King: Quick Thoughts from a Slow Mind

Two cold, snowy, dismal home games in the month of December may doom Mangini unless fortune changes. Will empty chairs seal the fate of the Browns head coach?

Some quick thoughts on the Browns from a slow mind…

Unless something drastic happens, such as the Browns catching fire and winning at least five of their last eight games, head coach Eric Mangini will likely be fired at the end of the year.

But the Browns, who are getting worse instead of better with each passing week, have absolutely no chance to do that well, which means Mangini will almost certainly be gone.

Is this disaster of a season all Mangini's fault? No, of course not. But a lot of the blame can be laid directly at his feet.

To his credit, owner Randy Lerner seems set on letting Mangini finish the season and then will make a determination, believing that every new coach needs at least a year to get his program installed before any judgment is rendered. That's fair. But there's no indication that anything is going to change, and if Lerner made a decision now based on what's taken place in the first half of the year, then he'd have no alternative but to let Mangini go.

In fact, this season of pure misery can't get over fast enough, for no meaningful change can be implemented until the offseason, when the games are out of the way. And, rest assured, there will be plenty of change both on the field and off it before 2010.

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Follow the trail of money and you'll find the answer to every question in the world. And so it will be with Mangini's fate.

In those last two games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders, the Browns face opponents that aren't very good and have no local appeal. To make matters worse, the weather will likely be bad. All that, coupled with the poor economy, will mean, embarrassingly, that there will be more fans dressed as empty orange seats than at any time in the history of Cleveland Browns Stadium. That will take money – and lots of it – out of Lerner's pocket, which gets the attention of wealthy men.

If the owner still isn't sure about Mangini at that point – and we see no reason why his fate wouldn't be sealed – then the final nails will be pounded into the coffin.

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Fire the coach and start again? Not the way you want to do it.

But if you're certain you're off track, then each step you take and each day that goes by gets you further and further away from where you need to go.

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As tough as it will be to blow up the team and have to wait who knows how long for a new coach to institute his people and program, it will be even harder – and much more time-consuming -- to have to sit through the maturation process of a new young quarterback.

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Here's really believing that somehow, some way, Lerner will get it right this time with his hiring of a new coach, a new general manager and a new president of football operations. He cares – really cares – about this team and wants badly to get it right, which counts for a lot.

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Speaking of that, is there any way in the world that Mangini announces on Wednesday that it will be not Brady Quinn, but Derek Anderson, starting at quarterback in Monday night's game against the Baltimore Ravens? Anderson has been historically bad. He is what he is. He won't get any better. He's proven that. Is Quinn the answer? No one knows. But that chance still exists with him, so the Browns should just put him in there and leave him alone the rest of the year. Come on, this offense can't get any worse than it has been under Anderson. Just as is the case with Mangini, not all of the problems are Anderson's fault. But a lot of them are, and that's enough – more than enough, in fact – to make a change.

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We'll keep saying this again and again because it's right, but if the Browns offense improves, then the entire team, including the defense, will improve. The defense isn't great, but it's sure not as bad as the offense has made it look by putting it back out onto the field time and time and time again, causing all kinds of fatigue problems.

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Say what you want about his salty language, but defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's Friday sessions with the media are the highlight of every week. He's open, honest and passionate. Browns fans like that. And right now, there is no one else in the organization who can, or is willing, to espouse a message.

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Do you know what is really bothersome? The fact that from the very start in this expansion era, the Browns have tried to be everyone else but themselves. Under the first head coach, Chris Palmer, there was a strong San Francisco 49ers flavor. Under Butch Davis, the Browns were the Miami Hurricanes. Under Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage, the team was a combination of the New England Patriots and Ravens. And now under Mangini, the Browns are the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets! How about being just the Browns? Isn't that good enough?

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Despite what he's said and keeps saying, there's no way that running back Jamal Lewis went into 2009 with his mind already made up that this was going to be his last season. He's not retiring because he wants to run his businesses. He'd rather be running the ball. He's retiring because the Browns have no direction, no chemistry and no plan. Lewis still has a year left on his contract, and whoever is coaching and/or running the Browns next season should try to convince him to come back. He still has a lot to offer both on and off the field. He's one of the really good guys – a guy you want with you if you have to fight your way out of a back alley. He'll give you everything he's got.

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How odd is it that the Browns have probably their worst team overall in a season when they likely have the best special teams they've ever had? If the rest of the club was as good as the special teams, then the Browns would finish 12-4.

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And finally, can we please – pretty please – get rid of those god-awful brown pants the Browns wear at all road games? There's only one thing worse than suffering through this nightmare of a season, and it's having to do so while watching the Browns play in those brown pants. It's hard to tell which is uglier, actually, the Browns' play or those brown pants. Quit messing with the uniform. It doesn't need changed. It's a classic look – one of sport's best. Instead of spinning your wheels on changing the pants, how about using that time to make the team better? I know that's a radical thought, but I'm stickin' with it.   

 

 


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