NFL Head Coaching Hires: Browns Give Freddie Kitchens The Reins

Moments after Black Monday’s bloodbath comes a sea of interviews for open coaching positions. Many observers thought New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be a coveted candidate. But he declined to interview with Cincinnati and the only team he did interview with, Green Bay, went in a different direction (see below). With the first hirings coming to light, expect the other jobs to get filled quickly as teams want the secure the services form a decreasing pool of options. We bring you the latest…

Note: This post will be updated as head coaching jobs become finalized. Stay tuned!

Browns shock with hire of Freddie Kitchens

Kitchens was named the offensive coordinator midseason after the Browns fired head coach Hue Jackson. In those eight games, the Browns offense turned around and averaged more than 395 yards per game. When Kitchens took over the play-calling rookie Baker Mayfield had just 8 touchdown passes, Mayfield finished the season energized with 27 total touchdowns. Kitchens does have more than a decade of experience in the NFL. He first started as a tight ends coach with the Cowboys in 2006 and coached in various positions with the Cardinals from 2007-2017  before making the move to Cleveland in 2018.

Our take: Kitchens has an established relationship with Mayfield and turned around offense in the latter part of the season with the Browns. The hire is risky, with Kitchens’ lack of experience, but Cleveland could reap big rewards.

Broncos hiring Bears former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio

Fangio led the Bears defense to the top of the NFL ranks and helped Chicago make it to the playoffs. Fangio has plenty of experience in the league making stops in Carolina, Indianapolis, Houston, San Francisco and Chicago as a defensive coordinator. With Fangio as the DC in Chicago since 2015, this year the Bears defense came together and paced the league in takeaways (36), rushing yards allowed (80.0) and points per game (17.7).

Our take: Fangio has been a defensive mastermind, always elements the play of his roster, even those who are not bonafide stars.  Now just to get him a QB, Elway!

Cardinals finalizing a deal with Kliff Kingsbury

Peter Schrager of FOX Sports is reporting the Cardinals and Kliff Kingsbury are finalizing a deal. Kingsbury, who was fired by Texas Tech six seasons, was hired as the offensive coordinator for USC last month. He was thought to have been blocked from seeking other coaching positions, but USC shifted its position.

During his six seasons at Texas Tech Kingsbury went 35-40 and coached Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes, and Davis Webb.

Our take: The Cardinals need a QB whisperer for Josh Rosen and Kingsbury is considered elite in that department.

Packers expected to hire Titans OC Matt LaFleur

ESPN sources report the Packers are moving to hire Matt LaFleur. According to the sources, LaFleur agreed to a four-year contract with an option for a fifth year and will be introduced by the team on Wednesday. Before his time with the Titans, LaFleur worked under Sean McVay for the Los Angeles Rams and Kyle Shanahan for the Atlanta Falcons.

LaFleur has a good track record with QBs, Jared Goff with the Rams and Matt Ryan with the Falcons, and the team seems hopeful he can work with Aaron Rodgers to bring another Super Bowl ring to Wisconsin.

Our take: LeFleur showed that he would be a better fit with Rodgers than McDaniels or any other candidates. That’s all that matters for Green bay at this point.

Tampa Bay looks to hire Bruce Arians

Tampa Bay tweeted Saturday that they interviewed former Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows Arians from his Arizona days. The former Cardinals coach, who retired in 2017, previously said he would only consider coaching in the NFL if he were to coach the Browns. Arians was 49-30 in five seasons, including two playoff appearances and a trip to the NFL title game in 2015.

Our take: Awesome fit. If anyone can fix Jameis Winston, it’s Arians. If he can bring in Todd Bowles as his defensive coordinator, the Bucs have the best possible situation.