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Jarvis Landry, Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey react to Browns' firing of HC Freddie Kitchens

Posted at 3:05 PM, Dec 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 15:05:19-05

BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns held player availability at the team’s facilities in Berea and a few of the team’s leaders reacted to Sunday’s firing of head coach Freddie Kitchens.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry said he trusts that owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam will help bring in the right man for the job.

“I think now just our outlook and what we have in the locker room as far as from a talent standpoint and guys having another year of experience under their belt. Ownership is going to look for somebody that can lead it in the right direction,” Landry said.

The Browns identity, or lack thereof, has been the topic of many conversations this season, but Landry believes a lot of the issues with the offense and how it’s operated can be resolved with the right head coach and position upgrades.

“We this year relied on plays and not players as much, especially from the offensive side of the ball. There are things that we can all get better at. There are things that myself, personally, have made mistakes on,” Landry said. “There are things that we have to learn from and try to move forward with. To answer your question, a lot is going to be answered with the head coaching position and how other positions get answered.”

Offensive guard Joel Bitonio said he understands the nature of the business but that it’s still hard to lose a head coach and the coaching staff that will inevitably be lost as well.

“It is a business, but it is a people business, too,” Bitonio said. “Some of these coaches have been great coaches and great mentors to me, and they are not going to be here anymore. It is one of the things where you look at it and you put yourself in their shoes and their families and stuff, and it is tough. They are out of a job. I know it is easy for a lot of people to be like ‘Oh, he is fired.’ It is a tough situation. You never want to see that happen.”

While the Browns have struggled for decades to find success, Bitonio believes with the right coaching, the Browns can turn things around.

“Have we had a winning tradition here? No. We have lost since we have been back, and we have to turn it around. We have to find a way. It is an NFL coaching job, and if you get the right people in the right spots, you have a chance to win here,” Bitonio said. “There is nothing cursed about the city or anything like that. You put the right guys on the field, you put the right coaching staff in and you have all of the people working for the same goal, and you are going to win games.”

Bitonio also shared the qualities he believes leadership should have.

“I think they have to have a strong plan and a strong belief in themselves because that carries down to everyone. If they have their plans in place, they can make those decisions and have every decision they make and understand that it is helping the team out in the long run, I think that is one,” Bitonio said. “I think they have to be good in front of the team and good in front of people and be a motivator of men. At this point in your career, you should be motivated to do your best all of the time. That is one of those things that I have seen in the NFL is guys should be self-motivated to be their best, but if you have a coach that can bring all that together and put the best team on the field, I think that is a good way to start.”

Linebacker Christian Kirksey spoke about the change at head coach and said he knows that the team is capable of being better in the 2020 season.

“We just have to look forward to 2020, evaluate ourselves and go out there and our mindset is to win ball games. We did not win enough this year so we just have to fix the fixables and be a team,” Kirksey said. “It can be repaired. We have a long offseason. Do the right things in the offseason, take care of our bodies and be the best football players you can be, and the organization is moving in the right direction. It is what it is.”

Kirksey’s biggest desire in whoever the front office chooses to replace Kitchens is simple.

“We just need a guy that is an exceptional leader as the Haslams already said. A guy who most of all who can win games.”

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