Skip to content

Grading Freddie Kitchens Play-Calling

The Cleveland Browns have gotten off to a questionable start in the 2019 season. There’s plenty of blame to go around in the locker room, but one aspect of the offense scuffling is due to the play calling. Freddie Kitchens took it upon himself to take over that role, even with the offensive guru Todd Monken as the offensive coordinator. Freddie led the charge last season with his impeccable play calling, but he had escaped the formula that was working so well. Last season, the Browns were in front of the rest of the league (for weeks 9-17 after Jackson got fired) when it came to early-down yards per play. The Browns were first in early down yards because they ran play-action 30% of the time, with an actual running game Baker was able to find open receivers with regularity.

Through the first three games, the Browns ranked 20th in the league in early down yards and were using play-action 7% less.

In this breakdown, I’ll point out Freddies poor play calling through the young season also his best calls. Before I do that, I’ll point out that the game against the Ravens was decidedly different from the previous three. Though there were some questionable calls in that game, the use of Baker and Nick Chubb worked to perfection with plenty of play-action passing and big plays coming as a result.

The Good

Freddie Kitchens certainly has a creative bone when constructing plays. He also has plenty of weapons to work with on the offense. Iv recently heard from other analysts that they did not like all the “cute” play calls from the Browns sideline; Specifically, the play OBJ threw a pass to Landry and completed for 15 yards. I beg the differ; I love that Kitchens isn’t afraid to use OBJs’ natural talent to play quarterback spontaneously.

Against the 49ers, the first play of the game featured Odell in the backfield and making a play to Landry for a 15 yard gain (as explained above). Then in the second quarter (2nd and 8 at the Cleveland 42), Odell returned to the backfield as a decoy. Beckham broke right when the ball got snapped, as he broke right so did every defensive player that had their eyes on him. Nick Chubb then took off to the left with the ball for a 37 yard gain.

I thought it was nothing short of brilliant. As far as a grade goes for Freddie Kitchens on the season, I have to give him a C-. I am still in favor of him handing over the playcalling to offensive coordinator Todd Monken, but time will tell if Kitchens is truly this stubborn, or if he feels he is still the man for the job.

The Bad:

I’ll focus on the week three matchup against the Rams when it became evident that Kitchens’ play calling was in question — 4th and nine at the 40-yard line facing a cover two defense. The decision to go for it isn’t a bad idea because if you don’t get the first down, the Rams still have a good ways to go to reach the end-zone. Freddie chose to run a draw play in this instance; as the right side of the offensive line is going to block their men, Mr. Eric Weddle is the only one who could have come up and make the play. Of all the people to challenge in that secondary, why on earth would it be Eric Weddle. Weddle sniffed out the play call and closed in on Chubb to stop the Browns in their tracks.

Let’s fast forward to the end of the game; the Browns still had a chance to tie the game, reaching the red zone. First and goal was a throw to the corner of the endzone on a fade by Landry. Under heavy pressure, Baker missed the throw. Second down, the pass got tipped with Baker looking in the direction of Damian Ratley, missing Odell, who was wide open in the endzone. Third down was a drop by Demetrius Harris; the Rams intercepted the fourth-down play.

Does anyone else see the problem here? Odell Beckham Jr. got zero targes; not only that, Nick Chubb didn’t have any involvement in any of the plays to get into the endzone. That is just ludicrous.

The Ugly

With 10:43 on the clock in the 4th quarter, Freddie Kitchens arguably has his worst moment as an NFL head coach. As Baker and the Browns line up to run a play, there is a 12th man on the field trying to run off for Seattle. The ball is snapped and in time to get the penalty called on the Seahawks; the play resulted in Jarvis Landry breaking the plain for a touchdown and fumbling the ball forward. The refs didn’t call it that way, so Freddie went ballistic, calling the entire officiating crew over to the sideline. The officials then left the sideline and took their places, the Browns then went to the huddle…lined up…and snapped the ball. The play resulted in a Nick Chubb walk-in touchdown. Great right? Not exactly; the whistles blew the game dead, but only as the hole was opening for Nick to run through (exceptionally late by the officials).

There are so many things wrong with that last sequence; it makes my head hurt. Freddie Kitchens wiped out a touchdown with a late challenge flag (that the refs did not have to honor as the ball had been snapped); only to have to ruling on the field stand as a fumble before the ball crossed the plain. (which is also crap)

Overall Grade for Freddie: D-

Leave a Comment

Scroll To Top