People vs. Charles Frederick Kitchens Jr.
Trial Day: 9/8 – 12/29
Cleveland Municipal Courthouse
…Judge Haslam: Thank you, sir. The defense will now be given the floor.
Bailiff Dorsey: Order!
Defense: Thank you, your honor. If it may please the court, seeing as it’s not pleasing many in the gallery.
(continued murmuring. Occasional boos)
Judge Haslam: You may continue.
Defense: We stand here on the cusp of week 15, and this trial already seems to be all but decided. There are those who scream for the removal of coach Kitchens, caught up in a heap of hysteria, one brought on by the emotional rollercoaster that is the 2019 season. Should we buy into what this group says, these champions of unrealized expectations? Or should we rely on reason, objectivity, and perspective to try and make sense out of a picture warped into abstraction?
Who is Freddie Kitchens? Is he a man that has spent decades mastering the discipline of team management in the NFL? Is he old and grey with rings dotting every knuckle and a bust down the road in Canton? Of course, he isn’t, that was not the man that was chosen to be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Instead, the brass in Berea decided to invest in a mind that has excelled as a positions coach in multiple professional organizations, a man who has coached quarterbacks to Superbowl appearances, but an assistant coach nonetheless.
It is imperative that we understand this as we move forward. Coach Kitchens is an investment. With only eight games as a brilliant interim offensive coordinator, he has always been viewed as a work in progress. And what will his greatest detractors claim against him? They will say that he has difficulty managing a game. That he struggles to install discipline in his players. All functions of a head coach. All things that Mr. Kitchens lacks experience in.
But what else do we know about the man from Gadsden, Alabama? We know that he is currently operating a coaching staff pieced together by himself and his general manager, one filled with shotgun marriages and conflicting offensive ideologies. Are we truly asking this man to immediately overcome these differences in strategy? And his obstacles hardly end there. Kitchens is a man attempting to install a new system that operates behind an atrocious offensive line, one that has resembled more of a game of musical chairs than a respectable front. How can we possibly expect a clean transition when the quarterback has so little to work with? I mean, who put this disgrace together anyway?
Bailiff Dorsey: (Clears throat)
Defense: Think about the injuries this team has had to endure in these previous 13 outings. The loss of both starting cornerbacks for multiple games, the dismissal of a safety, a loss at tight end, the indefinite suspension of the team’s All-Pro edge rusher, and so on. This is a man forced to adapt at a furious pace, climbing a backbreaking slope of off the field distractions, controversies, and the crushing weight of expectation.
But out of all these questions, there is one that I would like you to ask yourself above any other, but before you do, think hard about the preseason excitement surrounding the team. Consider the so-called ‘hype’ that had accumulated in the media. Now reflect on this: where would our expectations have been had Odell Beckham Jr. not been traded to the Cleveland Browns. Would we have been predicting 10, 11, 12, or even 13 wins? Would we have expected this first-year coach to do what none have done in decades? Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, it’s time to face the facts. Expectations were altered dramatically based on the acquisition of one talented wide receiver. Do you find this fair? Do you find this reasonable, objective, or a well-contemplated perspective? Now consider this: there is a possibility that this same individual has been playing hurt for the entirety of the season. If we were to change our expectations based on him being a functioning member of the team, should we also alter it when the same player proves to be less functional?
We are truly dealing with a crisis of misunderstanding. A first-year coach is a first-year coach. There will be problems that need ironing out, processes that require fine-tuning, an adjustment in the coaching staff. All these can only be accomplished in time. It is a resource this franchise has given out sparingly since their return from hiatus. One coach fails, then another, then another. One could claim that the source of wind in downtown is caused less by the Lake and more by the Browns’ ever-revolving door, ushering coaches in and out without end. We must practice patience in a way that we have not in our past and allow this man his period of growth. We have made the investment, now it will be up to us to hold on long enough to see it through. If we continue to terminate our head coaches, we will continue to start from scratch, year after year. It is time for continuity, it is time for progress. More than anything, it is time to support Freddie Kitchens.
The defense rests, your honor
Judge Haslam: Thank you, ma’am. The jury will now break to consider their verdict…