CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Steve Wilks knows firsthand what it’s like to be fired after only one season on the job. He was ousted after going 3-13 last season with the Arizona Cardinals, his first experience as an NFL head coach. Now the Browns defensive coordinator, Wilks says it takes time to build the right culture, and he believes Freddie Kitchens deserves that time.
“It takes time build a culture,” Wilks told reporters on Thursday. “It takes time to implement your system and get guys on the same page. Sometimes the business is what it is, but without a doubt, I think Freddie definitely is the guy for this job. What he has been able to do in a short period of time, you can see the progress in the things that we are doing as far as moving forward.”
Kitchens, in his first year as a head coach at any level, has been under fire for most of the season for erratic playcalling, undisciplined players, and the lack of wins, after many predicted a playoff run for the Browns.
At 6-9 and out of the playoff picture heading into Sunday’s season finale in Cincinnati, the best Kitchens and the Browns can do is match last year’s win total (when they went 7-8-1), or ... worse ... finish 6-10 if they lose to the 1-14 Bengals.
Kitchens was asked if he thinks about what ‘could have been’, if they hadn’t suffered ugly losses like the ones to the Broncos, Steelers and Cardinals.
“I think every year is that way for the bad and for the good because there are good things that happen, too, to enable you to win some games," Kitchens said. "At the end of the day, all of that kind of stuff sort of works itself out, but of course, there are always things we look back on but there is no reason to do that now. At some point, we go back and evaluate and see what we could have done differently collectively, individually everybody.”
Wilks never got a second season in his first NFL head coaching job. He’s hoping Kitchens does. But if changes are indeed made, well, that’s the business.
“You know what? I think we are all grown," Wilks said. "We know what we signed up for. I think as an individual, you have to have enough confidence in yourself and in your ability, but most importantly, you have stay focused on the task at hand. That is what I try to do, and that is definitely what Freddie is doing now.”