Coach Freddie Kitchens is in Odell Beckham Jr.’s corner.
And he’s all-in with the superstar receiver.
Kitchens had Beckham’s back with the NFL after he was choked on the field by Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, then went out of his way to praise Beckham’s performance in the 40-25 win Sunday despite the worst statistical showing of his six-year career — two catches for 20 yards.
Kitchens thought Humphrey should’ve been ejected, but referee Shawn Hochuli said the action didn’t rise to the level of a “disqualifying foul.”
“Here’s my big deal with that: I just want to have consistency on how we’re going to deal with things, OK?” Kitchens said Monday on a conference call. “I don’t like seeing our player on the field and someone’s hands around his throat. I don’t like that. I don’t think that needs to be in our game and I would be the first to say that if it was our guy doing it. And I want everybody held to the same standard. That’s all I want.”
After the game Kitchens told ESPN he was going to call head of officiating Al Riveron on the bus to the airport. Kitchens amended that Monday.
“It’s against the rules to call before 9 a.m. I want to make it very clear that I did not call last night,” he said. “But we’re still in the process of talking through some things with that.”
He declined to say if he talked to Riveron on Monday.
“I don’t know what you get fined for and what you don’t get fined for so I’m not going to even answer that,” he said. “But I can promise you this: Hopefully I’ll have a better understanding of what we want it to look like on gameday.”
Beckham and Humphrey were locked up as Beckham blocked on a screen pass, then he punched Humphrey, who took him to the ground and choked him. Kitchens wanted an ejection but gave the officials a compliment.
“I do think that Shawn and those guys did an excellent job of maintaining control of the football game,” he said. “So my hat’s off to them in that scenario, because that can get out of hand in a hurry.”
Center JC Tretter was one of the four players who received personal fouls for their involvement in the fight. He said he pulled Humphrey off Beckham and didn’t get an explanation for why he was penalized.
“I wouldn’t change anything I did,” Tretter said. “Seeing a teammate pinned down like that, I’m not just going to stand there and let that go on.”
Beckham, who seems to invite drama, has had Kitchens’ support since being traded from the Giants in March. He included Beckham in his opening statement Monday.
“We’re very excited about Odell and the way he competed — every play,” Kitchens said. “If you watch the tape and you see his hustle and his determination to get down the field and help his teammates, it’s a testament to his character and a testament to the teammate that he is.”
He was impressed that Beckham stayed engaged while going without a catch into the fourth quarter.
“If you want to judge Odell Beckham, everybody knows about his skill level and his skill set. But if you want to know about Odell Beckham, put on those plays where Jarvis Landry is down the field 40 and 50 yards,” Kitchens said. “Look who’s down there with him trying to get him into the end zone. Look who’s down there making their block. Look who’s blocking 44 (Humphrey) before he gets punched in the throat. So if you want to tell about Odell Beckham as a football player and as a person, look at those plays.”
Beckham is off to a solid start, with a team-high 21 catches for 308 yards, a 14.7 average and a touchdown. He’s on pace for 84 catches, 1,232 yards and four scores.
The two catches tied a career low and broke a streak of 60 straight games with at least three catches, third-longest in NFL history. The 20 receiving yards were a career worst for the three-time Pro Bowler.
The Browns were able to take advantage of the Ravens’ focus on Beckham by getting the ball to other targets, including tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, who had a 59-yard catch-and-run down the seam when two defenders went to Beckham in the flat. Baker Mayfield threw for 342 yards, the Browns totaled 530 and Kitchens said there’s “no doubt” Beckham opened things for the rest of the offense.
“When you have a dynamic guy on the field, that definitely draws attention and guys have to decide how they want to play him,” Kitchens said. “We try to realize that early and decide what we need to do moving forward in the course of the game.”