Eric Mangini, in the middle of conducting his first training camp as head coach of the Browns, could be depending on the past while molding his current team into a competitive unit in the future.
A man of few words, Mangini's work on the Browns heading into the 2009 season is of great interest to all followers. However, his early success may ultimately ride on the high-profile moves his predecessor made.
Each player arrived in Cleveland with high expectations. Coming off a 10-6 season in 2007, the 2008 season was one which the Browns were expected to be a legitimate contender. Injuries, however, began to mount and the team never recovered.
Only Quinn was on that roster during that 2007 season; Rogers and Williams were added prior to the following season to help take the team to the next level.
Of the three players, only Rogers positively factored into what quickly became a disappointing 2008 season.
Rogers performed well. Well enough in fact to be recognized as one of the premier defensive linemen in the game. In spite of Rogers' solid play, the Browns were ranked near the bottom of the league in run defense and quarterback sacks.
Williams was a non-factor throughout the 2008 season. Injuring a shoulder in training camp, Williams was relegated to playing the game basically with one serviceable arm. New to the 3-4 defense and injured, Williams played, but provided little productivity.
Teaming with Rogers and former New York Jets defensive end Kenyon Coleman, Williams is in position to be the player the team traded for a year ago. Quick and strong at the point of attack, a new defensive scheme in Cleveland enables players such as Williams to utilize and maximize his physical qualities, rather than being molded into a player he isn't.
As for Quinn, with Derek Anderson coming off an unexpectedly successful 2007 season, the Notre Dome product was relegated to the sidelines for the start of '08.
As was the case often during the Phil Savage/Romeo Crennel era, indecision reigned supreme. Quinn, a former first round draft selection, was expected to be the Browns QB by this time. The debate between Savage and Crennel ultimately led to Quinn riding the bench, only to be thrown into the fire as the 2008 season was quickly getting away from the team.
As quickly as Quinn got onto the field, he was back off it for the season after breaking a finger that required surgery to reattach a tendon.
While the results were mixed in Quinn's brief three game stretch as a starter, the tone was set heading into the 2009 season. Crennel named Quinn his starter -- but when Crennel and Savage were fired following the season, Quinn was again poised to compete for the starting job.
With Mangini at the helm, things are going to be a little different. Mangini has no ties to players on this roster, except for those he secured in free agency once named head coach of the Browns.
Gone are the preconceived notions that player X can play and player Y doesn't show up well on the practice field.
Mangini puts players into situations, whether it be a simulated game situation or a drill to see how a player reacts. This head coach doesn't play favorites and veterans and rookies alike practice everyday; gone are the days of veteran players sitting out sessions.
Rogers and Williams are players based on raw strength and quickness and, rather than fitting a square peg into a round hole, Mangini's plan along with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is to turn the duo loose.
What a novel concept.
As for Brady Quinn, he is beginning to show he can excel when put in position to manage the team on the field in simulated game situations. When the young QB is provided the opportunity to make decisions on the fly, he tends to be increasingly productive.
Now, Mangini discusses the potential to run the no-huddle offense more often, which would fall in line with the strengths of his young signal-caller.
Another novel concept.
Really, you can't complain about the team's direction, as Mangini does appear to get it.