King: Where's the "New Coach Bump"?

Steve King looks at the now-expected instant improvement with new coaches. Is it a real phenomenon?

As difficult as it's been for the Browns thus far, there are some historic red flags to indicate it could get worse before it gets better.

It comes with the fact the Browns are 0-2 in head coach Eric Mangini's first year. That's a real rarity for first-year, full-time Browns head coaches.

Throw Chris Palmer out of the mix because he, in essence, was following no one as he took over an expansion club in 1999. When you do that, you see that the Browns, with the exception of Forrest Gregg in 1975, have always gotten an immediate and often times even pronounced bump when they've made a full-time coaching change. A new face at the top brings enthusiasm, a fresh start and rejuvenation among the players.

But that's not been the case to this point with Mangini's Browns. They've not just lost but have been non-competitive overall, especially in the second half and offensively, in both games, falling 34-20 to the Minnesota Vikings in the opener last week and then 27-6 to the Denver Broncos on Sunday. This is a tenuous start, to say the least.

But as mentioned, it hasn't always been way, though.

Despite the fact he was following Paul Brown, a true legend – the man regarded as the father of modern football – when he was promoted to the head coaching job in 1963, Blanton Collier directed the Browns to six straight wins to open the year. The club, which had been just 7-6-1 in 1962 for Brown's second-worst mark in Cleveland, finished 10-4 and came within a game of winning the Eastern Conference title and advancing to the NFL Championship Game.

The 1970 Browns fell off to just 7-7 in Collier's last year before he retired. Assistant coach Nick Skorich was elevated to the position and led the club to two opening triumphs, a 4-1 start and an eventual 9-5 finish, good enough to win the title in the AFC Central's second year of existence.

Gregg, the former Browns offensive line coach who assumed a team that had finished 4-10 in 1974, got off to the worst start in franchise history, 0-9, before going 3-2 down the stretch for a 3-11 finish.

The following year, the Browns went 9-5 and narrowly missed the playoffs, a six-win turnaround that earned Gregg the 1976 AFC Coach of the Year award.

Gregg got fired with one game left in 1977 and the Browns on their way to a 6-8 finish after starting 5-2. On came Sam Rutigliano. His first team won its opening three games and had a 4-2 mark en route to going 8-8 and being eliminated from the playoff race on the final weekend of the regular season.

Rutigliano was fired midway through the 1984 season with the Browns, who had been picked to win the division, off to a nightmarish 1-7 start. Defensive coordinator Marty Schottenheimer took over and righted the ship for a 4-4 finish on the way to a 5-11 finish.

In Schottenheimer's first full year in 1985, the Browns got off to a 4-2 start and went 8-8 to win the division.

Schottenheimer resigned or was fired, depending on what or who you believe, following the 1988 season, when the Browns went 10-6 and made the playoffs after having their quarterback position ravaged by injuries. Bud Carson was hired, and in his first game in 1989, the Browns won in Pittsburgh 51-0 and dealt the Steelers the most lopsided loss in their history. In fact, they won their next one as well, and were 3-1 and 7-3, before finishing 9-6-1 and capturing the division crown and making it to the AFC Championship Game.

Carson was fired just past the midway point in 1990 with the Browns at 2-7. After offensive coordinator Jim Shofner took over on an interim basis and finished out a 3-13 season, Bill Belichhick was hired for 1991. His Browns won two of their first three and were 6-7 and hanging in the wild-card playoff chase before fading down the stretch to a 6-10 finish.

Palmer was fired after the 2000 Browns went 3-13. His replacement, Butch Davis, got the following year's Browns off to a 3-1 start and they were still 6-4 and holding onto the last wild-card playoff spot before struggling to a 7-9 finish. The next season, the Browns went 9-7 and made their only playoff appearance of the expansion era.

Davis resigned with five games left in 2004 and the Browns at 3-8 and on the way to a 4-12 finish. Romeo Crennel took over in 2005 and started 2-2, but the club faded and went 6-10.

So without Mangini's team getting that immediate bump, you have to wonder when – or if – it will come. The Browns obviously hope it's soon.

The Jets got a bump in 2006 in Mangini's first year as their coach. He took over for Herm Edwards, who was fired following a 4-12 finish in 2005. Mangini's first team started 2-1 and then 4-3 before really getting it together down the stretch to finish 10-6 and make the playoffs as a wild card.

The Browns would have to pick it up considerably to go 10-6 this year. Right now, though, a reverse of that, at 6-10, looks good, but only if the bump eventually comes at some point.

And if not, then this season – record-wise and in terms of the fans trying to endure it -- will end up being even more difficult than it already has been.


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