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Former Cleveland Browns assistant: Freddie Kitchens not responsible for Baker Mayfield’s success in 2018

Former offensive line coach Bob Wylie believes Freddie Kitchens wasn't as responsible for Baker Mayfield's success in 2018 as he has been credited with.
Credit: Matt Florjancic, WKYC Digital Sports
Cleveland Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie goes over a teaching point in a drill during the final day of training camp in Berea Tuesday.

CLEVELAND — Be it a magic trick, cracking a joke when someone asks him how he’s doing or discussing his coaching career in the Canadian Football League, former Cleveland Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie has a knack for getting people to talk.

Well, Wylie is getting people talking once again, and it has to do with his recent comments on an interview with The Zach Gelb Show on CBS Sports Radio, as the veteran NFL coach said Freddie Kitchens was getting way too much credit for Baker Mayfield’s success in 2018.

“Baker likes Freddie,” Wylie said. “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.”

Credit: Matt Florjancic
Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens and QB Baker Mayfield await additional players in training-camp practice in Berea on Thursday, August 1, 2019.

RELATED: Freddie Kitchens: I like this team we’re building with Cleveland Browns

Kitchens took over the play-calling duties on Monday, October 29, just hours after the organization made the unprecedented move to fire both head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley with eight games remaining on the schedule.

Under Kitchens’ direction, Mayfield completed 180 of his 263 attempts (68.4 percent) for 2,254 yards and 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Mayfield averaged 281.75 yards and 2.375 touchdowns per game with Kitchens calling the plays.

Used sparingly by Haley over the first half of the 2018 season, running back Nick Chubb rushed for 788 of his 996 yards and five of his eight touchdowns on 140 carries under Kitchens. After the changes in the coaching staff, Chubb averaged 5.63 yards per carry and became a contributing member in the passing game as well.

Not known for having great catching ability out of the backfield, Chubb turned 18 catches into 139 yards and two touchdowns over the second half of the 2018 season.

Credit: Matt Florjancic
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield leads a huddle after getting a play from coach Freddie Kitchens at practice in Berea on Thursday, August 1, 2019.

RELATED: Watch Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield shotgun a beer at Indians game

Because of their performances over the second half of the season, both Mayfield and Chubb were Pro Bowl alternates and finalists for the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

In addition to saying that Coach Zampese was for directly responsible for Mayfield’s growth and development, Wylie expressed the belief that interim coach Gregg Williams did not get fair consideration for the job.

At 2-5-1 following a 33-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 28 and in the middle of an unprecedented midseason coaching staff upheaval, the 2018 Browns looked to be anything but a team capable of the greatest year-to-year turnaround in franchise history.

Credit: Matt Florjancic
Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens talks with quarterback Baker Mayfield during a drill in a training-camp practice in Berea on July 28, 2019.

RELATED: Watch: Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield signs autographs for kids after Orange and Brown Scrimmage

But a 5-3 record over the second half of the season and a three-game winning streak in December secured the Browns’ greatest turnaround in team history, as they finished plus-7.5 in victories over last year’s winless campaign.

Also, with a 26-18 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 23, the Browns finished off their first regular-season sweep of an AFC North Division opponent since 2002.

“My own personal feeling is Gregg was too strong a candidate for the seat,” Wylie proclaimed. “I don’t think [John] Dorsey wanted to go head-to-head with Williams like he had to do with Andy Reid in Kansas City, so he kind of filtered Gregg out of the picture.”