It’s the offseason for 20 NFL teams on Black Monday. Among its first casualties the Bucs can benefit from are Freddie Kitchens and James Bettcher. The Cleveland Browns fired Kitchens as head coach after a disappointing 6-10 season. Originally projected as early playoff favorites, the Browns underachieved with franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield struggling and the team undisciplined. The New York Giants fired head coach Pat Shurmur after four disappointing seasons amassing a 9-23 record. James Bettcher joined Shurmur’s staff as defensive coordinator in 2018.
Freddie Kitchens’ Prior History With Arians
Kitchens served under Bruce Arians during their time with the Arizona Cardinals. When the Cardinals hired Arians as head coach in 2013, he shifted Kitchens from coaching tight ends to quarterbacks from 2013-2016 and running backs in 2017.
When Arians “retired” following the 2017 season, Kitchens joined the Browns to serve multiple roles as associate head coach, running backs coach, and offensive coordinator. He initially served under Hue Jackson in 2018 and later, under interim HC Gregg Willaims following his firing. Kitchens took over head coaching duties recruiting former Bucs OC Todd Monken to take his former position.
James Bettcher’s Prior History With Arians
Bettcher worked with Arians when they coached together for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012. Arians served as OC replacing his current Bucs QB coach Clyde Christensen and later interim HC with Chuck Pagano’s leukemia diagnosis. Pagano hired Bettcher to coach outside linebackers from New Hampshire under DC Greg Manusky. Bettcher made lateral move coaching outside linebackers for Arians leaving with him to Arizona. When then DC Todd Bowles left to serve as head coach of the New York Jets in 2015, Arians promoted Bettcher to his position. As with Kitchens, Bettcher left the Cards following Arians’ initial “retirement.”
Kitchens and Bettcher could find themselves reunited with Arians in Tampa to help bolster both sides of the ball. Under Kitchens, the Cards had serviceable passing his first two seasons as QB coach working with Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. In 2015-2016, the Cards developed into among the top passing attacks of the league. The team ranked second in passing yards and third in passing TDs in 2015 under Palmer. The following season, Palmer still maintained a top 10 standing in passing yards and passing TDs dipped to just 11th in 2016. Running sputtered in 2017 as the team ranked 30th with no back topping 500 yards.
Under Bettcher, the Cardinals became a top 10 defense in yards surrendered all three seasons. The team finished seventh in points surrendered in 2015. Respectable defending the pass in 2015 and 2016, the team thrived in stopping the run finishing within the top 10 in yards all three seasons. Despite the 2019 Bucs finishing with the best-ranked defense against the run, they passing defense suffered nearly bottoming out at 30th. Bettcher’s presence could help the secondary. Also, keep in mind, Bettcher’s tenure in New York wasn’t memorable as the Giants struggled to contain the run and their pass defense below average.
If Winston’s record in 2019 ballooning his career numbers and erratic play, Kitchens could easily fit in either replacing Christensen coaching QBs, replace Rick Christophel at tight ends, or act more in a consulting role either complimenting or replacing Tom Moore. Bettcher could take a similar role on the defense or replace Larry Foote at outside linebackers. There is probably a good chance his primary duties will include to improve coverage should he join the Bucs.
Do you see both Kitchens and Bettcher reunite with Arians?
Photo credit: Arizona Cardinals
Source: Profootball Reference