Kitchens to let OC Todd Monken call some plays tonight


The preseason finale isn't just for end-of-the-roster players to make the case for a 2019 job, it's also a chance for the coaching staff to tinker with their plots.

Several head coaches who call plays will give their assistants chances to dip their toes in the water. It's especially helpful for young coaches to get the chance to call plays in live-action to help raise their career potential.

One example is Freddie Kitchens. Ex-Browns coach Hue Jackson allowed Kitchens, then the RBs coach, to call plays in the final preseason game last season. That experience gave general manager John Dorsey confidence that Kitchens could handle being elevated to OC last year, which provided the opportunity to become head coach in 2019.

Similarly, Kitchens will hand some of the duties to OC Todd Monken in tonight's preseason finale versus the Detroit Lions (playing for the famous and bigly important Great Lakes Freighter Trophy).

In fact, Kitchens said he's already allowed Monken to call plays over the course of the preseason.

"I haven't really fully decided, but I know Todd will call some of them," Kitchens said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Some of it depends on what we do at the quarterback situation initially, but he'll definitely get the opportunity. He called some of the other games but we just didn't advertise it. Just didn't feel the need to. In case it went bad, I didn't want him suffering the consequences from it...but we'll do something. I always want to continue to let guys develop in this system, more importantly, just in case. You know, you never know."

Unlike some green play-callers who will take over tonight, Monken has experience, helping lead an explosive Tampa Bay offense early last year before play-calling was taken over by embattled Bucs coach Dirk Koetter. Still, giving Monken the majority of calls will allow him to further mesh his tendencies to Kitchens' so the two can develop rapport as the season presses forward.

It's telling that Kitchens wanted to protect Monken from any criticism previously but is comfortable allowing the world to know his plans for Thursday.

If it goes well for the OC, he could become a hot head coaching candidate when the cycle begins anew next year. Kitchens said he used his experience a year ago for that purpose.

"I was going to prepare just like it was my role and I was hoping someone else would see it because I'd never gotten the opportunity anywhere else," Kitchens said. "I was glad for the opportunity, and I was definitely treating it as an interview for other teams -- not necessarily here."

Not necessarily in Cleveland, but that is where Kitchens sits, and with sky-high expectations. If the Browns offense lives up to the hype, Kitchens could be searching for Monken's replacement come 2020.