Mangini confident he’s changing Browns
His boss sent a congratulatory text message. Hall of Famer Jim
Brown delivered his to Eric Mangini in person. Eagles coach Andy
Reid dropped him a note and even the guy who delivers Mangini’s
newspaper told the Browns coach how much he appreciated the
Not just any win. One over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It’s nice to beat them,” Mangini said. “It’s
Important for the Browns. Important for Cleveland. And, perhaps
most importantly, for Mangini’s future.
On a frostbitten Thursday night, the Browns (2-11) ended a
seven-game losing streak and a 12-game slide against Pittsburgh
with a 13-6 upset of the Steelers, whose fifth straight loss may
have ended any chance of the Super Bowl champions defending their
Mangini has been increasingly under fire as the Browns have
staggered through one of the worst seasons in their history. But by
guiding Cleveland to just its second win over its archrival in 20
games, Mangini may have shown that his system may be working.
“Yesterday was proof,” Browns linebacker David Bowens said.
“We played a good Pittsburgh team. They were down with losing so
many games in a row but they’re still the Super Bowl champs.
Yesterday and last week (a 30-23 loss to San Diego) showed the type
of team we can be.”
His future remains cloudy, but Mangini, who has been criticized
for almost everything he’s done since arriving in January, is
convinced that his system is taking hold. The record doesn’t show
it, but it will, he says.
“I believe in what we do,” he said. “I know it works. I know
it’s going to work here. I know we’re going to win a lot of games
here. I know we’re going to have a team week in and week out the
city is going to be proud of. These are good guys, working toward
the same goal. That to me is the essence of winning.
“It’s going to happen.”
Mangini said he received a “nice, positive” message from owner
Randy Lerner, who intends to hire a “czar” to oversee the club’s
football operations. While Lerner has kept his search secretive,
Mangini has made it known that he’s willing to work with anyone who
can help the Browns.
He may have no choice.
Lerner’s hire likely will be the one who decides whether to keep
Mangini, who was fired after three seasons with the New York Jets.
Mangini is confident whomever Lerner brings in will appreciate what
he has done since taking over a Browns team that went 4-12 last
season under Romeo Crennel.
Mangini may have to convince any new executive he’s worth
keeping. He’s positive he will.
“I would imagine if anybody who would merit the title czar
would look a lot deeper than just the record,” he said. “I think
that there’s been rationale for all the decisions. There’s a
thought process, some of it’s been good, some of it’s been bad.
There’s a reason behind it.
“Anybody who comes in can take a look at it. Sit down, talk to
the coaches, they’re good coaches. Sit in on any meeting. Watch our
practices. See how we operate. Come to our meetings, see how we do
things. See how we function as a staff. It’s good and it’s right
and I’m confident. Come take a look because it’s a good
Mangini has been tough on his players, but he felt he needed to
be. The Browns had it too easy under Crennel, and one of Mangini’s
objectives this season has been to instill discipline by
implementing strict rules and working his players harder than they
He’s asked a lot of the Browns, but Mangini said he’s actually
softened up since his days in New York.
“I know this may be hard to believe, but I actually came in
here a lot less heavy-handed than when I went into New York,” he
said, raising his right hand as if he was being sworn in by a
bailiff. “I’ve never wanted to instill discipline for the sake of
being in charge, that’s not what it’s about. It’s because it helps
you wins games. I don’t want to exert power to exert power, I want
the group to operate efficiently. That’s always been the
Mangini believes he has always had his players’ support. The
idea of a coaching change doesn’t sit well with some of Cleveland’s
players, who would favor stability.
Josh Cribbs, the Browns’ multitalented kick returner, wide
receiver and part-time quarterback, said firing Mangini would be
“It takes time to build,” Cribbs said. “To give a football
coach one year to turn a football team drastically around is not
possible,” he said. “You don’t expect a coach to come in right
now and win. To get rid of coach Mangini, I don’t think would be a
good decision for our organization. To start rebuilding all over
again, this will be three different head coach regimes in the past
“Who would want to come coach here knowing if they don’t win
right away they’re gone?”
With three games left this season, the Browns have more chances
to show how far they’ve grown under Mangini. The results could sway
public opinion about him and maybe change the minds of those who
will decide if he should come back.
Mangini said he won’t spend any time worrying about his future.
There’s too much work to be done.
“I believe in what we do. I believe it to my core,” he said.
“I’ve seen it work. I know it works. I’m confident in it. I mean
that in a sincere way. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. I believe
in good people. I believe in hard work. I believe in discipline.
It’s truth in sports.
“If you have those things, you win.”