5 things to know about Freddie Kitchens
Here are five things to know about tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens, who will be calling the plays on offense for the Giants this Sunday after offensive coordinator Jason Garrett tested positive for COVID-19.
1. Kitchens spent the previous two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, who he initially joined as running backs coach/associate head coach on Jan. 24, 2018. He was promoted to offensive coordinator for the final eight games of the 2018 season and was the team's head coach in 2019. Under Kitchens, the Browns beat all three of their AFC North rivals (Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh) in the same season for the first time since the division came into existence in 2002.
Last season, Kitchen's offensive skill players were among the most productive in the NFL. With wide receivers Jarvis Landry (83 catches for 1,174 yards and six touchdowns) and Odell Beckham, Jr. (74 receptions for 1,035 yards and three scores), the Browns were one of six teams with two 1,000-yard receivers. In addition to the wide receivers' production, Nick Chubb finished second in the NFL with 1,494 rushing yards. Cleveland joined Carolina and Dallas as the only teams with two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher (Christian McCaffrey was both for the Panthers). Landry, Beckham and Chubb combined for 4,001 yards from scrimmage, the fourth-highest total by a trio of NFL teammates and the most by an AFC threesome in 2019.
In 2018, Kitchens took over as the Browns' offensive coordinator following Week 8 and helped the unit to a dramatic turnaround. During the second half of the season, the Browns finished among the league leaders in several categories including yards per game (fourth with 395.1), passing touchdowns (tied for fourth with 19) and total touchdowns (tied for sixth with 25). Cleveland surrendered just five sacks during the second half of the season - by far the lowest of any team in the league - compared to 33 in the first half. The Browns also scored touchdowns on 19 of 24 trips to the red zone en route to posting a 5-3 record in the season's second half.
2. Kitchens has had the opportunity to learn and coach with some of football's best and most successful coaches. He was a graduate assistant at LSU in 2000 under Nick Saban. Six years later, he broke into the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys under Bill Parcells, who won two Super Bowls with the Giants and is a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Kitchens was one of six assistants from that 2006 Cowboys staff who went on to become an NFL head coach, joining Anthony Lynn, Todd Haley, Tony Sparano, Mike Zimmer and Todd Bowles. Kitchens was also with the Arizona Cardinals from 2007-2017 before joining the Browns, which included five seasons working under Bruce Arians. Arians was twice named the AP NFL Coach of Year during his time with the Cardinals.
3. Prior to jumping to the NFL, Kitchens spent seven years coaching on the college level with stops at Mississippi State (2004-05), North Texas (2001-03), Louisiana State (2000) and Glenville State (1999).
Giants coach Joe Judge was with Kitchens for those two years at Mississippi State, as Judge was a senior on the team in 2004 before sticking around as a graduate assistant the following year.
4. Kitchens started at quarterback for the University of Alabama from 1995-1997, throwing for 4,668 yards and 30 touchdown passes. He finished his Crimson Tide career ranked third in school history in career attempts, fourth in career passing yards and fifth in career completions. Kitchens also played baseball at Alabama his freshman and senior seasons, but a pectoral injury forced him to miss his sophomore and junior campaigns.
5. Growing up in Gadsden, Alabama, Kitchens earned high school All-American honors and was named Mr. Football in the state of Alabama his senior season at Etowah High School.
Joe Judge back in February on the hire of Freddie Kitchens: "I think any position on offense is good for Freddie. He's got a lot of experience at different positions. He's been head coach, he's been a coordinator, he's been a position coach. He sees it through a lot of different perspectives. What I love about Freddie is he brings an element of toughness and discipline to his room. He brings outside the box thinking a lot of times to how he approaches the game from a game plan perspective. I think he'll be an asset to working with our offensive coaches and developing the game plan throughout the week. But ultimately, I've worked with Freddie, I've played for Freddie, and I've called against Freddie, and I understand what his players are about."
