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Something Cooking With Kitchens?

Arizona Cardinals 2007 Headshots Photo by Getty Images

Could the Browns’ recently appointed OC Freddie Kitchens be on the Cardinals’ short list of HC candidates, if they choose to turn the keys back over to an offensive minded head coach?

In many ways, Freddie Kitchens would seem like a popular choice for Michael Bidwill, primarily because Kitchens was on Wiz’s (Super Bowl) and BA’s (NFC Championship Game) staffs—-thus he was an integral part of the Cardinals’ best years in Arizona—-and he was well liked.

Kitchens has the kind of quick wit and charisma that would engage the players and the media. Plus, he’s become quite a QB whisperer. One would imagine that he would keep Byron Leftwich as OC (although Kitchens would do the majority of the play calling), WRC Kevin Garver and OLC Ray Brown. It would be great if he could persuade RBC Stump Mitchell to return. Stump was outstanding with David Johnson.

When Kitchens left in January to become the Browns’ running backs coach, he wrote a lengthy, heart-felt thank you note to the Bidwills, the Cardinals, the players and the fans. Clearly, Kitchens wanted everyone to know his fondness and appreciation for the organization and he wished to keep his bridge to the Cardinals strong and sturdy.

Kitchens’ recent work with QB Baker Mayfield has been impressive—-not only from a production standpoint, but from a support system standpoint. Kitchens has adapted the Browns’ offense to Mayfield’s strengths—-and, most importantly, has embraced Mayfield’s ”pull no punches, tell it like it is” personality.

After Mayfield’s 3 interceptions in a loss to the Texans last week which marred an otherwise productive 300+ yard passing performance, Kitchens said, “When interceptions happen, sometimes it is bad decisions by the quarterback, sometimes it is pressure happening more than it should, sometimes it is guys not being in the right spot, sometimes it is a bad play call and sometimes it is a combination of everything, I think that is sort of what happened the other day. This did not all fall on Baker. I think we have to do a better job of being where we are supposed to be. I think we have to continue to do a good job of protecting. I think we need to just execute in general from every position.”

One of the main reasons why Mayfield has started to flourish since Kitchens took over is the marked improvement the Browns have been making in pass protection. According to a recent PFF media release: “Over the last three games – a period during which the Browns have allowed zero total sacks – Mayfield has faced pressure on 22.3 percent of his dropbacks, the lowest rate in the NFL. During this same period, the Browns interior offensive line of Joel Bitonio, JC Tretter, and Kevin Zeitler have allowed only five pressures in 309 combined pass-blocking snaps.”

NFL Films recently released a video that highlights the improvements that Kitchens has made with the Browns’ offense: (a worthy viewing)

Bruce Arians has been expressing avid interest in the Browns’ job and has said he wants to keep Kitchens as the OC—-but—-BA, as always, would call most of the plays—-and—-how could Kitchens stay on as BA’s OC and turn down a head coaching opportunity with an organization he knows very well and is very high on?

Essentially, Kitchens would assume BA’s head coach/play caller role in Arizona.

One would imagine that Steve Keim would be in favor of hiring Freddie Kitchens—-but maybe Michael Bidwill will want a clean slate and hire Eliot Wolf (currently the Browns’ assistant GM) as the Cardinals’ GM. Clearly, Wolf is getting a day by day insider’s view of Kitchens’ coaching prowess.

Imagine too what a coup it could be for the Cardinals to bring back Todd Bowles as the defensive coordinator.

Something might be cooking with Kitchens in Arizona.

And—-over the next few weeks—-it may start to smell delicious.