Kitchens poised to land Browns job & Denver turn to Fangio
Freddie Kitchens is poised to be hired by the Cleveland Browns as their permanent head coach, while the Denver Broncos are set to turn to Vic Fangio.
Both teams ended their coaching searches on Wednesday and official announcements will follow, according to ESPN and NFL.com.
Kitchens, 44, will be promoted from the offensive coordinator position he only took on midway through the season. In the eight games after coach Hue Jackson and OC Todd Haley were fired, he was responsible for the impressive improvement of number one overall pick and quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Under Kitchens, Mayfield went 5-3, completing 68.4 per cent of his passes with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
It is a stark difference from Mayfield's games under Haley, in which he was 1-4 as a starter and completed 58.3 percent with eight touchdowns and six interceptions, while being sacked 20 times.
Because of the Browns' improved performance in the second half of the season, they finished 7-8-1, their best record since 2007.
Kitchens was one of several candidates to interview for the job, including the Minnesota Vikings' interim OC Kevin Stefanski, Saints assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell and former Detroit Lions boss Jim Caldwell.
The hiring makes him the ninth full-time coach with the Browns since 1999 and 11th including temporary appointments.
Interim head coach and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was also interviewed, has reportedly been relieved of his duties.
Denver, meanwhile, have struck a deal with Fangio, giving the 60-year-old his first NFL head coaching job. With the Chicago Bears, he was the architect of the NFL's number one defense for points allowed in 2018.
He served in that role from 2015 and was previously defensive coordinator for four other teams.
Vic Fangio now gets to run the Broncos' team and defense; Gary Kubiak gets to run the offense. Fangio and Kubiak now lead the way.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 9, 2019
Broncos general manager John Elway also considered Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak as a candidate for the vacant position.
They fired Vance Joseph after he posted 5-11 and 6-10 records in his two seasons at the helm, making it the first time in 46 years the Broncos have had back-to-back losing years.