Freddie Kitchens doesn’t want to hear about the “bullseye.”
He’s heard all of the questions about it, has given all the answers and, frankly, doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. At this point for Kitchens, it’s just not worth discussing any further.
Kitchens knows the Browns have a target on their back. It might be a bit larger after the addition of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and the ever-growing ascension of quarterback Baker Mayfield — both in his swagger and talent. To Kitchens, however, that bullseye has always been with the Browns. It’s with every team that plays in the NFL.
And Kitchens doesn’t need to be reminded of that. He made that clear in his press conference Tuesday inside the Browns’ fieldhouse after another hot morning of practice.
“We don’t care,” Kitchens said. “It’s already on there, so it doesn’t matter. We’ll be ready to play.”
And then, silence. Kitchens looked around with a straight face and made sure his point was clear.
“I don’t know what a ‘bullseye’ is,” Kitchens added. “Does anybody know?”
Check out photos from the eighteenth day of Browns Camp by team photographer Matt Starkey
The Browns aren’t paying attention to any of the outside noise. Kitchens has emphasized that throughout camp, and he knows his players aren’t focused on the expectations created my media, fans or anyone else.
So, this bullseye concept doesn’t quite line up for Kitchens. He expects each opponent to bring their best against the Browns no matter how big that target is. Kitchens expects the Browns to bring their best, too, but that’s not because opponents are looking to debunk the buildup of the Browns’ hype after a busy offseason.
The Browns will bring their best because that’s what Kitchens demands. Period.
Kitchens' demands won’t ever stem from outside noise nor the hypothetical size of a bullseye on his team’s back.
“We’re going to get somebody’s best effort,” Kitchens said. “What does that tell you? That’s being disrespectful for the team you’re playing if you don’t think you’re not getting their best effort. What are they going to do, sit 10 starters or something? I don’t understand that.”
Kitchens won’t lock up the outgoing personalities of Beckham and Mayfield, either. Both have drawn national attention with stories full of anecdotes and quotes that displayed their hefty loads of confidence — both in themselves and the Browns — and Kitchens has no qualms with either players’ willingness to speak their mind.
For Kitchens, the outside attention means nothing. He’s adamant the Browns only focus on themselves, not what the next national story will convey about the personalities of any Browns player.
“We’re going to give our best effort every week, and I hope that we get theirs,” Kitchens said. Then, we’ll see who’s best. The expectations that (the media) set does not matter about our expectations: just perform the best we can do. I’m only talking about everything we’re doing right now.”
If the Browns meet those expectations they have for themselves this season, the national attention will only increase. That imaginary bullseye on their backs will grow, too.
But the negative outside noise? That should stop.