Browns fire Freddie Kitchens, but Jimmy Haslam is why they’ll never win

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns may have fired another head coach in Freddie Kitchens, but the reason they’re the biggest joke in the NFL is their owner Jimmy Haslam.

Another year, another season where the Cleveland Browns disappointed.

Since coming back into the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1999, all the Browns have done is be the NFL’s biggest embarrassment of the last two decades.

There is a generation of Ohioans and Clevelanders who only know the Browns as the most dysfunctional franchise in football. If you want to understand why the Browns suck, look no further than the man in charge who runs through head coaches like Larry King does wives in majority owner Jimmy Haslam.

After losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that went 2-14 and locked up the No. 1 overall pick in 2020’s NFL Draft last week, Haslam decided he had enough of Freddie Kitchens as his head coach after a 6-10 season.

Since buying the franchise from Randy Lerner in 2012, Haslam has fired five full-time head coaches and did not keep the only one with a winning record over that stretch. That guy was last year’s interim head coach Gregg Williams, who went 5-3 after Hue Jackson was let go. Haslam shouldn’t be allowed to hire any more head coaches. He’s festering garbage at it.

If you want to know how well he conducts business, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Kitchens was fired over the phone after Kitchens believed he had organizational support. Even though Kitchens was overmatched as an NFL head coach, he deserved to be fired in-person by the man who hired him.

Cleveland is now the third franchise looking for a new head coach this offseason, joining the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers.

Let’s do some math explaining how atrocious Haslam is at hiring head coaches. In his eight years as owner, Haslam has fired the No. 13 coach in franchise history, the No. 14 coach in franchise history, the No. 15 coach in franchise history, the No. 16 head coach in franchise history, didn’t remove the interim tag from Williams and then fired the No. 17 coach in franchise history.

No coach under Haslam has led his team for more than 40 games. That guy was head coach No. 16 in franchise history in Hue Jackson and he went 3-36-1 from 2016-18. He won 8.8 percent of his games!

Under Haslam’s watch, head coaches average 21.3 games on the job. This means, yes, you’re probably going to get a year, but if you don’t dominate in September in year two, you will have to remove your kids from a Northeast Ohio private school by the end of the fall semester.

Since 2012, the Browns have gone 33-94-1, meaning they win 26.2 percent of their games. That’s around what the worst team in the NBA has as a winning percentage in a given calendar year.

Kitchens leaves Cleveland with a .375 winning percentage, the same mark Romeo Crennel had posted over a decade before him. The last time the Browns reached the playoffs in 2002, head coach Butch Davis was in charge of a borderline expansion team. The last time Cleveland won a playoff game, Bill Belichick did so in 1994, two years before they became the Baltimore Ravens.

And if we want to get even pettier, the last time the Browns had a head coach who left Cleveland with a winning record that wasn’t an interim, that was Marty Schottenheimer back in 1988. He went 44-27 in 71 regular-season games and 2-4 in the playoffs. The Browns played in the AFC Central then.

So let’s not pile on Kitchens for being an abject failure; he was doomed from the start. Haslam should have hired someone like Mike McCarthy last year when he had the chance. Hell, had he kept Williams and removed the interim tag, maybe Cleveland’s season wouldn’t have ended on Dec. 29? They could have started the new year off right with a playoff game.

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