Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In Defense (Sort of) of Eric Mangini

So everybody is jumping up and down on Eric Mangini this week. Certainly, that is to be expected given last week's non-performance in Baltimore. The team was not adequately prepared and did not execute in any phase of the game...ultimately that responsibility falls upon the head coach. However, the (utterly predictable) calls for his job by the unwashed masses and Joe Posnanski's inflammatory for the sake of being inflammatory article are utterly ridiculous.

Don't buy into the hyperbole of what the no-talent hacks like Posnanski, Tony Grossi and other members of the media (who admittedly dislike Mangini because he makes their job harder) have to say.

As an example, let's examine Posnanski's claims about why Eric Mangini was a bad hire:

1. Mangini had just been fired in New York, where he had done a terrible job. He had a losing record. His team had collapsed down the stretch, he had alienated his players, he was a pain in the neck to deal with. Point is: He'd already PROVEN how much damage he could do as a coach.

Did Manging do a terrible job in New York? Taking over a 4-12 team, he was 10-6 in his first season, and brought the Jets to the playoffs. After an admittedly bad season in 2007, he had the Jets off to an 8-3 start last year before Favre's injury and ineffectiveness resulted in a 9-7 finish. That is 23-25 in three seasons. I'm not arguing that he did a fantastic job, but a nearly .500 record over three seasons should hardly be called terrible. (also notice how one of Posnaski points is that "he was a pain in the neck to deal with"...again, Mangini does make media members jobs more difficult and they hate him for it...I, for one, couldn't care less).

2. He came right out of the school of Bill Belichick ... and that didn't work THE FIRST TIME in Cleveland. It seems to me that Cleveland is a working-class town and Browns fans want a working-class coach -- not some pompous know-it-all who doesn't feel like he should have to explain to the commoners what he's doing.

The reason Bill Belichick didn't work in Cleveland is because he didn't win enough. Knowing everything you know about Bill Belichick, would you have taken him as the Browns coach in 1999 or even now? I sure would. It is about winning. Belichick, in his second incarnation, became one of the best coaches of all time, in part certainly due to learning from mistakes he made in his first go around as head coach. Could something similar happen with Mangini? Maybe. I can only speak for myself, and I don't know what "working-class" means, but I don't care how much of a prick the Browns coach is as long as they win!

3. What had he ever done to convince anyone he could be a head coach in the first place? Why, because he was a defensive coordinator for the Patriots under Belichick for one season? The Browns had JUST HIRED Romeo Crennel, who was ALSO defensive coordinator under Belichick. Attention Cleveland Browns owners, here's a good hint: BILL BELICHICK IS HIS OWN DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR.

Despite Mangini's expanding girth, comparing he and Romeo is comparing apples and oranges....ok, milky way and cake. Romeo was lauded as a great hire because he had "paid his dues" as an assistant and he had convinced people that he was qualified to be a head coach. And he was a bust! So there is no tried and true way to convince someone that you are qualified to be a head coach. Good head coaches and bad head coaches come from all organizations and all experience levels. And you have no idea what was said in Mangini's interview to convince Woody Johnson and then Randy Lerner that he was qualified to be a head coach, but the bottom line is that the interview likely had much more to do with his hire than his resume.

4. Basically the first thing Mangini did -- first thing -- was have them tear down a mural of great Cleveland Browns players on the wall in the Browns offices. Now, there are differing opinions about what really happened, whose fault it really was, does it all matter, etc. You know what? The Cleveland Browns have never been to a Super Bowl. Never. Not one. But Browns fans still have a whole lot of pride. Browns fans grow up on a glorious history. If you allow something stupid like that to happen on your watch ... just a horrendous hire.

This is laughable and totally irresponsible reporting. Mangini, like almost any new coach, did some rearranging of the locker room and the facility. The mural that Posnanski refers to was actually moved to a much more prominent place in the facility (why the failure to mention that one, Joe?). The Browns organization has reached out to its alumni. Do you see Paul Warfield and Jim Brown on the bench every game? This is a totally salacious and false argument and is only used to drum up a dramatic conclusion.

So there you have it my friends. I'm not saying that Eric Mangini will end up being a great coach for the Browns. There are clearly a lot of holes in the ship. Some of the early season failings are due truly to a lack of NFL talent, while some absolutely fall on the coaching staff and the head coach in particular. But it is important to note that Posnanski and other members of the media already dislike Mangini and are eager to see him fail. But we Browns fans are smarter than that. Let's see how the season continues to play out and what kind of progress the team makes before rushing to judgment. I know last week was dark, but keep your heads up and keeping cheering on Sundays.

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