Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens dismissed criticism from former offensive line coach Bob Wylie, telling reporters on Monday, “Bob doesn’t wear brown and orange anymore.”
“I had the opportunity to hire Bob,” Kitchens added. “I didn’t want to.”
Wylie, a fan favorite on HBO’s Hard Knocks last August whose contract wasn’t renewed by Kitchens in January, said Saturday on CBS Sports Radio he was shocked when Kitchens was named head coach. Wylie also credited former quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, and not Kitchens, for the Browns’ offensive turnaround in the second half of 2018.
“Baker (Mayfield) likes Freddie,” Wylie said on The Zach Gelb Show. “There’s a good relationship there even though Kenny Zampese did all the coaching there. Baker likes Freddie, so that had to (factor) into the decision.
“Freddie didn’t have any coordinator experience or head-coaching experience.”
Kitchens said Monday he’s not concerned about which coach deserves the credit for 2018’s success, when the Browns went 5-2 to close the season, but rather that the players get recognized.
“I know what happened, he knows what happened, the staff knows what happened,” Kitchens said. .”.. I don’t care what he says about me. I can take it. But the players turned it around.”
Wylie also said he found out he wouldn’t be retained by Kitchens from his daughter while he was in the hospital, recovering from a serious ankle and knee injury sustained in December.
“My daughter called me and said, ‘Hey, dad, you just got fired today,’” Wylie said. “That’s the first time I heard about it. I was laying in a hospital bed. They packed up my office and they put my office in storage because I was still in the hospital.”
Kitchens told reporters that Wylie wasn’t fired, noting his contract had expired, and added that the 68-year-old Wylie had “talked about retiring forever.” Kitchens also said he visited Wylie weekly in the hospital and FaceTimed with the coach before the games Wylie missed in December.
“Sometimes, when a person says something, they have to be made to feel relevant,” Kitchens said. “Bob’s a good person, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.”
A first-year head coach, Kitchens also praised his staff as a group that “will stay together no matter what” and “pull in the same direction” moving forward. And for anyone who isn’t on board and considers leaking information, he issued a warning.
“The days of inside information and the days of unnamed sources, stuff like that, have ended,” Kitchens said. “So you’re not going to get any information like that ever. Anybody. And if I ever see it, they’re fired, immediately. That’s the way we’re running this organization.
“And I can take it. (General manager) John Dorsey can take it. I promise you.”
—Field Level Media