Tight Ends Coach Freddie Kitchens
December 18, 2020
Q: This is such a bizarre year. Do you sit back and kind of shake your head saying, ‘I’m going to be calling plays for the first time this year, and of course, it’s Cleveland’?
A: That’s kind of ironic. But really, it’s the next game. It truly is just the next game. It could have happened… We’ve kind of prepared for this throughout the year in training camp and things like that. It’s just kind of the next game. It just so happens we had a guy go down this week.
Q: Are you still going to do the tight ends or is somebody taking that over?
A: Well, we have a plan as a staff of how we’re organizing things and stuff like that. I’ve had Bobby Blick kind of as my assistant all year. He knows everything that’s going on in the tight end room on a daily basis, so he’ll do more of that during the game.
Q: You’ve watched Baker Mayfield a little bit this year, I’m sure. What’s the biggest difference and improvement in his game that you’ve seen going into this week? Second, with Jason (Garrett) testing positive, what’s your level of concern with how close you guys interact on a daily basis?
A: To answer your first question, obviously, the biggest thing that Baker is doing a great job of is protecting the football, and that’s where it starts at that position. As far as Jason is concerned, we knew what we were getting into when we began this year. Of course, you’re always concerned. But you try to do the things necessary and the things that are in your control of everything everybody else is trying to do. Wear a mask, stay six feet away for an extended period of time, wash your hands constantly, all those sorts of things. After you do all of those things, then it’s up to the Good Lord after that. That’s how I’d answer that question. Was I overly concerned? No, I wasn’t, to answer your question just simply, just because I feel like we all try to do everything on a daily basis to limit that.
Q: Obviously, a lot has happened since we last talked to you. I’m sure you didn’t expect to have to talk to us again this week. But I’m just wondering what has the last 24-48 hours kind of been like for you? It’s obviously a unique situation. What was your reaction to Jason getting it and finding out you’d be calling plays? What’s the last day or two been like for you?
A: It truly has just been kind of what we normally do. Nothing will truly change until we get to Sunday. Jason is still in the Zoom meetings with us and things like that. Really, at the end of the day, on a weekly basis, our game planning for practice or the games, it’s really a group effort, which it should be. That’s continued. Nothing has really changed, except for Sunday.
Q: How would you describe Freddie Kitchens the play caller, the mentality of you when you call plays?
A: I don’t get into self-descriptions of things I do and stuff like that. I kind of just try to do the best I can for the team, for our staff, for our players, and try to the best of my ability to try to put players in position to make plays.
Q: Do you just kind of want to move forward and continue on the path that Jason has been going? Or are you going to add a few little wrinkles knowing that you operate differently maybe a little bit in game?
A: Do you really think we would talk about that right now?
Q: I mean you’re not giving specifics, are you?
A: No. Nothing is changing with our offense. Our offense is our offense, and we’re just going to try to execute on a consistent basis truly. I couldn’t be any more truthful than that.
Q: There’s also the situation of which quarterback you’re going to have. Do you have to draw up two different game plans for that, or do you, without telling us the secrets, kind of already know who you’re going to be working with on Sunday?
A: I’ll let Coach Judge handle all of that stuff. I don’t even try to pretend that I’m an expert in that area.
Q: As a play caller, does anything change for you with whichever guy is the quarterback?
A: Again, you just try to put your players, whoever those players are, in a position to make plays and try to keep them in the best position possible to do that. Whoever’s in there, that’s what we’ll try to do.
Q: Do you think that you have any particular insight into the Browns that will help on Sunday?
A: I think I referenced this the other day. There are no two teams the same. There are a lot of guys that were there when I was there, but there is also a significant number that weren’t. Of course, the ones that are there, I know a little bit more about than I would if I wasn’t there. I don’t know that you gain a tremendous advantage with that.
Q: I guess what I’m asking is, obviously, the game plan that comes together, but when you’re actually calling the plays, how aware are you of the pieces on the field and how they match up in those situations?
A: I would say you do that every week. You want to make sure you kind of have a plan for their good players, and you offensively can play to your strengths and maybe some of their weaknesses, which I don’t know how many weaknesses they have. Not too many. You do that on a weekly basis no matter who you’re playing. I don’t think anything is changing this week just because it’s Cleveland and just because I was there last year. You still do the same thing. You evaluate film as a staff, you try to come up with a plan that gives you the best chance to be successful.
Q: A week after Arizona had eight sacks against you, how much of a priority is it to clean some of that up with Myles Garrett and company coming to town?
A: Protecting the ball and protecting the quarterback is of the utmost of importance for us, as in any offense. That’s where it all starts. A lot of times, those two things go hand in hand. Of course, it’s always a priority for us. Cleveland is very good upfront. The better you are upfront, the more difficult that is. We have to do a good job of putting these guys in position to be successful.
Q: Just a process question. When halftime comes in the game on Sunday, is Jason allowed to Zoom in from his couch and talk to you guys about adjustments? I really don’t know the answer.
A: I don’t know that we’ve gotten that far down the road yet. This is such a strange time for everyone, some of the little intricacies of the rules and stuff like that. I wouldn’t think that that would be allowed with the electronics protocol that the NFL emphasizes on a weekly basis. You can’t wear an Apple watch on the field, so I don’t know how they would feel about that.
Q: So, the second half will be all you? See, I trapped you there.
A: Well again, I can try to get that answer for you. But I don’t know.