Is it officially time to panic about Freddie Kitchens? If this 2019 Browns squad is any indication, Kitchens’ days in Cleveland may already be numbered.

Towards the end of the first half on a blustery November Sunday at Heinz Field, it seemed like the Cleveland Browns had finally turned a corner. They had jumped out to a 10-0 lead and halfway through the second quarter, they seemed to be in control after putting together their second lengthy scoring drive capped off by a 15-yard Kareem Hunt catch-and-run touchdown grab from Baker Mayfield. Shame on all of us for thinking Cleveland could put this game away. 

Pittsburgh simply was more physical and showed more heart than Cleveland, and the short handed Steelers have left us wondering if Freddie Kitchens can even survive the rest of the season as the head coach. Unfortunately, there is only one word that comes to mind when you think of this 2019 Browns squad: dysfunctional.

With seemingly more twists and turns than a ‘Days of Our Lives’ plot line, this drama-filled team has looked lost for most of 2019. The ultimate crescendo of this being Myles Garrett using his helmet as a weapon and plunking Mason Rudolph right on top of his head when his helmet was off. 

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As a head coach, you should expect more from a former number one overall pick. Myles Garrett is one of the most influential players on that team because of his world-class talent, and his various antics and several NFL fines he’s received seem quite indicative of how the rest of the team functions. Whether it be allowing players to wear unapproved cleats during a game, or wearing a t-shirt that says “Pittsburgh started it”, Kitchens has been inadequate up to this point.

Admittedly, those two instances were relatively minor issues and you can’t blame all of Cleveland’s misfortunes on Kitchens, but it’s quite clear this team needs to be better. With the amount of talent still on this roster even with Myles Garrett being suspended for the year, Cleveland simply should not be this bad. Both Mayfield and Beckham have taken steps back this year, and Nick Chubb’s emergence as a superstar running back just hasn’t been enough. 

A lot of people got fooled (myself included) by all the preseason hype this team was generating. Hype about Mayfield after he had broken the rookie passing touchdown record. Hype about acquiring Odell Beckham in the off-season to pair with fellow LSU alum wide receiver Jarvis Landry. But, as the NFL reminds us every single year, games are not played on paper. And until the Browns can deliver on their promise of having a new identity, it will be hard for Cleveland, Baker Mayfield, and Beckham to shed that ‘overrated’ label.

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Cleveland would be wise to not fire Kitchens before this season is over. But for an embattled franchise that is getting sick and tired of being the perennial cellar dwellers of the NFL, you have to wonder if the patience of that front office is starting to run thin.

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