Browns-Broncos: Battle of the Proteges

Can either Josh McDaniels or Eric Mangini match up to their mentor? Scout.com analyzes the career paths of two ex-Patriots coaches...

A clash of Bill Belichick proteges is set for Sunday when Eric Mangini takes his Browns to Denver to face the Broncos and their new coach, Josh McDaniels.

Mangini was a Patriots assistant under Belichick from 2000-2005. McDaniels coached under Belichick in New England from 2001-2008.

Mangini has such respect for Belichick he named his second son Luke William Mangini, yet it would be fine with him if he were never referred to as a Belichick clone again.

"It's like anything else," Mangini said. "The most important thing to do is to be yourself and that's who I felt I always was.

"There is no handbook as to how to be a head coach. I've had some great mentors, I worked under Bill for a long time, and I worked under Bill Parcells for a long time. They were my football parents. To my kids sometimes I say things that my dad said, but the important thing is to be the best coach you can be, the best father you can be and learn from all those experiences and grow and move forward."

From the day he took over the Browns in January after being fired by the Jets at the end of 2008, Mangini has emphasized discipline. One form of that teaching comes in making players run laps for committing penalties or putting the ball on the ground in practice.

One game won't define a coach, but in the season opener against the Vikings, a 34-20 loss, the Browns looked a lot like last year's version. Brady Quinn committed two turnovers and the Browns committed six penalties in the second half.

Kenyon Coleman, one of three former Jets acquired in a draft-day trade, said Mangini is the same with the Browns as he was in New York.

"One thing about Eric is he's consistent," said Coleman, who played for Mangini with the Jets in 2007-08 before being traded to the Browns on the first day of the April draft. "He's going to be the same dude every day.

"A lot of coaches have been disciplined coaches. Eric comes from that family tree with Parcells. In the NFL, everyone wants a quick fix. But this is football. To have success, it would be impossible not to have discipline. You trust the history."

Browns owner Randy Lerner said he knew from the beginning Mangini was the one he wanted. One day after firing Romeo Crennel and one day after the Jets fired Mangini, Lerner met face to face with Mangini and became convinced Mangini would restore order to the Browns.

LINEUP WATCH: The Browns could have a serious problem at running back with 15 games left. Rookie James Davis was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter and did not return. Jerome Harrison was inactive with a knee injury and Cedric Peerman was inactive with a thigh injury. That leaves Jamal Lewis the only healthy running back.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 - The Browns sacked Brett Favre four times. They had 17 sacks all of 2008.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

-- K Phil Dawson kicked field goals of 37 and 20 yards. He has scored 903 points in 10-plus seasons with the Browns.

-- PR Josh Cribbs scored on a 67-yard punt return. He now has scored touchdowns on seven returns - five kick returns and two punt returns - tying him with Eric Metcalf for the franchise record.

-- RB Jamal Lewis made the most of his opportunities. He carried 11 times for 57 yards, a 5.2 average.

-- TE Robert Royal, trying to replace Kellen Winslow Jr., caught four passes for 60 yards. One was a 26-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds left. It was the Browns' first offensive touchdown since Nov. 17.

-- FS Brodney Pool, after getting just one sack last year, matched that by sacking Brett Favre.


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