BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens has Baker Mayfield’s back.
In a big way.
Kitchens said Thursday he has no problem with any of Mayfield’s recent statements about former coach Hue Jackson, including an Instagram response when Mayfield called Jackson “fake.”
Mayfield: No regrets over calling Jackson ‘fake’
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said Wednesday that he has no regrets over calling former coach Hue Jackson “fake” and added that he’s not looking for the approval of anyone who questions his maturity.
“I promise you this: Baker’s not going to blow smoke up anybody’s ass,” Kitchens said Thursday as the Browns prepared to face the Texans in Houston on Sunday. “So if he said it, that’s what he feels. And I’m standing behind Baker Mayfield.”
Mayfield did not detail what he meant except to say there were things that happened in the building that led him to use the word.
Kitchens was just as adamant about Mayfield’s postgame comments in Cincinnati when Mayfield said he did not appreciate his former coach taking a job with a rival so soon after being fired by Cleveland.
“I don’t have a problem with Baker saying anything like that,” Kitchens said. “The guy spoke what he felt to be true. I don’t know when it became big news to speak the truth, OK? And if that’s what he feels then he should voice it.
“Hard Knocks is in here and everybody is looking for a story. Well, he’s giving you a story. He’s telling you the truth. Everybody wants an inside look and the truth. Well hell, that’s the truth.
“We go down to Cincinnati and one of the biggest wins … I know there’s people in that locker room that have never gotten on a plane to come back here on a road game with a victory. So they didn’t know that feeling until then.
“Suddenly it’s big news if we don’t want to turn it into a Kumbaya after the game and turn it into fist bumps and hugs. I don’t think Baker disrespected anybody in what he said. He spoke what he felt.”
Kitchens said he can see the Browns coming together, and that words are irrelevant.
“At some point, everybody’s going to realize it doesn’t matter what anybody else says,” Kitchens said. “It doesn’t matter what anybody says in Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, nowhere. It’s about what’s said in here. And more importantly it’s about our fans, our organization and our locker room most important.
“It’s about what those guys in there feel, and when they start believing that, which they do, then you have something.”
Mayfield’s teammates did not want to be drawn into a discussion about Mayfield’s words. To Kitchens, it’s fundamental.
“Ultimately it’s about winning,” Kitchens said. “When you start winning people want to find other stories. I’ve told you guys this in the spring: Players chase stats and media chases controversy, because both of them equal money. It’s about how many hits you get on the internet; it’s about how many viewers you have.
“Ultimately if we can stay together in the locker room or not let anything like (stats) divide us or any Instagrams or anything like that divide us, we’re going to be fine.”
Kitchens also said that he told running back Nick Chubb he could call the plays in Houston if Georgia beats Alabama in the SEC championship game. Chubb played at Georgia, Kitchens at Alabama, and Wednesday Chubb told the NFL Network about the fun arrangement.
“That’s because he (Kitchens) has no belief we’ll win,” Chubb said.
“I changed a play today to Roll Tide; he wouldn’t even run the play, so I don’t know,” Kitchens said of Chubb. “I had to come up with something; he wouldn’t even bet me anything.”