How important was it for the Cleveland Browns to find the right person to mentor rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield during their coaching search?
Well, important enough for Mayfield to be brought in during the process.
Shortly after Freddie Kitchens emerged as the next head coach Wednesday, ESPN quoted a source with knowledge of the interviews that “Mayfield’s presence was important in the hiring process. The Browns view him as the future, to the point that they FaceTimed him into interviews.”
Kitchens, whom several NFL teams requested interviews with to fill offensive coordinator openings, helped the Browns increase their points per game and got solid play out of Mayfield, who, along with teammate Nick Chubb, is one of five candidates up for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.
Prior to the dismissals of coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, the Browns averaged 21.125 points per game on offense, but were outscored by more than five points per outing. Once Kitchens took over the play-calling duties, the Browns showed improvement in points per game scored. The Browns averaged 23.75 points per game with Kitchens calling the plays, up more than 2.5 points.
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.
In addition to Mayfield’s successes, Kitchens got plenty of production out of the running game with Chubb as the feature back.
Used sparingly by Haley over the first half of the 2018 season, Chubb rushed for 788 of his season total of 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.