Browns Veterans Speak to Media Following Kitchens' Dismissal

Following yesterday's firing of Head Coach Freddie Kitchens, three Browns veteran players spoke with the media in Berea this afternoon. Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey and Jarvis Landry all commented on Freddie Kitchens, the state of the team going forward and the upcoming coaching search. Here is the transcript from today's media availability:

G Joel Bitonio:

On if he is surprised with how the season ended and Head Coach Freddie Kitchens being relieved of his duties:

“It is one of those things where you try and do your best on the field and you do what you can. You never want to see a coach get fired. That is his livelihood. That is his job, and you are going to lose a bunch of other coaches in the process. Management thought it was best to move in a new direction. I think the goal for the team is how we are going to win more games next year. That is all there is to it. From a player’s perspective, from a new coaches’ perspective and from a team perspective, what can we do to win more games? It is one of those things when you are not playing well, things like that happen.”

On the notion that Kitchens was ‘in over his head’:

“I thought Freddie did the best job he could. I thought he came into the situation with a lot of talent and a lot of guys, but it was his first job as a head coach in the NFL. Anybody’s first job, there are learning curves obviously, but I thought Freddie put himself in a good position each week to give us a chance to win. I think everybody in the organization has to take a step, look at themselves in the mirror and be like, ‘What can I do personally to be better?’ It comes from each player form each person in any part of the building that is within the football organization. We have to look at ourselves and prove ourselves.”

On if he has gotten used to situations like this:

“No, you have these relationships with these people. You care about people. It is a business, but it is a people business, too. Every player that comes through here that you have been a part of you know that there is a chance you never play with those guys again. 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 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.”

On being head coach of the Cleveland Browns is a difficult NFL job:

“I think it is one of 32 NFL coaching jobs so if you think coaching in the NFL is tough, then yeah, it is a tough job. 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. 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.”

On the best qualities 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. 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.”

LB Christian Kirksey:

On the 2019 season and coaching changes as the year closes:

“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 fix-ables and be a team.”

On what went wrong this season and if it can be repaired for next year:

“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.”

On ideal characteristics of the Browns’ next head coach:

“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.”

On experiencing multiple coaching changes in his career and if he has become numb to it to a degree:

“I have been on this rollercoaster before. You just have to keep a clear mind and stay positive throughout the process. We all know the business. It is devastating at times, but you just have to keep moving forward. That is all you can do. Work on your craft and work on being the best player you can be and the best player the team needs.”

On S Damarious Randall stating he believed the team was making strides with its chemistry and why the team could not pull together down the stretch to make a playoff push:

“I think we pulled together. We just did not win enough games. As (S) Damarious (Randall) said, our team chemistry was there. We were bonding. We just did not quite put the pieces to the puzzle all together.”

On having to be a vocal leader off the field rather than on this year, given his early injury:

“It was a little weird for me, but obviously, last year going through an injury and this year going through an injury, you just have to mentally prepare yourself. I do have a responsibility when I am not playing, and that is to be the best leader I can be and help those guys. I think everybody played with a lot of heart. That is something that I strive for – playing with heart. Those guys did that. I had to sit back and watch it and just help younger guys whenever they needed me to.”

WR Jarvis Landry:

On if Head Coach Freddie Kitchens dismissal was a surprise to him:

“Like I said to you guys yesterday, it was not my decision, but whatever I think ownership did is what they felt was best for the organization and for us as players.”

On how change can be turned into a good thing:

“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.”

On if structure or discipline is most needed with the Browns:

“Just leadership. Leadership.”

On explaining how the Browns seemed to get further away from its goals than closer during losses to the Cardinals and Bengals:

“I think the biggest things a lot of times in those games, 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. 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.”

On stating leadership is needed and if leadership was lacking this season:

“I would not say that it was lacking. I would just say that the identity of who we are and we are trying to become and making sure that... I knew there was no doubt. I knew there was no doubt that the people here were trying to win. Everybody in this organization we were trying to win. I just did not think we knew how to do it.”

On when the Browns recognized the season was not going as anticipated:

“Maybe the Arizona game. If you look back throughout the season, we played a lot of playoff teams. Really tough. We could have beat a lot of playoff teams – a lot of teams, we were four plays on the 5-yard line. The Arizona game was one of those games where we seemed to not be able to really do anything until the second half from an offensive standpoint. By that time, the defense had played a lot of snaps against a no-huddle team and kind of got worn down a little bit. At the end of the day, it is a team game, and you need all phases to step up and do their job from the opening kickoff.”

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