Mangini Hopes Late Flurry is Enough

Eric Mangini couldn't ask for a better end to the season - but will it be enough?

On a day when there were plenty of flurries, Browns head coach Eric Mangini delivered a lot of his own.

A flurry of punches, that is, all of which landed.

After spending the first three-fourths of the season on the ropes, just trying to survive and avoid getting knocked out while being pummeled with poor play and controversy, Mangini finally delivered a lot of counter-punches in these last four rounds – er, games.

Did he score enough down the stretch to overcome what happened early, and win on points?

That's to be determined when new Browns president Mike Holmgren begins work on Monday and does an assessment of the organization from top to bottom, no doubt beginning with Mangini.
Holmgren said in a conference call with the Cleveland media last Monday that he had not made a decision on Mangini, and if he was being honest – and there's no reason to believe otherwise – then the current coach made it very hard on the former coach to fire him after just one year on the job.

Sunday night could be sleepless in Seattle – or Phoenix or whichever of his homes the former Seahawks coach has been staying recently.

In Greater Cleveland, though, Mangini indicated he would sleep well after the Browns captured four in a row for the first time since 1994 with a 23-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium to close out their year at 5-11, a one-win improvement over 2008.

"What happens now is I'm going to go home," the coach – the current one – said. "I'm going to play with the boys (sons Jake, Luke and Zack). We're going to have a great night. They probably don't even know the score -- Jake might. I'll come in, we'll meet with the fellas tomorrow at 10, then I assume meet with you guys (the media) again and we'll see what happens."

To see if he stays or goes.

He knows he can't control that now.

"I love the Cleveland Browns," Mangini said. "The coaches love being here. Like I said, I didn't come in here for one year. I never viewed it that way.

"I understand that anybody who comes in has the right to make whatever decisions they make, and I respect that because I've been in that position myself. You have to do what you think is best when you have that position. I would never begrudge anybody for making the decisions they think are best for the organization.

"I can just tell you how I feel -- how I feel about this team, how I feel about the things that we're committed to, the types of people that we're committed to. I had the benefit of being here before. Getting to know guys like Jim Brown and Bernie Kosar and what special people they are.

"That's how this organization should be built, with special people, with players that are committed to the right things, players that when they go out on Sunday, everybody who's either at the stadium or watching on TV, they're proud of. They're excited their kids are wearing those jerseys, because they stand for something. They stand for something deeper than just touchdowns. They're good people that work hard that are committed to the right things."

Mangini was part of three Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots, but other than, the progress the Browns made this year after a 1-11 start is about as proud of a moment as he's had in coaching.

"It's right up there" he said. "It's satisfying to watch. To see guys learn and to see them grow and develop, whether it's guys with a bunch of years or young guys like (Mohamed) Massaquoi and Alex Mack and (Brian) Robiskie and that group, who are going to have nice careers for a long time, it's really satisfying."

Holmgren said in the conference call that while the late-season surge is nice, he wants to look at the team's whole body of work this season to find progress.

"I'm proud of my body of work," he said.

Warts and all.

"I knew there were short-term sacrifices that had to be made for the good of both the long term and for us to be able to make progress as we went along," Mangini said. "That's always been my approach. The decisions that were made were made with that in mind, in building the strongest possible organization that is built for the long term.

"It's not something that happens overnight. It's not something that happens in six games or 11 games or even 16 games. You build and that takes hard work and effort and time. I think that we did a lot of good things. We beat the Steelers, won four games in a row, the first time of the expansion era, broke a lot of records and showed a lot of character, and that's what you're looking for.

"I'm proud of it. I'm not hiding from the mishaps that we had this year, or the things that we didn't do every well. There are some things I wish I could have done better and we could have done better."

The Browns did indeed make progress – lots of it.

Now, did they make enough progress to suit Holmgren? Nobody knows.

But as the flurries increased as day turned to night – just as Mangini's flurries increased as day turned to night in this season – the coach went home knowing that he won't have to snow the boss to have an even shake to keep his job.

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