View Full Version : Under Mangini, Browns Are a Team in Turmoil

11-21-2009, 08:07 PM
Under Mangini, Browns Are a Team in Turmoil
Tony Dejak, Associated Presshttp://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/ ... rowns.html (Presshttp://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/sports/football/22browns.html)

Perhaps the clearest indicator of the state of the Cleveland Browns came from the sign a fan carried at their Monday night game last week.
“Hey Baltimore,” it read, “can you take this team too?”

Not likely. After all, Baltimore has the Ravens, the team that alighted from Cleveland in 1996 and, in becoming a frequent playoff team, is everything the Browns wish they were. Instead, Cleveland, with one victory and five offensive touchdowns in nine games, may be even worse than the expansion team that replaced the departed team in 1999.

Last Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals wrested supremacy of the American Football Conference North from the Pittsburgh Steelers, a position that looked to be the Browns’ after they won 10 games two years ago. But on Monday, the Browns were embarrassed by the Ravens, 16-0, on national television. This Sunday, in a game the N.F.L. might be happy to black out, the Browns (1-8) will look across the field to see what they are in danger of becoming — the Detroit Lions (1-8).

“I think a lot of teams that were 4-12 or worse last year have one win,” Cleveland Coach Eric Mangini said last week. (The Browns were 4-12 last season.) “It’s not where we want to be, by any stretch. I came in with the assumption the goal was progress. And it’s hard to see the progress, but there’s been a lot of progress. When you’re trying to build something that is sustainable and something that is real and strong, it doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t microwave it.”

Maybe not. But the deterioration of the Browns is at full boil right now, and Mangini has been scorched by a series of unflattering stories since he arrived.

There was the painted-over mural of former great Browns players. Mangini said he thought the franchise should have a better display, and the mural was destroyed before the new display was installed.

There was the 10-hour bus ride that team rookies had to take from Cleveland to Hartford to help out at Mangini’s football camp. Mangini flew, but after the incident became public, he took the bus home.

And there was the $1,701 fine for a player who failed to pay for a $3 bottle of water at a team hotel. A Browns official said the player had a long unpaid tab stretching over several years.

Mangini said he was surprised by how seemingly small incidents had garnered so much attention. That, though, is frequently the plight of losing teams.

Now, the ground may be shifting beneath Mangini’s feet. Jim Brown, the Hall of Fame running back who is an executive adviser to the team, told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland last week that the team owner Randy Lerner wants to hire a Parcellsian “football guru” to turn the team around and had begun interviewing people for that job. Mangini said he would love to have someone who could help, except that the expectation in league circles is that Mangini will not survive. The Browns declined a request to speak with Lerner. Mangini said he expected to be around.

“I’m comfortable sitting down with someone,” Mangini said. “I’d love to sit down with a Bill Parcells type and show them this is what we’re doing.”

The picture may look pretty only to Mangini. A few weeks ago, George Kokinis, whom Mangini handpicked as general manager, was sent packing. Ernie Accorsi, a former Browns and Giants executive, advised Lerner in January to hire the Giants personnel executive David Gettleman as the general manager. Instead, Lerner hired Mangini days after he was fired by the Jets, then let Mangini pick Kokinis, an extremely unusual move because it gave the coach inordinate power in the organization.

Accorsi’s name has been floated as a potential general manager, but he has said he has no interest in the job.

“Clearly, there is nobody there to give them a direction,” said Michael Lombardi, a former Browns personnel executive who has been critical of Mangini and Lerner in postings for the National Football Post, a Web site. “The thing they need to do is forget about trying to get to a press conference to say you’re hiring someone who has name value. But hire someone who can develop a philosophy. It’s going to have to be a universal effort.”

About Lerner, Lombardi added: “I’m not sure he understands what Bill Parcells is about. It’s not a magic wand. It’s a philosophy. It’s every level of the organization. It’s really easy to say you want to be somebody, but if you’re not sure who that person is you want to be, you still have a problem.”

According to two people with knowledge of the Browns’ workings but not authorized to speak about the team, Kokinis, whose contract stated that he would have final say over personnel and report only to Lerner, had disagreements with Mangini on personnel almost immediately. One of those two said Kokinis was so far out of the loop on personnel that he was not told that the Browns had traded Braylon Edwards to the Jets until the deal was completed. Kokinis has retained a lawyer in an attempt to be paid the terms of his contract. The Browns still owe an estimated $20 million to a former coach, Romeo Crennel, and general manager, Phil Savage.

