Head Coach Freddie Kitchens and general manager John Dorsey worked feverishly to find the right assistants for this “new attitude” Browns. Even though the hires were sudden, they were no less deliberate. Kitchens found coaches who embody his “if-you’re-not-with-us-you’re-against-us” attitude. These coaches have chips on their shoulders for various reasons, but they all know one thing: the potential on this team makes the Browns the hottest jobs to land in the NFL.
Discipline was the biggest issue of the Browns’ special teams woes. New special teams coach Mike Priefer, a former naval officer, feels like he can correct this. He has the statistics to back it up. As the special teams coach of the Minnesota Vikings, special teams was the least penalized team in the NFL in 2017 and 2018. He also has a penchant for working with kickers. Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh became an All-Pro in his rookie season under Priefer’s tutelage. Priefer believes that Browns kicker Greg Joseph has mechanical issues that can be corrected to match his NFL-strength leg. If discipline is truly the missing piece, expect the Browns to move up the rankings from one of the bottom special teams in the league.
Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken previously stated he wanted to come to the Browns because of the potential in quarterback Baker Mayfield. Monken was a casualty of the turnover in Tampa Bay, but he likes the direction of this team. He knew coming in that Kitchens was going to remain heavily involved with the offense. Titles and egos were not his motivation to come to the Browns, winning was.
Seemingly, the coordinator with the biggest chip on his shoulder is Steve Wilks. The former head coach of the Arizona Cardinals was released –rather unceremoniously– at the end of last season after a 3-13 season. Starting rookie quarterback Josh Rosen and inheriting a middling defense (20th overall in 2018) are both enough to test and coach’s mettle. Many among his former players and colleagues feel that Wilks should have been given a longer leash; however, it is apparent that owner Bill Bidwell and general manager Steve Keim wanted to go with a “quarterback whisperer” in former Texas Tech head coach and ingenue Kliff Kingsbury. Hopefully, the Cardinals’ loss will be the Browns’ gain. Wilks is excited to develop young stars like Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, and Jabrill Peppers. Wilks did not reveal his hand, per se, but spoke to being versatile. With Peppers in particular, Wilks mentioned he could use the defensive back closer to his role at Michigan as a hybrid linebacker-defensive back.
As ClevelandBrowns.com senior writer and co-host of “Cleveland Browns Daily” on the Cleveland Browns Radio Network, Andrew Gribble, stated, the unifying theme among these assistant coaches are “football men”. He stressed the term on both nouns. They are students and teachers of the game. They are no-nonsense, but appreciate football still being fun. He went on to say they are all “leaders of men”. They all have strong personalities, full visions, and confidence in their systems and players.
All these coaches are deliberate in their styles, echoing the vision of their new head coach and general manager. These “New Browns” seem to have focus, vision, and determination, all coming top-down –a refreshing change Browns fans are excited to embrace.