the new head coach. The 60-year-old Williams served as the Browns defensive coordinator for 2017-18 before taking over for the deposed Hue Jackson.

It’s an interesting choice. Williams proved his worth as the interim head coach in Cleveland, but his defensive units were not good. Despite having the likes of Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Joe Schobert, Damarious Randall, Larry Ogunjobi and Jabrill Peppers, the Browns ranked in the bottom 3 in total defense in 2018.

Gregg Williams shows class in thanking Browns, fans on his way out of Cleveland

The decision to let Gregg Williams go could not have been an easy one for the Cleveland Browns. As the interim head coach, Williams proved exactly what the doctor ordered to cure the team of what infected them during the Hue Jackson era.

Williams clearly treasured his time running the Browns and laying the groundwork for the ascending young team. He released a heartfelt and encouraging statement after his dismissal from the coaching staff following the hiring of Freddie Kitchens.

His influence on the young players will not be forgotten. Thanks, coach.

A Radical Idea for the Next NFL TV Deals: Get Rid of DirecTV Sunday Ticket

The NFL rights deals are coming up. Monday Night Football is up in 2021, and the packages held by NBC, FOX, and CBS are up in 2022. Given the magnitude of these deals that will total tens of billions of dollars, we’re going to hear a lot about them until they get done. I have an idea that would benefit the whole viewing audience: Get rid of Sunday Ticket and air all the games on normal TV like college football does.

On Tuesday, Andrew Marchand reported that ABCappears to be getting its ducks in a row to bid on a Sunday afternoon package. He wrote that this would mean going after the games currently airing on CBS and/or FOX. As I’ve written before, ESPN/ABC badly want in the Super Bowl cycle.

In my opinion, CBS makes sense in part because they’re vulnerable right now in a leadership vacuum following the exit of Les Moonves. That being said, the last time they lost the NFL — to FOX in the early 90’s — it sent the whole network into a tailspin. They’ll be reminded of this constantly. It’s highly unlikely to me that FOX, which has a tremendous relationship with the League that was on full display with the improved branding of Thursday Night Football this season, would lose their games.

We know that the NFL always like to have one more bidding network than there are windows, but this would be a fascinating scenario: Instead of cutting CBS (or FOX) out of the package (or not giving a package to ABC), the NFL creates another tranche for the networks, instead bows out of DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket exclusivity, and airs a majority of their games on a combination of broadcast and cable on Sundays.

Think about how awesome it would be if NFL games were spread across FOX, FS1, FS2, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, CBSSN, and NFL Network, like the games are distributed in college football (with the conference nets added in). They could even get wild and squeeze a few extra bucks out of us by putting all the London games exclusively on ESPN+ or some other streaming platform (DAZN? Amazon?). In this scenario, NBC would keep Sunday Night Football, and ESPN would keep MNF.

According to Mike Florio, the NFL has an option in its contract with DirecTV to opt out of the deal after next season. It would be an extremely consumer friendly thing for them to do. Even if it diminished some of the audience of the biggest Sunday afternoon games, it would almost certainly increase aggregate viewership of the league’s product.

But here’s the rub: Everyone on the planet knows there’s no reason besides Sunday Ticket to be a DirecTV subscriber. Even at $400 a season, Sunday Ticket is a loss leader for DirecTV, which gains the ancillary benefit of having all those customers as subscribers for the rest of the year. DirecTV as a product does not have any other meaningful incremental benefits over the cable bundle, and it winds up costing more in total each month because you still have to pay the cable company for Internet.

DirecTV, whose parent company AT&T’s merger with Time Warner (and thus Turner Sports) remains in legal limbo, is already hemorrhaging satellite subscribers; if it lost Sunday Ticket why on Earth would anyone with an alternative remain one, unless they cut prices? The NFL really has them over a barrel here, and our best hope as fans is that they make such a draconian offer that DirecTV is the big loser in the game of musical chairs.

As it is, Red Zone Channel has already eliminated a lot of the urgency for Sunday Ticket for broader fans of the league, but Sunday Ticket is still aggravatingly essential if you’re a die hard fan out of market from your favorite team. Under my proposal, just about every game would air on TV. Here’s to hoping DirecTV can’t match the bids that the networks would combine to make in my dream world!

