Browns beating themselves

Browns coach Eric Mangini must have felt like he was at home in

his living room scolding his three young sons.

For the second straight Monday, Cleveland’s coach stood in front

of his players and lectured them about their Sunday sins.

Too many penalties. Too many turnovers. Too many mistakes.

Too this. Too that.

”They’re tired of me saying it, and I’m tired of saying it,”

an exasperated Mangini said. ”We can’t have penalties. We can’t.

We can’t turn the ball over. We can’t do it. We’ll drill it, we’ll

talk about it, we’ll review it, we’ll analyze it. … You can’t

expect to win close games.

”Two games decided by five points with big swings in momentum,

you can’t do it.”

The Browns (0-2) dropped their second straight winnable game, a

16-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in a game that was almost

identical to their 17-14 loss at Tampa Bay a week earlier.

For the second straight game, Cleveland’s starting quarterback –

this time, it was backup Seneca Wallace filling in for injured

starter Jake Delhomme – threw a costly interception. For the second

straight game, the Browns failed to score in the second half as

their offense disappeared. For the second straight game,

Cleveland’s defense played good enough to win.

And, for the second straight game, the Browns came up short.

”We were leading both games,” wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi

said, slightly shaking his head. ”We turned the ball over. We had

too many penalties in the second half. We just didn’t finish the

way we’re supposed to.”

See, the Browns are listening to Mangini. They’re just not doing

what they’re told.

Like kids.

This is not the start the Browns wanted – nor the one Mangini

may need to keep his job.

While there’s no evidence team president Mike Holmgren is ready

to make any drastic moves, the Browns have no breaks in their

schedule over the next seven weeks, and without a win or two or any

significant improvement, the cries for Mangini’s dismissal already

filling the air on sports talk shows will get louder.

The Browns, though, still have optimism despite losing to two

teams they felt they should have beaten.

”We know we’re a better team and we just handed out

victories,” cornerback Eric Wright said. ”We were in situations

where we should have won two games and we lost them.”

Mangini’s post-mortem on Cleveland’s latest loss, which dropped

the Browns to 1-11 in home openers since 1999, focused on the

team’s self-inflicted wounds (nine penalties for 78 yards) and the

offense’s inability to move the ball in the second half.

With Wallace under center in his 15th career start, Cleveland

gained only 55 yards and three first downs – one came on a penalty

– after halftime. The Browns were predictable and unable to find

any holes in Kansas City’s defense, which ended last season as the

NFL’s 30th-ranked unit and had a short week after playing on Monday

night.

After reviewing tape, Mangini said he wished he had used more of

the ”Wildcat” package with wide receiver Joshua Cribbs at

quarterback and Wallace lined up on the edge. The Browns used it

only once, with Cribbs picking up 1 yard on a 3rd-and-3.

”Looking back, it’s something I would have done more in

retrospect,” said Mangini, adding offensive coordinator Brian

Daboll concurred with his assessment. ”We talked about it this

morning. Both of us agreed, we should’ve run it more – to get Josh

more touches. He’s got a chance on any play.”

The Browns don’t have many playmakers. Cribbs, who returned two

kickoffs for touchdowns against the Chiefs last season, is the

club’s best home-run hitter – and maybe even their best runner.

Mangini isn’t the only one who would like to see Cribbs get the

ball more.

”Everybody knows that Josh can do once he has the ball in his

hands,” Massaquoi said. ”Special things happen when he has the

ball.”

Mangini did not have any update on Delhomme, who injured his

right ankle while throwing an interception in last week’s game at

Tampa Bay. Delhomme was in a walking boot on the sideline Sunday.

Mangini promised he would have further information on Wednesday,

when the Browns begin preparing for this week’s game in

Baltimore.

Mangini did not promise any wholesale lineup changes, but made

it clear that he won’t tolerate mistakes from those currently on

the field.

”I don’t really see it as me benching anybody,” he said. ”I

see it as either hold onto ball and get carries or you don’t hold

onto the ball and you don’t get carries. The same thing with

penalties. Either you stay onsides or you don’t. If you jump

offsides on third down, then we’re not going to play you on third

down. That’s it. We’ll put somebody else in and if they beat us on

the play, they beat us on the play.

”If that person’s maybe not exactly who we would want on that

play, it’s going to be better than giving away a first down. We’ve

got to do it. There’s no alternative.”