“I can promise you going into this, nobody wanted it to not work out,” Mangini said. “I don’t want complete control over personnel. I want good players.”

The Browns do not have many of those. Edwards and Kellen Winslow, the offense’s most dynamic players, were traded, ending their tumultuous stays in Cleveland and allowing the Browns to restock a cupboard barren of draft choices.

The players remaining behind have created waves. Two weeks ago, running back Jamal Lewis complained that the Browns were worn out by three-hour practices. Those complaints about Mangini are not new. They surfaced when he took over the Jets. Mangini chalks it up to the normal pains of transitions.

But according to an N.F.L. executive not permitted to speak about a labor issue, the players association received calls from at least five Cleveland players expressing concerns about practices. Two young players were seriously injured during what Mangini calls “opportunity periods” after the regular practice is over. Mangini has defended his practices, saying they last just two hours, followed by a half-hour walk-through. Last week, the union sent a representative to meet with Cleveland players.

“Yes, we did update them on the collective bargaining agreement, and yes, we reminded them of their health and safety rights under the C.B.A.,” George Atallah, a union official, said.

As the season has devolved around him, Mangini has often invoked his connection to his estranged mentor, New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick: Mangini sees many similarities between the Browns this season and the Patriots of 2000, and how Belichick’s practice schedule is like Mangini’s. Perhaps that is Mangini’s way of reminding detractors where he learned so many of the things he is criticized for. The danger, though, is that people will compare their results.

In the meantime, Mangini tries to keep his sense of humor while Cleveland stews.

“Let’s think about what else I’m responsible for — global warming?” Mangini said with a laugh. “The real estate collapse?”

“Mangini,” he finished. “Not Madoff.”

11-21-2009, 10:02 PM
I thought that Mangini was a bad hire for the Browns (and quite good for the Steelers), but I never envisioned that it would lead to such a train wreck. I almost feel bad for the browns and their fans.

11-22-2009, 01:18 AM
I thought that Mangini was a bad hire for the Browns (and quite good for the Steelers), but I never envisioned that it would lead to such a train wreck. I almost feel bad for the browns and their fans.

Key word...almost. :lol: :brownssuck

11-22-2009, 03:51 AM
the danger is, they collapse so completely the organization finally has no choice but to completely start over. i had hoped mangini would turn in a few 5-6 win seasons. just barely good enough to keep his job........

sooner or later with all these coaching changes - they may just luck into something good. that would be tragic....... :brownssuck :brownssuck :brownssuck

11-22-2009, 09:42 AM
Latest word is that Lerner is looking strong at 'the Walrus' Holmgren and Holmgren said he is "very interested" in a position with the Browns. Won't be coach, but probably an executive in the front office.

Either way, I am not worried. Holmgren's best days are gone with his old QB Favre....

11-22-2009, 10:00 AM
I don't completely blame Mangini. The problem is that the Browns fans and media have a (and have had for a decade) a totally unrealistic expectation of what that team has and is. The team has been nothing for a decade. They had on "lucky" year two years ago and gained way too much false hope.

Mangini came in and saw that and decided it would be better to blow it up and start from scratch and get some draft picks doing that. The problem starts and ends with the QB. They have nothing. Anderson was a one year wonder and Brady never had it but because he is a local boy the stupid browns fans have pumped him up to be more than he ever could be. It was not by accident that he dropped so far in the draft. The rest of the league saw he didn't have it and was a creation of the Notre Dame media machine.

Face the facts Browns fans. You lack the talent to complete in the AFC North. Fire Mangini if you want but that won't get you talent or wins next year. :brownssuck

11-22-2009, 02:49 PM
Latest word is that Lerner is looking strong at 'the Walrus' Holmgren and Holmgren said he is "very interested" in a position with the Browns. Won't be coach, but probably an executive in the front office.

Either way, I am not worried. Holmgren's best days are gone with his old QB Favre....

Maybe after Minnesota is done with him, and he wants to un-retire again in his 50's, the Browns will finally find a QB in Favre. :lol: