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Freddie Kitchens vows he won't change a bit, and that's exactly what Browns like to hear from their new head coach

Freddie Kitchens left the orange hoodie inside his new office in Berea. The best he could do was sneak a hat past those who advised against such a look at a head coach's introductory press conference.

The clothes were about the only difference between the Kitchens who took the stage Monday and the Kitchens who has worked for everything he's earned on a 19-year journey that began as a running backs coach at Glenville State and culminated when he was named the Browns' 17th full-time head coach.

"The one thing I would say is what is so rewarding about getting the job here with the Cleveland Browns, they are not expecting anything different than what they have had. I can be myself," Kitchens said. "I don't have to put on a show, so that is not going to change in front of the team. It kills me with some guys that they think they have to be more head coach-ish, or whatever you call it. I won't be that. I will be who I am."

Kitchens never fantasized about the moment he experienced Monday, side by side with Browns general manager John Dorsey as the new head coach of a team he'd rooted for as a child. The thought never even crossed his mind until the end of the 2018 season, which began with Kitchens as the running backs coach and ended with him as the coordinator of one of the league's most explosive, efficient and flat-out entertaining offenses. Only when the opportunity became a reality -- when Dorsey asked him to interview, to be exact -- did Kitchens let his mind go there.

Kitchens embodies the day-by-day mindset. He practiced it well before a 2013 health scare that put him on an operating table for nearly 10 hours and hospitalized him for weeks.

"I meant it when I said it, I am one day at a time," Kitchens said. "You have to have a vision for the future, so that you can eliminate some roadblocks and some things along the way but I am trying to do the best job I can in this press conference. Then, I am going to leave here and John is going to leave here and we are going to go finish up this coaching staff. We are going to do it the best that we can today."

Asked on a handful of occasions why it took the double dismissal of a head coach and offensive coordinator at the midpoint of his 13th NFL season to earn his first opportunity to call plays, Kitchens shook his head. Kitchens doesn't believe in self-promotion, and that may have held him back. He even speculated the trademark twang in his voice turned off some people.

Whatever the reasons, Kitchens didn't let them bother him. The right circumstances, the right people and the right response from the players he led over the course of eight games put him in the proper position to land the top job with the storied franchise he watched as a child all the way down in Gadsden, Alabama.

Why change now when who he was got him to the chair he occupied Monday?

"You have to be authentic in everything you do," Kitchens said. "I know you have to put on a show in certain areas of business or whatever, but that is the great thing about the game of football. You can be authentic and you can be successful in doing that. And you don't have to change anything. You don't have to change who you are. Now, [speaking from perception] I do not have to change who I am here. Maybe I had to change, if I went and interviewed for another job ... But I think I have shown that being myself can work and it has for the last eight weeks."

In Dorsey's eyes, Kitchens "galvanized" a Browns offense that labored through the first half of the season. His impact, though, went far beyond the plays he called on Sundays. Kitchens showed off his football intelligence by identifying what needed to be fixed, and fixing it quickly, Dorsey said, while gaining trust from the players who were tasked to execute his play calls.

Kitchens reflected on his first offensive meeting as the group's coordinator. There wasn't a single mention of football. His message centered on trust, and how he'd only "ask them to do what is best for them."

The Browns are showing that same kind of trust in Kitchens, and he knows it. That's why he's not changing what's already impressed them enough to entrust him as their new head coach.

"I can be myself, and we are going to have fun," Kitchens said. "The fun is in the winning and we're going to have fun."