Kitchen's Coaching Career:
1999 Glenville State College - Offensive Assistant
2000 Louisiana State University - Graduate Assistant
2001-03 North Texas University - Running Backs
2004 Mississippi State University - Tight Ends
2005 Mississippi State University - Running Backs
2006 Dallas Cowboys - Tight Ends
2007-12 Arizona Cardinals - Tight Ends
2013-16 Arizona Cardinals - Quarterbacks
2017 Arizona Cardinals - Running Backs
2018 Cleveland Browns - Running Backs / Associate Head Coach (first 8 games) / Offensive Coordinator (final 8 games)
2019 Cleveland Browns - Head Coach
2020 New York Giants - Tight Ends
Jason Garrett tests positive for COVID-19; Freddie Kitchens to call plays vs. Browns
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced this morning, and he will not be in attendance when the Giants host the Cleveland Browns Sunday night in MetLife Stadium. Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens – who was the Browns' head coach in 2019 - will serve as the team's offensive play caller.
Garrett is continuing to work with the team remotely. The Giants said no one else in the organization was deemed a high-risk contact. Out of an abundance of caution, the Giants did not practice today.
"We did an early morning meeting through Zoom," coach Joe Judge said. "Really, we've been doing that on Thursdays anyways, so the morning for us was really the same. Instead of practicing this afternoon, what we'll do is we'll bring the players back into a Zoom meeting from 3 to 5:30, and we'll go ahead and get a jumpstart on tomorrow's install, along with some extra tape on the Browns. We're going to use this as a good mental day and prepare, make sure we get some good organizational work between units with communication. We'll take advantage of everything afforded to us, and we'll get back on the field tomorrow."
The game's original kickoff time was 1 p.m. Because it was moved back seven hours, the Giants will get some additional preparation time.
"Our plan right now is to kind of have a hybrid day tomorrow where it's a little bit mixed with a Thursday and a Friday of what we need to get on the field," Judge said. "Saturday morning, we'll make sure we come in, we'll be on the field for a walkthrough for about an hour. We'll kind of treat this the same way we would like the Philly game on Thursday night. Where we had walkthroughs throughout the week for about an hour at a time on the grass. What we'll be able to do is come in Saturday night at the hotel, review a little bit of tape. Have some night before meetings. On Sunday morning, because you have the extra time, we can do what we call the hotel walkthrough. That's offense walking through the play sheet. Defense walking through some adjustments, talking through some variables that may come up in the game. This game being flexed really gave us some extra time to really build in."
Which should benefit Kitchens, who called plays last season in Cleveland. He first worked with Judge at Mississippi State in 2005, when Judge was a graduate assistant at his alma mater and Kitchens was the running backs coach. Kitchens has coached in the NFL since 2006, Judge since 2012.
"I've worked with Freddie, I've worked against Freddie," Judge said. "He's a tremendous coach. Freddie has a great rapport with the players in the building. He really connects with people. I think Freddie is a very intelligent and very smart football coach. He does a great job of really identifying scheme. He's a tough, fundamental coach as well. I think you see from his players, they improve and they really respond to him on a personal level, which carries over to their performance on the field.
"In terms of Freddie calling plays this week, look, it's really been a cooperative effort throughout the season anyway with the offensive staff, along with the defensive staff. We all work together on the same page. We built in opportunities throughout training camp and practice periods this season where different coaches had to call plays just for this exact situation. This is something that we've been preparing for, as I explained to the players again this morning. Listen, starting in the spring when we started out on Zoom, this is nothing new to us and it's not unique. Missing a day of practice is not something unique in the league this year. It's something as business is being done, you just have to be able to make sure you don't lock your knees and keep on moving forward. Our guys have done very well through virtual learning. Jason was still very involved this morning in the Zoom meetings with the team, just as he would have been if he was in the building. We've stayed connected in terms of calling the plays. Freddie is more than capable. … I think Freddie's experience in this league of calling plays and coordinating an offense is something that fits into what we're doing right now."
View photos of MetLife Stadium following this week's snow storm.
CB James Bradberry placed on Reserve/COVID-19 list; will not play vs. Browns
Giants cornerback James Bradberry has been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Bradberry was placed on the list because he was deemed to be a high risk close contact of an individual who has tested positive. The contact did not occur at the Giants facility and the individual is not a member of the organization.
Bradberry will remain isolated from the team and continue to participate in meetings remotely. Given the timing of the close contact, Bradberry will miss Sunday night's game against Cleveland. If he continues to test negatively and has no symptoms, he would come off the reserve list on Monday.
View photos of cornerback James Bradberry in his first season with the Giants.
Crossfire: Facing Baker Mayfield vs. Kyler Murray
Check out the video below to watch the latest episode of Crossfire, which features weekly debates between Giants greats Carl Banks and Howard Cross and is hosted by Bob Papa.