I am sick and tired of reading about Eric Mangini's job security.
How can anyone watch the Browns this season and think that a change needs to happen? I know Mangini lacks the name recognition of Tony Dungy or Brian Billick. He lacks the in your face attitude of Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden, not to mention the absence of a certain piece of jewelry that each of those four men possesses. When you hear those names, you get excited, you have visions of division titles and Super Bowls.
But Mangini is different. He is the almighty secret keeper. He very rarely yells at officials or players. He has his moments during press conferences, but you would never confuse him with Rex or Rob Ryan. He is milk in a Soda Pop world. Good for you, but "meh".
No, instead Eric Mangini has come to the Cleveland Browns and quietly done exactly what was needed. Maybe we forget how bad the situation was here in Cleveland. A quick refresher may help.
In 2007, this team was a high flying passing offense that, if it had its choice, would rather outscore you than play a slow down game. In the back of most fans minds, we knew that kind of offense would struggle when the weather turned, and sure enough on a windy day in Cinncy, it did. The 2007 Cleveland Browns had some good pieces, but needed to shape the foundation of the roster through the draft and fill small holes through free agency.
Phil Savage had a different idea. He sent draft picks everywhere, and signed older veterans to expensive deals. Savage was going for it.
Splat. That wasted off-season didn't just harm the 2008 season, it destroyed the season after, and probably after that. Donte Stallworth had a couple of catches and a disastrous wreck to show from his five year, 35 million dollar contract. Mangini and company allowed the Law and Order part of his ordeal play out before dumping him and his deal. Corey Williams was never happy in the 3-4 and his play showed that. He was traded, along with his monstrous contract under Mangini. Did I mention the Brady Quinn saga and the Derek Anderson contract? Shaun Rogers was the one bright spot, although he has been injured, he continues to be one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
This is what Mangini had to work with. A broken team. A pain in the ass wide receiver, who to this very day thinks he is 100x better than he really is, a tightend who had the knees of 50-year old and wanted to be paid; a horrible, and did I mention over-paid, offensive line, a running back who was years past his prime and a quarterback soap opera that would be more suited for day-time Telemundo. That was just the offense! On the defensive side of the ball, the Browns only have one defensive starter on this team now, Eric Wright. (Two others are on IR, Robaire Smith and D'Qwell Jackson). Everyone else was either brought in, or elevated.
That is what Mangini came into. Doesn't that sound like fun? Add in the fact that Romeo Crennel had lost control of the franchise before he left, and you have complete chaos.
Mangini was the first Head Coach that decided to do something unique. He started building the roster from the top AND bottom. Not only did he add high end talent (Mack, Haden, Ward), but he completely destroyed and rebuilt the lower end of the roster. Gone from the team were players like Tim Carter, replacing him was Chansi Stuckey. Nothing flashy, but a solid veteran who will do his job when called upon. Young, hungry defenders that wanted to prove themselves (Marcus Benard). No names to 90% of the public, but guys that wanted to play the game in the way Mangini wanted.
Going into this season, no one thought we were a playoff team. We were a young team trying to learn to walk before we ran. We were building a team like you build a good house. Ground up. We knew that we were probably headed for a 3rd or 4th place finish in the division, but as long as we saw growth from certain areas, we would be happy. We have seen growth at QB, WR, TE, C, OLB, CB and SS. If I told you that before the season, wouldn't you have been bouncing off the walls?
No, the Browns aren't finished. In fact, they still have a lot of work to do. They could use an upgrade on the right side of the offensive line. They need at least 2 starting wide receivers, youth in the front seven, and the need for a top flight pass rusher is glaring. This upcoming draft is a "must" in the development of this team.
But, I will tell you this. This team is so far ahead of where we were when Eric Mangini walked into this job. He has made this and AFC North team. We can punish teams with the run. We can hit you in the mouth of defense. This is a team that is built to play on the shore of Lake Erie in -10 degrees and 35 MPH winds. This is the team that Marty Schottenheimer wanted to build. This is the team that we wanted. A blue collar, tough as nails, never say die, sledgehammer of a team.
So, why is Mangini's job security even a question?