Q: Alright, Lane... who do you think is to blame for the state of the Browns? Everyone else seems to blame Mangini for everything.
LA: You have to look no further than the team owner and the head coach. Randy Lerner hired Eric Mangini and George Kokinis, so the issue of filling the roles with these two men falls squarely on the shoulders of the owner.
While the reports on Kokinis' demise are somewhat skewed, Mangini ultimately is responsible for the on-field product, as well as the majority of personnel moves putting this set of players on the team roster.
At 1-7, the negativity surrounding the team should be expected and the media has done quite a job of keeping the 'everything negative' approach toward the head coach in effect.
Q: Mangini runs the Browns, and they fire the GM? They sent the wrong guy packing..... why hasn't Lerner fired Mangini? The Browns are an embarrassment.
LA: There really is no defense for the head coach and this team at the present time. If this team was 1-7 but competitive and progressing, it would be much easier to find a silver lining to the 2009 season.
With all the issues this organization and team has faced this season, terminating Mangini could be warranted. I sense the team owner still seeks stability and wants to provide the head coach every opportunity to finish what he started -- at least for the 2009 season.
In most cases, it takes more than one season for a head coach to build a competitive unit. I believe once an experienced football voice is gained, the authority Mangini has within the structure of the organization will be pulled back and his time in Cleveland could be short.
Q: With eight games remaining in the 2009 season, what are the chances this team goes 4-4 and performs much better? If competitive, could this be a sign that the team is responding to the head coach and he should continue onto the 2010 season?
LA: I would like to see the team show the type of improvement you note. Looking at the schedule heading down the home-stretch, the Browns have an opportunity to win a couple games, if there is improvement.
Now, if this team goes 4-4 and displays improvement, which would be obvious considering the state of affairs presently, credit must be given to the head coach and players.
Right now, I don't expect this to occur and anticipate the arrival of a viable front office presence to evaluate the entire football side of the organization -- including the head coach. At this rate, I believe Mangini is going to need a miracle to remain head coach of this team.
Q: It appears due to reports that Mike Holmgren is likely to be the next leader of the Cleveland Browns. If this is indeed the case, why hasn't Lerner hired him already? He could get the process started of evaluating the team and firing the head coach?
LA: Mike Holmgren is a candidate, as are numerous others. While Lerner likes and is extremely intrigued by Holmgren, he is not the slam-dunk some would portray him to be. If it were that simple, the hire would be made and the process would be on its way.
I'd rather see Lerner conduct an extensive process, making sure he interviews all the viable candidates and make a reasonable decision after looking at all the options.
This is one significant move for the organization that Lerner cannot simply cast aside by falling for one candidate without exploring all the potential options.
Q: Recently there have been reports about fighting in the locker room between players and between players and coaches. If that's true, how can the team owner continue to let Mangini "lead" this team?
LA: This topic has arisen in the OBR's "Ask the Insiders" forum on a few occasions.
While there has been some heated discussion between the players and the players and coaches, I've been told the confrontations have not been of the physical nature.
This isn't to say there hasn't been a desire for those involved to go at it between themselves -- it just hasn't materialized at this time, but the potential remains in place that it could occur.
As for the team owner, I am of the belief he wants to exhaust every opportunity for the head coach to shine before kicking the door closed on him.