Adkins: It's the Damnedest Thing...

Lane Adkins offers his take on the reasons underlying the team's poor start, and what's next now that the QB change has happened...

We get it. A 0-3 start to the season and the head coach should be fired. Sounds like every other football season in Cleveland.

Undoubtedly, Eric Mangini is at the root of many issues with this Browns team and he does not shy away from the troubles. In time, this organization may be a success under Mangini due to his undying commitment to the game and his job, but time could also be against the head coach if the embarrassment continues.

Walking into a situation such as existed in Cleveland -- questionable talent and depth and a less-than-disciplined and detail-oriented organization -- Mangini knew the task would be difficult.

While Mangini's extreme dedication to discipline has created some undesired circumstances in the locker room, it may be his inability or lack of desire in being a communicator that hurts this team most in a time of need.

But Mangini's actions in the second half of the Browns loss to the Ravens in benching the QB, as well as naming Derek Anderson the starter against the Bengals, may be his communication tool.

Undoubtedly, players within the ranks have become skeptical. Not only about the head coach, but the offense led by Brady Quinn. Players watch game film, players talk and, despite claims they will play for either QB, there always is some bias.

For Mangini, changing the culture and the perception of this organization is a monumental task and one which will not be accomplished overnight.

Despite how poorly this Browns team has played, Mangini needs time to make changes, not only to the player roster, but to the overall perception of Browns football.

With each passing week, the overall performance of the team has declined. This Browns team does not look the part of laying it all out there for the head coach, as evidenced by the lack of sustained fundamental effort and achievement.

Following reports of player issues, resulting in fines and potential grievances against Mangini by the players union, these actions, or lack of common respect, appear to have created a negative effect on this team.

This is something Mangini is not shielded from, as grievance issues existed while he was the head coach of the Jets.

Now with the team headed to the crossroads, Mangini must now prove why he is the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

At a time such as this, it doesn't matter that Mangini was on a successful, Super Bowl-winning coaching staff in New England under Bill Belichick, nor does it matter than he was relatively successful as head coach of the New York Jets.

The NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league; this is the league of extraordinary gentlemen. It's all about winning and generating revenue. Those days of loyalty are long gone, despite Mangini's own excitement about being named the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Yes, those Cleveland Browns, rich in tradition -- tradition not felt for the better part of two decades. 

This weekend in Cleveland, the Browns are home in front of a fan base discouraged beyond belief as to the start of the season.

Mangini's recent actions -- benching the QB, putting reins on the defense -- appear to be made out of desperation. This coming from a head coach that preaches consistency, patience and excellence.

Defense? It's where Mangini hangs his hat in the NFL, yet that side of the ball has played some of the poorest fundamental football in the league this season. Training camp produced plenty of physical contact with an emphasis on technique and tackling but the team has utterly failed to utilize those lessons.

Yes, something is terribly wrong in Cleveland and the effort and execution by this team has proven that there are issues residing inside the Browns' training facility in Berea, Ohio.

It's called respect and belief, or lack thereof.

Respect is earned in this game, not simply handed over. In Cleveland, there is not respect between the head coach and players, it's fear. Nobody wants to make a mistake, and no player enjoys being screamed at or ridiculed.

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For as bad as the defense has been in the second half of games against the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos and throughout the game against the Baltimore Ravens, there is yet a worsening scenario being played out in Cleveland.

As the offense wallowed in despair in Baltimore on Sunday, Mangini pulled the starting QB. Not that the QB did not deserve to be benched, but the message sent by the head coach is one which may haunt him for weeks to come.

Quinn was Mangini's choice. It was Mangini's QB competition, he had to make a choice and we'll never know exactly how close the race was.  But one thing can be said: neither QB in the competition grasped the role.

That fact alone raised red flags heading into the season.

But these issues shouldn't solely fall on Quinn shoulders; there are plenty of variables included in the equation as to why this offense is poorly constructed.

Do not think for a second Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll did not have a hand in the failures.  Daboll is indeed the coordinator, and he's been in New England and New York in various roles, but never an offensive coordinator.

Throwing a QB into the mix without a running game, poor protection along the right side of the offensive line, and a rookie coordinator is a recipe for disaster. In some cases, the young QB is reeled in rather than allowing him to play freely. If a QB does not play with confidence, what is the point? This is where an experienced offensive coordinator is needed.

Still, the play-calling has not been the root of all the offense's evil. The lack of execution by many facets of this unit have been the cause of the downfall.

Granted, Quinn has made his fair share of mistakes. He still checks down too quickly, his accuracy issues remain a problem and he has simply not played with confidence -- neither in himself nor the players surrounding him.

Whether Quinn or Anderson are under center, the execution has to improve. Any good offense fires on all cylinders; some of this came to light upon Anderson's entrance into the game in Baltimore.

Then, as promising as things may have seemed at times in the second half, Anderson was again the player he has become known to be, a turnover-prone QB in an offensive system built on ball control and minimal mistakes.

Okay, Game Four coming up against the Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Cleveland Browns Stadium and another opportunity to show some progress and development.

It's all on you Eric.

Maybe the time is right to do away with the strictly-my-way mentality; you're not Sinatra. Turn this team loose -- you may find that is all the players in your locker room are looking for from you. 

One and done serves no purpose and certainly provides further insecurity for this organization. The man knows football; maybe he just needs to know those playing for him a little better.


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