The Browns parted ways their head coach this week. They did the same with their offensive coordinator and shuffled several members of their coaching staff. The Browns have done that before, too, but they haven't done it midseason since Terry Robiskie took over for six games in 2004.
The Browns say this time is different, though. While past coaches were let go as part of a rebuilding process, the Browns believe they made these moves to re-energize a roster they believe has enough talent to win now.
"I do not think that we are giving up," Bitonio said. "I think this is a step to improve the team."
John Dorsey and owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam took that step around 9 a.m. Monday morning, or as soon as special teams meetings concluded. Bitonio said players learned of the news via their phones and locker room TVs.
For some, such as Bitonio and linebacker Christian Kirksey, who are poised to play for their third coach in five years, Monday's news was unfortunately familiar. For others, such as Baker Mayfield and Kevin Zeitler, who have never been on a team where the coach was fired, it was foreign territory.
"New experience," Zeitler said. "It is the first time it has ever happened to me, and just a challenge. We have to work through it."
The challenge is even steeper for Mayfield, who's experiencing his first coaching change during his first NFL season. He sees the change as more of a test of character than a statement of chaos, though.
"With all the distractions, we will see what kind of men we have in this room," Mayfield said. "Not what kind of team that we have, but what kind of men can handle a distraction the right way – can come together and focus on doing their job and doing it at a high level against a great team coming Sunday."
The Browns host the Chiefs — the best team in the AFC — on Sunday. Few outside the walls in Berea will give the Browns much of a chance, given all the recent change and the team's recent performance.
Bitonio would say those people are watching from the wrong viewpoint.
"I do not think that this is a step where it is, 'Oh, they are tearing everything down,'" Bitonio said. "I think we are just moving in a different direction. I think we have eight games to prove that, 'Hey, this team can go out there and compete and fight and go and try to find some wins out there.'"