Another day, another couple of hires. This time, the Browns get things going with an in house promotion:
Browns will name Freddie Kitchens head coach (1/9)
Maybe the hottest NFL head coach opening is now closed. The Cleveland Browns have looked within their current coaching staff and identified the guy they want to maximize Baker Mayfield moving forward:
Freddie Kitchens will be named new Browns head coach later today, per sources.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 9, 2019
At the beginning of the hiring process for these teams, the most attention was given to Cleveland for a litany of reasons. The main one of course is Baker Mayfield, who was probably the most exciting rookie QB in at least a few years.
A pretty big factor in Baker’s mid season breakout was the hiring of Kitchens to offensive coordinator after the Hue Jackson/Todd Haley power struggle ended like a Mexican standoff at the end of a Tarantino movie. The winner from that dustup was A) Gregg Williams who was able to somewhat rehabilitate a pretty broken public image and B) Kitchens for getting the nod to be Cleveland’s next coach.
After a buzzy search that included names like Mike McCarthy, Bruce Arians, and Kevin Stefanski, the Browns decided to stick with something they had already seen work pretty well. That would be the pairing of Kitchens and Mayfield which not only was productive on the field, but seems to be a good interpersonal matchup as well.
While a big name a-la Lincoln Riley was maybe expected back in November, this definitely seems to be the right move after Kitchens got the most from Mayfield. Sometimes the internal hire is the correct way to go, and this looks to be one of those times; for Browns fans, all they really want to see is wins, and we’ll see if Kitchens can bring those to them.
After this season, there’s evidence he could do so if they’re able to continue their offensive roll under him. Cleveland has been picked on for 20 years and rightfully so but moves like this and some of the other important ones they’ve made in the past year or so may suggest they’re heading in the right direction.
Denver Broncos hire Vic Fangio (1/9)
Another opening down, this one not nearly as buzzy as Cleveland currently, but a much more storied franchise to be fair. The Broncos have agreed to terms with former Bears DC Vic Fangio:
Denver reached agreement with Bears’ DC Vic Fangio to become the Broncos’ next head coach, sources tell me and @DanGrazianoESPN. It will be a four-year deal plus a team option for a fifth, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 9, 2019
This one’s interesting in that skews so far off of all the trends we’ve been seeing over the past few years, as well as the few hires that have happened so far. Fangio, a longtime defensive coordinator, is reportedly bringing in current Broncos front office employee Gary Kubiak to be the offensive coordinator.
This is a strong hire from both a scheme and experience standpoint, and should quell any fear that they don’t have any plan offensively which was sure to be a talking point as a result of hiring a defensive coach. Still, it is definitely different than the prototypical young offensive mind most organizations are looking for, and it’s fair to wonder what Fangio may bring to the table that’s any different than Vance Joseph.
They’ve certainly opted to go against what the flavor of the month is for a new head coach, so we’ll see how that pays off for the increasingly tenuous job security of John Elway. If anything, it may do more for him than any of these offensive innovators down the road which would be a funny twist of fate.
New York Jets hire Adam Gase (1/9)
The New York Jets are the next off the board, plucking a former AFC East rival coach from the increasingly shallow pool of candidates:
This had been rumored for a while, and will now officially take place in order to try and jumpstart the career of Sam Darnold. Jets fans will likely have mixed feelings due to Gase’s track record of mediocrity in Miami, but there’s cause for optimism if you trust certain people who unequivocally have his back.
Chief among them is Peyton Manning, who played under Gase for the Denver Broncos. Manning was reportedly telling anyone who would listen that the former head man in Miami got a raw deal, and can still be a good coach elsewhere.
Ultimately, we’ll just have to wait and see how it shakes out; he’ll be expected to get the best out of Darnold when he wasn’t able to do so with Ryan Tannehill, but at this point the former looks appreciably more promising than the latter. With a better talent at quarterback, Gase may just be able to show his true potential that people such as Manning believe that he has.