The Browns team the Giants will face on Sunday has nine wins, is coming off a 42 point performance on Monday (albeit in a loss to the Raven), and seems bound for the postseason for the first time since 2002. It’s very un-Browns-like and a far different team than the underwhelming one just last year that went 6-10 and fired its first-year head coach at the conclusion of that season.
The person who recognizes those differences more than anyone is probably Freddie Kitchens, that head coach who got canned and now works for the Giants as their tight ends coach.
"First of all, I couldn’t be happier for the fans of Cleveland," Kitchens said on Tuesday. "They’ve waited a long time to have something like that to go to the games and cheer for. But there are no two teams that are ever the same. We say that every year. This team is playing very well. They’re very talented, they’ve always been very talented. They’re well-coached. They’re playing hard. They’re doing all of the things necessary to have a successful season."
Kitchens said he will try to add as much insight as he can to this week’s Giants gameplan based on his knowledge of the Browns players. While having a coach on staff who has that familiarity is not uncommon in the NFL, it’s certainly rare to have a team’s former head coach in the building to help with preparations. The Giants have had that opportunity once before this season with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett helping to prep the Giants for the game against the Cowboys.
Kitchens said there isn’t all that much he can say about the Browns that isn’t already fairly well known. On Baker Mayfield, he noted that the third-year quarterback is doing much better this season protecting the football. "When you take care of the football in this league you have a great chance to win and they’re doing that on a very consistent basis," he said.
On the other side of the ball he spoke about Myles Garrett, whom his tight ends will likely be called upon to help block. "Myles is one of the best football players in the National Football League," he said. "Three guys on Myles wouldn’t be enough."
As for his abrupt dismissal after just one season as head coach with the Browns and his role in the blockbuster trade between the two franchises that sent Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon to Cleveland with Jabrill peppers, Kevin Zeitler and a draft pick that became Dexter Lawrence to the Giants, Kitchens mostly declined to comment . . . although he did subtly suggest who he thinks might have gotten the better of the swap.
"I know I thoroughly enjoy being around these guys here," he said of his new team. "I’m glad we’ve got the guys we’ve got here. Hopefully that answers your question."