Browns Have Much to Do During Bye

Will a week off help revive the spiraling Browns? Jobs and careers may depend on it.

The Browns bye week got off to an unusual start Monday when general manager George Kokinis was fired after being on the job a little over nine months. The reason, according to coach Eric Mangini, who hand-picked Kokinis, is "things didn't work out."

The next day two roster spots opened up after kicker Billy Cundiff and defensive back Anthony Madison were waived. Since the Browns do not play again until Nov. 16 in a Monday night game against the Ravens, they are in no hurry to add players. Mangini is confident the front office can find the right players without Kokinis' help.

"We have a strong structure in place on both the pro side and the college side and things will continue to operate effectively on a day-to-day basis," Mangini said.

So the Browns have two projects to work on during the bye week as they pick up the pieces from a 1-7 start. The most important part is finding a replacement for Kokinis, but the more immediate concern is using the time off to self-scout, weed out what doesn't work, add plays that might be better for an offense ranked 31st in the league and make necessary lineup adjustments.

"We have point of attack tapes made on each guy, whether it (is) actual game tapes or practice tapes, where they can look at that individually to help them get a better feel for what they've done," Mangini said. "They can meet with their position coach, with the coordinator or me, where we can really share some time and I can give them my perspective on things. Just from my experience over the last three years (as Jets head coach), those meetings have been very valuable."

Mangini benched Derek Anderson with about three minutes left in the 30-6 loss to the Bears on Sunday. Brady Quinn took over and immediately he and Mohamed Massaquoi read a pass play differently. Massaquoi was running downfield with his back to Quinn when the Bears blitzed and Quinn threw the ball short, expecting Massaquoi to run a hot route. Had the throw been higher, the pass would have been intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Anderson's last play before Quinn took over was returned 21 yards for a touchdown.

Mangini said he remains undecided about his starting quarterback for the second half of the season. Quinn was 0-3 as a starter. Anderson is 1-4 and the lowest rated passer (36.2) in the league. He has thrown two touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

Safety is another area where Mangini might make a lineup change. Brodney Pool began the game in Chicago on the bench. Mike Adams started and Pool played in the nickel defense. Pool responded with five tackles and an interception.

As the Browns regroup, the defense is showing signs of improvement. Three Chicago drives ended in field goals and another was stopped on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line, but now that unit is being challenged because of injuries at inside linebacker.

D'Qwell Jackson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury Oct. 18 in Pittsburgh and now Eric Barton is battling a neck injury that could cause him to miss time if not the rest of the season.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Browns practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday and then were given the next four days off for the bye. They will report to the practice facility again the morning of Nov. 9.

--K Billy Cundiff hopes he revived his NFL career while subbing for injured Phil Dawson. Cundiff was 6-for-6 on field goal tries but was waived Tuesday because Dawson has recovered from the calf injury that sidelined him for five weeks.

--The Browns yielded 30 or more points four times in their first eight games. Last season they gave up 30 or more points five times and finished 4-12.

--Erin O'Brien, a personal assistant working for Eric Mangini, was fired last week. No explanation was given. The action was not reported by the team.

--Coach Eric Mangini said he is uncertain who will start at quarterback when the season resumes, but it won't be Brett Ratliff.

--The last time the Browns were 1-7 at the halfway point of the season was in the expansion year of 1999. That team lost its first seven games and then won two of its next three.

--A pair of rabid fans is trying to organize a "brownout" for the Monday night home game against the Ravens on Nov. 16. They want fans to attend the game but stay in the concourse in Cleveland Browns Stadium until after the opening kickoff and then file in wearing brown and orange to show team support on national television.

Fans of slumping teams have urged boycotts before, but this one is different. Browns owner Randy Lerner met with the organizers on Nov. 3 to hear their complaints. They presented Lerner with 2,000 emails from frustrated fans voicing concerns about the 1-7 Browns.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3.1 - Derek Anderson's passer rating in the fourth quarter. The next lowest is the Cardinals' Kurt Warner at 36.6.

NOTE TO QUOTE: "I feel like the organization is still intact. We have our captain of the ship. Eric Mangini is still running it." - Josh Cribbs on the firing of general manager George Kokinis.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

One change Eric Mangini won't make during the bye is offensive coordinator. He plans to stick with first-year coordinator Brian Daboll and continue to let him call plays. Daboll might get more input from veteran quarterback coach Carl Smith, however.

"I think there are things that we can improve offensively," Mangini said. "Carl Smith is a guy that has a lot of experience. That's one of the reasons I wanted Carl to be part of the staff -- I think it was 11 years at New Orleans as the offensive coordinator -- is to have a guy who's called a lot of plays in the NFL.

"Obviously there are things from a play calling perspective, from a scheme perspective, from a coaching perspective that we can improve, but that goes hand in hand with execution and individual performances as well."

The Browns have yet to get a touchdown from one of their wide receivers or a rushing touchdown by one of their running backs.

PLAYER NOTES

--LB Eric Barton did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday. He suffered a neck injury in the game against the Bears. Doctors are conducting tests to determine the severity of the injury.

--RB Jamal Lewis is healthy but did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday.

--K Billy Cundiff was released after kicking in five games. He was 6-for-6 on field goal tries, but he became expendable when Phil Dawson recovered from a calf injury.

--RB-KR Josh Cribbs might get more work at running back when the Browns return from their bye.

--WR Brian Robiskie, the 36th overall pick, has one catch through eight games.

INJURY IMPACT: The Browns will be scrambling for inside linebacker help if Eric Barton's neck injury knocks him out for the season. They already are without D'Qwell Jackson, who is out for the year with a shoulder injury. With two roster openings they might sign at least one inside linebacker. As it is, David Bowens and Blake Costanzo plus rookies Kaluka Maiava and David Veikune will play inside.


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