Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Brown’s coach quits in Cleveland and moves into the college ranks

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The Cleveland Browns lost their second defensive coach in as many days with the departure of Chris Kiffin to join the collegiate ranks.

Kiffin has served as the Browns’ defensive line coach for the past two seasons. He will leave the NFL to oversee defense for his brother Lane Kiffin, head coach at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).

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Bruce Feldman, of The Athletic, first broke the news via Twitter on Thursday, January 13.

“SOURCE: Cleveland Browns DL coach Chris Kiffin is expected to join the Ole Miss coaching staff as co-defensive coordinator and lead the defense alongside Rebels defensive coordinator Chris Patridge.” Feldman wrote.

Positional coaches in the NFL don’t draw much attention, but they are absolutely essential. It can be argued that Kiffin was more important to the Browns than most.

For starters, the defensive front for Cleveland is the best unit this side of the ball. A lot of that has to do with the talent that resides there, starting with edge rusher Myles Garrett. But Kiffin has been Garrett’s most hands-on coach in training for the past two years. His departure is bound to mean something.

Garrett set two franchise records for the Browns in 2021 for both sacks in a season (16) and sacks in a single game (4.5) against the Chicago Bears. He ranked third in the NFL in stats, 2.5 sacks behind the Bears’ Robert Quinn and 6.5 sacks behind league leader TJ Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Despite these two players’ superior performance on the field, it was Garrett who emerged as the top edge rusher in the NFL this season with a 92.7 pass rush rating according to Pro Football Focus (PFF).

On the other side of the line, Jadeveon Clowney had a strong 9-sack campaign. That total is the highest he’s netted in four years, for which Kiffin deserves at least some credit. Clowney will enter the free-agent market this offseason after signing a one-year incentive deal with the Browns that was valued at $8 million.

The Browns, who likely command almost twice as much in free hands, could lose Garrett’s teammates, which would make losing Kiffin in a highly productive unit that much more stinging in 2021.

Just a day before Kiffin’s departure, assistant defensive line coach Jeremy Garrett announced he was leaving the Browns organization to lead the defensive line at Liberty University.

It was Feldman again from The Athletic who broke the news.

“SOURCE: Liberty is expected to hire Cleveland Browns assistant Jeremy Garrett as the new D-Line coach.” Feldman reported Wednesday.

Whether Jeremy Garrett’s decision was related to knowledge of Kiffin’s plans to leave the Browns was not clear Thursday. However, the job at Cleveland was likely a stepping stone for the assistant D-Line coach. He was with the Browns just one season, having spent the previous year at Vanderbilt University as that team’s quality control defensive coach.

Jeremy Garrett played college football at Ole Miss between 2004 and 2007, back when the current Liberty head coach, Hugh Freeze, had dual duties there as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach.

“SOURCE: Liberty is expected to hire Cleveland Browns assistant Jeremy Garrett as the new D-Line coach.” Feldman reported Wednesday.



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