King: Bad Timing for Mangini

After a year of bad press and bad results, Eric Mangini's moment in the sun was eclipsed by the Holmgren story.

Timing is everything.

Or nothing.

Unfortunately so, the latter is true for Browns head coach Eric Mangini.

In a season where not a lot has gone right, he has had the shine taken off his – and his team's -- shining moment.

Nine days ago, the Browns got unquestionably their biggest win of 2009 – and one of the biggest they've had in ages in the expansion era – when they ended a 12-game, six-year losing streak against the arch rival Pittsburgh Steelers by defeating them 13-6 at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Instead of Steelers fans taking over Browns Stadium, as had been feared would happen if Pittsburgh won, the Browns took over the Steelers offensive line by sacking Ben Roethlisberger eight times, the club's most sacks ever against Pittsburgh.

Browns fans celebrated all weekend as if it were a three-day New Year's Eve. People broke out their Browns gear and proudly wore it after having had it in moth balls for much of the year.

Heck, even Mangini, who, like a typical coach, hardly ever allows himself the chance to enjoy the spoils, said proudly that he celebrated the victory, too.

The hoopla continued even into Monday. No back-to-work Monday blues this week in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

But then came Tuesday, and if you're Mangini and the Browns, it could be called Black Tuesday. By mid-morning, the news had broken that Mike Holmgren was in town interviewing with the Browns for their football czar position, and immediately, the news of the Steelers win became as stale as week-old bread.

Even as significant as it was, nobody cared anymore about a victory in a season that had gone down the tubes long before Halloween. Rather, their focus was on the future and who – Holmgren or whomever – was going to be brought in to get this struggling franchise back on track.

So it didn't just rain on Mangini's parade. It flooded it out.

Yes, that was indeed an ark you just saw floating down Lou Groza Boulevard, headed for Downtown Cleveland.

As such, well over 90 percent of the questions posed to Mangini during his three daily press conferences Wednesday through Friday centered on the Holmgren situation.

How would Mangini feel about Holmgren coming on board – whoops, bad choice of words – getting hired here?

Could he get along with Holmgren?

Does he think Holmgren would fire him?

How would he try to sell himself to Holmgren so as to save his job, if it came to that?

Did he get a chance to meet Holmgren when he was in town?

And if so, what did he think of him?

What did they talk about?

On and on the line of questioning went, and if media members weren't asking Mangini about Holmgren, then they were asking him about his job status, and security.

Beating the Steelers? Oh, yeah, that was nice, but …

At the end of his Friday presser, Mangini was asked if the timing of the Holmgren was disappointing?

"You face different things that could potentially be distractions, and we've faced a bunch throughout the course of the year," he said. "It doesn't change the guys in the (locker) room. It doesn't change the coaching staff.

"It's hard to talk about the importance of focus and concentration and working at the task at hand and then allow yourself to be distracted by something like that.  It's not fair to the coaches. It's not fair to the players. It's not fair for anybody in that group to do it because there have been so many positive things.

"That'll continue to happen as long as we take the lessons that we've learned and apply them to the next week. Once you take a step back, you could move backwards."

Mangini said during his presser that it is his policy to step back from the job after the final game to let things settle before analyzing the season, thus lessening the chance to make rash, impulsive decisions on personnel, schemes, etc. Does he hope that Holmgren – or whomever – would do the same when evaluating him and his staff?

"I really do believe that anybody with a wealth of experience, especially if they've had coaching experience, understands the different components that go into it (looking at a season)," Mangini said. "There have been a lot of really talented coaches that haven't had good seasons. That sometimes happens, and you have to look at it in a lot of different ways.

"Going through that in different places as an assistant, whether it be DBs (defensive backs) or a coordinator, whatever it is, you get different perspectives on it. I know as a head coach when I first got the job, there were times where I'd sit in that seat going, ‘God, I understand exactly why Bill (Parcells) and Bill (Belichick) did this. That never made sense to me, but now I get it.'

"I call those guys up sometimes and be like, ‘I get it. I'm sorry. I complained about this. I completely understand why you did what you did.'  Sometimes when you look at the world through your lens, that's the only evaluation that you make, but when the lens softens and you look at the other situations involved, it's different.

"It's kind of like becoming a parent. I say some things that my dad says or my mom used to say and it's like, ‘Oh, my God, I can't believe I just said that.'  It just changes, because you learn and you experience things. It's a good part of the process.

"They always chuckle when you call them, too. Bill Parcells, he'd go, ‘Oh, it's not all it's cracked up to be, is it, Eric?'  ‘Yeah, Bill.' "

And, with the way it turned out after the breaking news concerning Mike Holmgren, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers wasn't all that it was cracked up to be, either, especially for Eric Mangini.

That doesn't seem fair, or right.

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