CLEVELAND — Not a bad way to make your debut as a head coach in the National Football League.
Under the direction of first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens, the Cleveland Browns opened up preseason play with a 30-10 victory over the Washington football team at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Thursday night.
Here is what Kitchens had to say after the win.
Nothing to worry about
The Browns scored early and often, and in a variety of ways during their preseason opener against Washington.
Whether it was a touchdown pass from quarterback Baker Mayfield to wide receiver Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins on the first drive of the game, an interception return for a touchdown by rookie linebacker Mack Wilson or an 86-yard punt return from wide receiver Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, the Browns scored in all three phases on the way to the win.
And they did so without key starters in receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.
“I did not think it was worth the risk,” Kitchens said of benching Landry and Beckham Jr. “They have been trying to fight through a couple of minor things, nothing to write home about, per se. No reason.”
Glad they played
The Browns may have rested their starting wide receivers, but the first-team defense got a lift when linemen Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi suited up and played the first series.
“They wanted to play one series, and I am glad that they did,” Kitchens said. “Myles had a good pressure on the quarterback and made him throw the ball away.”
How fast is fast enough?
Garrett said after the annual Orange and Brown Scrimmage last Saturday that he dropped 10 pounds in an effort to get lighter and faster, and that effort has not gone unnoticed.
“I think him and Greg (Robinson) have been going at it all of training camp,” Kitchens said. “When he came off the ball today, yeah. I thought he was pretty quick last year, too. I don’t know how fast you have to be, but he is fast enough.”
Second-year kicker Greg Joseph appeared to have a “leg up” in the competition with rookie Austin Seibert, but after having a more consistent showing in the first two weeks of training camp, he struggled against Washington.
After Sheehy-Guiseppi returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown, Joseph was off the mark and clanged the kick off of the left upright.
“I don’t know yet about the hold,” Kitchens said. “I just know it did not go through the uprights, and I am looking for them to go through the uprights. I do not want any excuses. I just want the ball through the uprights.”
Browns rookie cornerback Greedy Williams atoned for an earlier miscue when he corralled an interception late in the first half.
On first-and-10 from the Cleveland 47-yard line, Washington rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. threw a pass down the right side of the field for tight end Matt Flanagan, but he was off the mark and Williams collected his first turnover of the preseason.
Williams had a four-yard return after the interception and enjoyed a jog down the field to celebrate with teammates and fans alike.
“I have told you guys before about the front windshield and the rearview mirror,” Kitchens said. “You are just playing the next play. I do not care what happened the play before, and I do no care what happens the next play.
“I just want you to play the current play, and he did a good job of that. He should have been in the deep third on the one where they ran right by him, but what he did was he played the next play and he got a pick.”