by Chaz Bolte AFCNT.com writer (Originally published on December 30th, 2009)
With Mike Holmgren in control many Browns players are playing for their jobs. Eric Mangini is also coaching for his job. The hottest team in the AFC North is now 4-11 after a three game winning streak. However when you have to rally with a three game push at the end of a season to achieve 4 wins you can’t be considered a winner. There is a chance that Eric Mangini may be the worst fit in a Holmgren led operation but to judge him on only one season isn’t fair. With the Browns planning on completely rebuilding in 2010 does it make more sense to start off with a fresh face or bring back the big man to get a second chance with an improved team? As a former coach Holmgren may have some sympathy on Mangini and allow him to stay on with the team to lead a new and improved squad with only a select corps of current players to build a new franchise. Holmgren, who has decided to hire a General Manager, will not be deciding on the issue until he and Mangini meet at season’s end.
Many say that the team is rallying around their coach and stepping it up in the final weeks of the season. But I would argue that the players are playing for their chance of staying with the franchise next season. Jerome Harrison has rushed for 434 yards in the past two games after barely playing at the beginning of the season.
The Browns, who hold 11 draft picks in the 2010 NFL Draft, were likely to draft a RB with a first day pick in response to Jamal Lewis’s retirement. But with Harrison’s recent tear will the Browns look to fill other positional needs on day one of the draft and wait to day two to get a supporting piece for Harrison? If the second scenario proves to be true, would you say Harrison picked up his game for his coach or would you say he did it to stay in the future picture of the organization? I lean toward the side of him doing it for his own interests.
The future of the Browns is more promising than the results of the past few years would lead you to believe. With Holmgren on board the franchise has responded to the issue that they were run poorly in the past years. There were bad draft selections and bad hires. They banked on building a winner with players like Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards and now those players are elsewhere. Holmgren has a chance to use the draft to build the nucleus of a winner.
Will he want to do it with a coach that he did not choose? Will Holmgren reach for a member of his coaching tree to build a new system with someone he is familiar with? That is the question Holmgren will deliberate on in the upcoming weeks. In some people’s opinion it would be best for the Browns to part ways with Mangini now rather than regret it 3 to 4 years from now if it did not work out. Mangini will land on his feet. He is young and will get more chances as the Head Coach of an NFL team. I would argue that Holmgren could give Mangini a one year trial and if he did not succeed he could hire a member of his coaching tree like Jon Gruden or promote defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
Either way the future is not bright for Mangini in Cleveland. He will forever be linked to the franchises breakdown and it may be in his best interests to step down before being fired and distance his name from the Browns reputation for mediocrity.