HC Freddie Kitchens (12.29.19)
Initial comments …
“That was a tough one. The guys played their asses off; they kept fighting. I thought we would get that during the course of the week, but at the end of the day, we didn’t make enough plays. That is what I told them. They should hold their head high. They kept fighting to the very end. Some of the plays they made at the end to give us an opportunity to get back into the game, (they were) very good to see. They kept competing. We have a lot of guys in the locker room that it means something to, and that is good to see. That is what it’s going to take.”
What are your thoughts on 6-10?
“It’s not even remotely good enough. We are not running an operation here to try and be 6-10. We are trying to win every time going out, and we didn’t get that done this year. Moving forward we have to do a much better job of coaching, playing, making plays, and being in situations where we perform better.”
Have you been told anything about your future?
“Just like I told you before, I am concentrating on today. Last Wednesday, I was concentrating on Wednesday. That is truly how I approach things — just do what’s best today.”
Is this one of the lower points in the season, losing to a team that was 1-14?
“The difference between the first time we played them and today, is they were one out of five in the red zone at our place, and they were four out of five today. They were almost 70 percent on third down. We couldn’t get off the field. They played well against us last time. They played well last week. They played well the last eight, nine weeks. As far back as we’ve looked at them, they have played well. It’s tough to win, and they just came up short a few times. They were in a lot of games, and my hats off to them. They kept fighting as well.”
Would you be surprised if you were let go?
“I am looking forward to tomorrow. We have meetings scheduled into next week. I am looking forward to going to work tomorrow. I truly don’t buy into the speculation. I will show up tomorrow and do the best job (I can) for the Browns tomorrow.”
Were there one or two things that didn’t click that led to your record?
“At the end of the day, any time you are not to the point to where you want to be, you can always say you didn’t do enough execution, (or) you didn’t make enough plays. The game of football is about making plays. Case closed. There are several things I could have done better. I will critique myself and be better next year. I try to do that every week, critique myself. Hopefully, we have enough people that will do the same thing. Our focus is turned to free agency now — see what we can do getting ready for the draft. It’s a never-ending process. You just move on and keep going.”
Was the job a bigger process than you thought it was going to be?
“It’s a big challenge. There were a lot of firsts. I am not making any excuses. But, I think I learned over the course of the year, so I can be a better version of myself going forward. That is the only thing you can do. When something arises, you make the best decision you can, and then learn from your mistakes.”
Do you have a confidence that you will be back?
“I haven’t been told anything different. They expect me to do my job, and I am going to show up tomorrow and do my job. They haven’t given me any indication of anything else. (Cleveland Browns owners) Mr. Jimmy Haslam and Dee Haslam, they want me to do my job, and that is what I am going to do. I am going to do my job until they tell me not to. I think they just want me to do my job. I don’t know how else to answer it. I haven’t been told anything. I seriously don’t want to get into speculation. I haven’t been told anything. They just want me to do my job to the best of my ability tomorrow; just like I am going to try to do this press conference, to the best of my ability.”
Are you going to ask them if they will let you continue to do your job?
“I am going to show up and do my job. Does anyone else have a suggestion? I don’t know.”
Was it hard to coach this game with all the speculation out there about your job?
“I truly understand where speculation comes from. It comes from all areas. There are a lot of people that benefit from putting speculation out there. I am just going to tell it like it is. There are a lot of people that benefit from putting speculation out there. But unless they get it from the people that actually make that decision, it’s speculation. It’s just fodder. So I know where speculation comes from, so I don’t worry about it. I just do my job. Sometimes it was good enough, sometimes it wasn’t. I am going to learn from my mistakes, and I feel like they know that. I am sure you guys will be the first to know. I am just going to show up tomorrow and do my job.”
How do you want to be remembered?
“I want to be remembered by showing up tomorrow, doing my job and getting ready for free agency. Getting these guys out of here from that standpoint of talking to them about how they can get better over the course of the week. I have a meeting scheduled with our guys, individually, every five minutes from 10:30 to five. We’ve got a meeting in the morning to talk about personnel. We have a team meeting at 10:30, and then I will start at 11 until 5. We have meetings scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I am just trying to better tomorrow and show up to do my job tomorrow.”
It seems like the defense never recovered from losing Myles Garrett to suspension …
“Any time you lose a guy like Myles — he is one of the best in the league — of course you going to take a step back. I do think we had guys that came in and fought. On the other side with (defensive end Olivier Vernon) — (we lost) both of them, and we lost both of them for an extended period of time. Olivier gutted through it today and made a couple of plays. We brought some guys in, and the other side didn’t look anything like it did earlier in the season. I think they did a good job of getting those guys ready to play and play hard, and they kept playing hard. Then we lost one (defensive end Bryan Cox) during the course of the game today. Those (guys) did a good job of battling, and that is all you can do. Sometimes you get the breaks, and sometimes you don’t. We didn’t get very many breaks today, and we just didn’t make enough plays.”
What did you say to Baker Mayfield during your embrace on the sidelines, and what can you say about his performance this year?
“I think he grew a lot this season. Not everything can you see in the stats. But he learned a lot this season, and he will be better moving forward because of it. The reason I gave him a hug — and he wasn’t the only one I gave a hug to — (is that) I appreciate those guys’ efforts. I appreciate the way they compete. Those are the things I worry about — execution, competing, effort and toughness, mentally and physically. All the intangibles (are what) I appreciate guys extensively for. That play he made on the sidelines (in the fourth quarter), you don’t think this game meant something to him? We had a lot of guys playing like that today.”
Why do you think it would be the right thing to do to bring you back for a second chance?
“You say second chance, but it’s still the same chance. I don’t know that anyone thought I was a finished product. I am not lobbying for it. They know I want the job; I took the job last year. To me, it’s not a second chance. Let’s keep building on what we are doing. I haven’t heard anything from them. I am not assuming anything. That is you guys speculating. But you may know more than me, I don’t know. But like I said, I am going to do my job until something changes.”
Would you consider staff changes?
“I am just starting that evaluation. I understand the desire to know, but we just finished a ball game. We have a lot of evaluations to do. There will always be evaluations, critiquing. Questions have to be answered honestly, and sometimes, the answers aren’t good. You put your best foot forward about being honest about the situation. (General Manager John Dorsey) and I have very frank conversations. We have good relationship. That is what we will continue to do going forward. Everything else is just speculation.”
With three interceptions, was Baker pressing?
“Baker will get better from today. He got better over the course of the season. A lot of those interceptions happened early in the season, and he will continue to get better. He will be better next year than he was this year.”
After waiting so long to be a head coach, was it what you thought?
“I wouldn’t be honest if I answered that right now. I truly just tried to stay in the moment.”
How do you think you improved from Week 1 to Week 17?
“Anytime you do a job, hopefully you are learning while you are doing it. I don’t care if it’s 20 years from now, you should still be learning. I am pretty sure some of the best ever are continuing to learn. You are always evolving and learning.”
Do you think you did a good enough job to remain as head coach?
“Again, that is speculation. I know I critique myself, and I know I will be better. Every situation is different. You have to make sure you use good judgment in that current situation.”