Freddie Kitchens

USA Today

Star Of The NFL Owner's Meetings

Freddie Freaking Kitchens.

March 27, 2019 - 9:49 am

There are a ton of things to talk about this morning. There was the battle of the MVP candidates in Milwaukee where the Bucks stomped the Rockets 108-94 in a game they held James Harden to 9 of 26 from the field. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, are you prepared for a world in which the Milwaukee Bucks are hosting Game 1 of the NBA Finals? Because we could be in that world in a matter of months.

And then there’s the Sweet Sixteen that’s about to tip off tomorrow. And then there are the NFL Owners Meetings. And that is dominating everything. And there is one star of that set of meetings. And it’s not who you think it is.

It wasn’t Jets coach Adam Gase being asked about how long Tom Brady will play and responding: “I don’t know. When I wake up, I feel like bleep. And he’s older than me.”

Great line and the stone cold truth. Tip of the cap, Gase. You nailed that. But Gase isn’t the star.

Nor was it Bill Belichick who had a bunch of questions to answer and did exactly what you thought he would do – answer none of them.

Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweeted: ‘Bill Belichick fielded 116 questions over 43 minutes this morning (2.7 questions per minute). He said 1,790 words, an average of 15.4 per response. His most frequent phrases were “we’ll see” (21 times) and “I don’t know” (13 times).’

Man, it’s hilarious! Homeboy slays me every freaking time! MY MAN IS wacky and zany and fresh AS HELL. ! LIKE… Because you know he can answer the questions, but he chooses not to! DAMN THAT’S GOOD! And not at all tired. Not tired at all!

Remember that time Belichick kept saying “We’re on to Cincinnati”?!! Or how about that time where he said “No days off.” FREAKING HILARITY!

It’s like when Nick Saban harshes out at everyone for no reason and everyone says, that’s just wacky Nick, the bitter ol man next door. Stay the hell off his lawn, and be grateful he chewed your ass, you’re lucky he even bitters out for you bastards, LEAVE NICKY AND HOODY ALONE!  YEAH.  NOT TIRED AT ALL.  AND NOT AT ALL DEMEANING to everyone involved.

But even Belichick, as fresh as he is, was not the star. The star of the meetings has been ONE Freddie Kitchens. Check that, I better go government on him: Freddie Freaking Kitchens.

Am I doing a take on the Cleveland Browns in late March?

Am I taking time out of college basketball and the NBA to talk about a team that hasn’t finished above .500 since 2007?

You’re damn right I am.

Because Freddie Kitchens is dominating those meetings.

Where do you want to start? First off, there was the fact that he was wearing a hat with the Brownie elf on it and sportcoat, UNBELIEVABLE LOOK. LOOK GOOD, FEEL GOOD, FEEL GOOD, COACH GOOD. AND HE LOOKS GREAT.

And then there was how he handled the media. He didn’t blow people off, he didn’t say “we’ll see” a two dozen times and call it a day. He engaged. He actually listened to and responded to questions. And he wasn’t looking at his watch and doing everyone a huge favor just by being there. Like with this answer to the question of what is the first thing you’ll say to Odell Beckham Jr when you meet him?

Beckham saw that and retweeted it with three laughing emojis and “done and done.”

That’s awesome. And that’s a glimpse into why Freddie is Freddie and why he’s so good. Not just because he dials up a nasty offense, but because he’s authentic and because he connects with his players. They did things with that offense after he took over that you are not supposed to be able to do in such a short time. But he did it. Part of that is scheme, but part of that is the way he connects with his players: all of them!

That said, he’s a first time head coach taking over a locker room with Odell, Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, so how is he going to handle a locker room with all those big personalities?

Answer: "Am I not a big personality? I mean hell, I think I'm a pretty big personality. I'm just kidding. You know what, I think sometimes people equate their personality with the passion they have for the game. And the passion they have for life. I'm going to treat Odell just like I treat everybody. He's got my trust and I'm going to have his. And then if we all know that we're in this thing together, and we're doing it for the same goal, the same purpose, that will never be a problem."

Don’t sell yourself short, you are a huge personality, Fred. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Freddie Kitchens is a star.

But he’s a star who knows himself. And he’s not looking to be what he’s not. Nor is he looking to make it about himself.

“You guys are worried about me, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. OK? Because I love the passion and I love the intelligence and I love the fact that it’s important to those guys because you need that before you can build a team. And that’s what we’re gonna do.”

But it isn’t just that there are big personalities, for the first time in decades, there are big expectations. Not just winning record expectations. Not just making the playoffs expectations. But winning the division and making a Super Bowl run expectations. How do you deal with that?

"First and foremost, you have to have those expectations within your team, before you are ever going to get anywhere, alright. You're either going to have bad expectations, or good expectations, and I'd much rather them be good because ... At least we have the potential. Or at least other people think we have the potential. But that doesn't affect our expectations, and our expectations are going to be that high. And that's where we want them.”

But all those expectations are pressure, right? Not to Freddie.

"The pressure is on somebody that gets up in the morning and doesn't have any money and has a baby to feed, and his wife just left him, who doesn't have a job. That's pressure. That's real life. The pressure on us is just to win or lose. We're just going to perform the best we can and we'll what happens."

He's not feeling the pressure. He's feeling the excitement. And if you aren't feeling that excitement too, you better check yourself. Because the Browns aren’t his problem you are. Freddie’s not the problem, he’s the freaking solution. You have a problem with Freddie Kitchens, you have a problem with you?  You have a problem with Freddie Kitchens that just means your life didn’t turn out the way you thought or hoped it would. 

Again, this is an offense that took off in the second half of the season with a rookie quarterback and an offensive coordinator who had been promoted out of a chaotic situation. This is an offense that has Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, and a host of weapons. And they just added Beckham.  

Kitchens was asked if Beckham and Mayfield could be dynamite together. His response: “I hope so, and I hope we blow a bunch of stuff up.”

Hell yes. America’s Team and America’s Coach. Blow a bunch of stuff up, Freddie. Do the damn thing. I’m not going to guarantee a Super Bowl win; not yet anyway. But they are the team to beat in the AFC North. They are going to make the playoffs; and they are going to do some damage once they get there. Because they are America’s team. I said last year on the NFL on CBS prior to them playing and beating the Ravens: the Browns are America’s team. They have America’s coach in Freddie Kitchens and America’s quarterback in Baker Mayfield; and a helluva lot of talent around them on both sides of the ball. And if Cleveland making the playoffs, finally, is inevitable, y’all might as well just sit back and enjoy it. Because it is going to happen.