4 things to know about new Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens

1.Freddie Kitchens is a familiar name as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He’s been with the team for almost exactly a year, first as an offensive assistant and then the interim offensive coordinator for the final eight games.

The 44-year-old Alabama native has an interesting past. Here are a few things to know about the new Browns head coach.

2.He put his mark on the Alabama passing record book

Crimson Tide fans don’t recall the period between Bear Bryant and Nick Saban too fondly, but Kitchens made a name for himself in that era in Tuscaloosa. He was the primary starting QB for Alabama from 1995-97, leading the team to two bowl appearances as a top-flight recruit.

Despite being just over a 50 percent passer, Kitchens did manage to throw for 30 TDs. When he left Alabama, he ranked in the top five passing attempts, yards and completions and led the team to a 22-13 record as a starter.

3.Kitchens draws laughs in his press conferences

If he weren’t a football coach, Kitchens might have a career as a self-deprecating comedian. His Browns press conferences frequently featured pauses for genuine laughter from the gathered media, and the humor was often at his own expense.

Kitchens is readily at ease with his down-home Alabama roots, his middle-aged pudginess and his relationship with his players. He’s comfortable being Freddie Kitchens and that puts everyone around him at ease.

4.He’s lucky to be alive

While he was coaching with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, Kitchens had emergency open heart surgery to fix an issue with his aorta. Just 38 at the time, Kitchens collapsed on the practice field.

Trainers quickly rushed to his aid and got him immediate medical attention. Had he been almost anywhere else, his condition would have resulted in his untimely death. Kitchens candidly talked about his near-death experience with NFL.com after his recovery.

5.He got his NFL coaching start under Bill Parcells

After a few collegiate coaching stops, including Mississippi State and LSU, Kitchens earned his first NFL coaching paycheck with the 2006 Dallas Cowboys. Bill Parcells was the head coach on that team. Kitchens served as the TE coach, working with All-Pro Jason Witten.

He moved onto the Arizona Cardinals after that season, which infamously ended when Tony Romo botched a 19-yard field goal snap in a playoff loss to Seattle. His head coach in Arizona was Ken Whisenhunt. The offensive coordinator on that Cards team was none other than Todd Haley, the man he replaced as the OC in Cleveland in 2018.

Why Freddie Kitchens was the right choice for the Browns as head coach

The Browns got this one right. Hiring Freddie Kitchens as the new head coach is the best possible move for Cleveland.

Sure, that’s been said before. Some of us genuinely liked the decision to hire Hue Jackson when it first happened.

Live and learn. And what mistakes the Browns have made over the years with Jackson and myriad other coaching hires has taught me that hiring Freddie Kitchens as the new head coach is the right move.

The culture Kitchens instilled in the offense in his eight-game audition is something the entire team can buy into and rally around. He’s creative, he’s innovative, and perhaps a little bit crazy. The players appreciate that.

Like Cleveland, he’s an underdog. Sensational rookie QB Baker Mayfield is, too. Kitchens has never been anyone’s first choice. He knows how to sell that to a team ready to shatter the long-lasting legacy of losing. The city is more than ready to bite, too.

On a more pragmatic level, Kitchens revolutionized the offense almost overnight. ESPN provides an excellent graphic representation of the Kitchens impact on Mayfield, who won NFL Rookie of the Week five times in these eight weeks:

Gregg Williams relieved of duties, no longer with Browns

With the move to hire Freddie Kitchens as the new head coach, the Cleveland Browns have informed interim head coach Gregg Williams his services are no longer needed. Per Dan Graziano and Pat McManamon of ESPN, Williams is no longer with the Browns.

Williams went 5-3 as the interim head coach following Hue Jackson’s dismissal. His Browns were organized, passionate and exciting. He was promoted from defensive coordinator.

The veteran defensive coach did interview for the head coach position, but the organization has opted to move on from Williams. His defense ranked 21st in scoring and 30th in yards allowed in 2018, his second season in Cleveland.