By Tom Withers, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Freddie Kitchens ran some Wishbone formation, pulled off a few trick plays and had wide receiver Jarvis Landry throw passes.
Cleveland’s offense was unpredictable, imaginative and wide-open under Kitchens last season.
It will be again.
Kitchens said Monday he will continue to call plays as Browns coach despite hiring former Tampa Bay coordinator Todd Monken to oversee his offense next season.
Although he had little experience as a play-caller, Kitchens proved to be adept at reading defenses and designing plays during eight games as the team’s interim coordinator in 2018.
Monken, who guided the NFL’s top-ranked passing attack last season, called plays for the Buccaneers but agreed to surrender that role to work with Kitchens.
“I’m very impressed that Todd made that decision,” Kitchens said. “He showed an investment in me and showed an investment in what we’re trying to build and the vision where we’re taking this thing. He made a decision based on people. Our decisions here are going to be made on people.”
Since being hired by the Browns, Kitchens has been quickly assembling his staff, a chore he said “is the most important time for me as a head coach, it is the staff to build.”
Along with Monken, Kitchens hired former Arizona coach Steve Wilks as his defensive coordinator.
The 49-year-old Wilks was recently fired after going 3-13 in one season with the Cardinals. But he’s got a deep defensive background, spending 12 years as a secondary coach before becoming Carolina’s coordinator in 2017.
He succeeds Gregg Williams, who was not retained by Kitchens.
“When I see a guy that has a tremendous football acumen, is very diverse in his ability to use personnel, then why wait?” Kitchens said of hiring Wilks. “It is everything that I want, so we didn’t wait. And I like guys that strive to be great and I think that Steve does that. I also like guys that strive to have an environment of learning and strive to have an environment of listening, being together and being a part of a team.”
Mike Priefer will coach Cleveland’s special teams after eight years with Minnesota.
While his on-field coaching background is sound, Priefer was suspended by the Vikings in 2014 after an investigation into claims by former punter Chris Kluwe showed that Priefer made a homophobic remark during the 2012 season. Priefer later apologized and had his suspension reduced.
Browns general manager John Dorsey feels Priefer, who was born in Cleveland, has atoned for the misstep.
“My faith tells me everybody should have second chances,” Dorsey said. “I think Mike Priefer is a very qualified individual. He’s a United States Naval Academy graduate. I think his son is a United States Naval Academy graduate. I think he is an exceptional special teams coach. I think he’s paid his price. I think he’s excited as heck to be here.”
Kitchens also added Stump Mitchell (running backs), James Campen (offensive line), Ryan Lindley (quarterbacks), Jody Wright (special assistant) and Jim Dray and Tyler Tettleton (offensive quality control) to his staff.
Mitchell spent the past two seasons as the Jets running backs coach. He played nine seasons in the league.
Dray played tight end for the Browns from 2014-15.
© 2019, Newspaper Staff. All rights reserved.