In its never-ending quest to sell more and more merchandise, the NFL routinely unveils new sideline gear for coaches to wear. In early December, just as the Christmas shopping season began, the league put its coaches in sweatshirts bearing the clunky array of local slogans (some good, some not so good).
For Cleveland, the phrase of choice was “Dawg Pound.” And it has become offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens’ sweatshirt of choice, long after the broader program came and went.
“I know I am from Alabama,” Kitchens told reporters on Thursday, “but I loved the Dawg Pound ever since back in the mid-80s when Bernie [Kosar] was playing and things like that and, I do not mean to bring this up, but when the Broncos and all came in town and the playoff games and stuff.”
Kitchens wisely changed the subject from still-aching scars for 30 years ago.
“I really loved the Dawg Pound, but I like the sweatshirt,” he said. “My daughters like the sweatshirt, and honestly, that is the reason why I wear it is because my daughters like the sweatshirt.”
More and more people think Kitchens should wear the sweatshirt next year, given his work with rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. But if Kitchens stays as offensive coordinator, he could soon get a head-coaching gig of his own somewhere else, which wouldn’t help the Browns.
So maybe the smart play for Cleveland, if the goal becomes to ensure continuity, would be to simply make Kitchens the head coach, and to give him a shot at redemption for the days “when the Broncos and all came in town and the playoff games and stuff.”
Actually, the smartest play for Cleveland would be to open the job up for the best possible coach — and many great ones will be interested — with the goal of getting the team not just to the playoffs next year but all the way to the Super Bowl. If the Browns make the right hire, they can.