There are plenty of factors about the Cleveland Browns we know heading into the 2019 season. We know Baker Mayfield is on the rise. We know Odell Beckham Jr. is a singular dynamic threat. We know Myles Garrett can pester the quarterback. We know Nick Chubb will break tackles. We know Denzel Ward is a lock-down corner when healthy.
The fairest question to ask about the current iteration of the Browns isn't about talent or players in the locker room. Rather the most reasonable question is how a first-time head coach, who was only ever an offensive coordinator for half of a single season, will handle a brisk ascent to a head coaching job.
General manager John Dorsey, speaking to NBC's Peter King over the weekend for his *Football Morning In America *column, believes Freddie Kitchens owns the demeanor to handle the soaring expectations.
"From a planning standpoint," Dorsey told King, "you want to surround a first-year head coach with quality coaches at all levels. I think we've done that. Surround him with a strong coaching staff [veteran offensive coordinator Todd Monken, ex-head coach Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator]. And remember: This head coach is very direct, very honest. He's going to tell it like it is, and he'll tell Odell like it is. He will hold players accountable. He'll let players express themselves, as he should do.
"We really like Odell. He's passionate. He's competitive. He wants to be great. You can't have enough of those guys. He's on time. Everything you hear is he's a great teammate. We're thrilled to have him."
Kitchens entered the national football conscious this fall with a creative offense that unleashed the best of Mayfield on unsuspecting defenses. The truth, however, comes with the caveat that Kitchens' offense was a completely blank slate last season, with no film for defensive coaches to pick over and build a list of tendencies. That advantage can win in the short term. Can it survive in the long term is a question Kitchens must answer in 2019.
Buffering the first-year head coach with experienced coordinators in Monken and Wilks provides Kitchens with proven assistants to help steer the ship. The green head coach, however, also owns a blunt, honest personality that players tend to respond well to.
The Browns' locker room getting along is largely a player matter, led by Mayfield. But it's clear that Dorsey isn't worried about Kitchens' ability to poke his head in and make sure everything is kosher when needed.