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Freddie Kitchens: Browns will ignore expectations

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From Freddie Kitchens in Cleveland to Adam Gase with the Jets, Chris Simms and Liam McHugh break down every new coaching situation and whether they will meet expectations in their first season.

A strong finish to the 2018 season plus the all-in acquisitions of receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and running back Kareem Hunt have saddled the Cleveland Browns with high expectations, for the first time in a very long time. Coach Freddie Kitchens, the man who’ll take the brunt of the blame if the Browns fail to live up to those expectations, tried to downplay them on Monday, the start of the team’s offseason program.

“Like I said, our expectations have nothing to do with the outside world,” Kitchens told reporters. “Our expectations are set in our room, in our team room. Our expectations are going to be on how we prepare every day and approach every day from a business perspective and on what we want to get accomplished on each day on a day-in and day-out basis. The outside predictions, we are not in that business. We are going to let other people do that. We are just going to be happy with our performance and how we prepare.

“When you start talking about expectations, if a team is supposed to be not very good, then the expectation level is low so the first thing a coach wants to go in and say is that you have to block out the noise from outside. Well, what the hell changes if you are supposed to be good? You still block out the noise from the outside so that is what we are going to do. No pun intended, but nobody else matters except for the people in the room. Those are the only ones that matter and those are the only ones that can affect anything that we do as far as winning and losing. This is ultimately about winning and losing.”

It’s also about winning and losing as a team, not as individuals.

“One thing that you have to realize -- I think we have put together a lot of guys like this –- is that this is our team, and I truly believe that,” Kitchens said. “It is our team. I am just kind of a front man because if those guys in the locker room do not hold each other accountable, if our coaches do not hold their positions groups accountable and the players amongst themselves do not hold each other accountable, we are not going to have anything anyway. At the core of everything, it is what our team is. It is what our offense is. It is what our defense is.

“I truly believe the letter ‘I’ is a dangerous proposition when you start using it in terms of describing yourself in a team setting. We do not do that here. It is always ‘we, us, our.’ That is what it is now, and that is what it became when I got hired. We were not hiring anybody that did not have that same kind of outlook on things. We want to create that environment for our players. Whenever we do that, we will have something. Right now, we are just a bunch of good individual players. Yeah, our roster looks great on paper -- whoopty-hell, all right? But at the end of the day, we better be a good team. You start building that during this time of the year, and training camp is a big portion of that.”

It all sounds good, but it won’t change the fact that: (1) the Browns have high expectations; and (2) if they fail to meet them, Kitchens will get the blame.