Taylor's Tales From the Notebook

In the beginning of the season everything was going wrong. Our pets' heads were falling off. But then things got better, and the Shaggin' Wagon started rolling. And now maybe there's a chance...

-- Regardless of what happens over the next 48-72 hours, nobody can take away what Eric Mangini and his football team accomplished over the last quarter of the season.  Nobody.  They went from a team that wasn't worthy of a spot in Div. III football – the OHSAA version – to being a bona fide NFL team that left its fans with some hope for the future.

-- Four wins to close out the season?  Ridiculously unexpected.  And, again, I don't want to hear the whole "level of competition" argument.  For one, this winning streak was bookended by a team very much in the playoff hunt – the Pittsburgh Steelers – and a team with a mathematical shot at the playoffs – the Jacksonville Jaguars.  For two, do you remember the first ten or so games?  The Browns were the "level of competition" that other cities would normally be talking about right about now in this very situation.

-- After some – understatement alert! -- major growing pains, some short-term sacrifices that were meant to payoff long term, this team finally bought into what Mangini was attempting to sell all along.  To his credit, Mangini stuck to what he knew and what he wanted to accomplish – all with the long-term view at the forefront.  To their credit, his players realized that their coach is not simply a non-caring ogre whose sole goal in life is to make anyone and everyone associated with the organization miserable.  Instead, his players realized, it finally clicked, that maybe there was some method, some process, to the perceived madness that Mangini was putting them through.

-- Now, regarding Mangini's future.  Based on chatter in recent days, I wouldn't go out on a limb and buy green bananas if I were the coach.  While no decision has been made on Mangini's fate – that should come either Monday or Tuesday, maybe Wednesday – it seems, based on conversations over the past 48 hours, that there is a definite lean to the new president's thinking.  And it's not a lean that would fall in favor of another season to build on this late-season momentum.

-- And, personally, I think it will be a shame if Mangini does not get to continue working with what he's built in less than a year in Cleveland.  Not a crime, mind you, but a shame nonetheless.  Whether he does or doesn't, he should get another one.  And maybe, just maybe, he will…

-- That being said, Mangini still has a chance.  It might wake up the echoes of Lloyd Christmas' "so you're telling me there's still a chance", but it's a chance nonetheless.  He will meet with Mike Holmgren in Cleveland early this coming week, and I would in no way be stunned beyond belief if he comes out of the upcoming meetings with another year to prove his worth to the new regime.  Surprised? Yeah, somewhat mildly, but definitely not stunned to any degree.

-- Why would I not be stunned, given the spate of reports in recent weeks that Mangini's fate has been sealed in the mind of Holmgren?  Because, as we've been telling you all along, the current coach's fate hasn't been sealed in the mind of Holmgren.

-- It's January 3, 2010.  Do you know where the new contract is for the best football player on your team?  Just pay the man and get it over with, Mike Holmgren.  Don't allow this to play out any longer, certainly not more than a week or two after you officially take over on Monday.

-- I get all tingly inside when I think about Jerome Harrison as the feature back in a West Coast-style offense.  If it weren't somewhat gayish – not that there's anything wrong with being somewhat gayish.  Or even full-blown gayish. – I'd say that I'm downright giddy over what Harrison could do in that type of offense.

-- To answer your question, yes, I'm fully aware of the fact that "gayish" is not one of those so-called "real" words.  I ain't never claimed to be a thespian.  Not that there's anything wrong with being thespian, either.

-- To dovetail off Harrison, it's absolutely criminal that Lawrence Vickers is not in the Pro Bowl.  The past two seasons, Vickers has been one of the best – if not the best – at his position, and has nothing to show for it.  He's another one, though, who I can't wait to see in the WCO.

-- Way back on Oct. 25, I wrote the following:

Let me say this right now when it comes to the state of the Browns' QB position: I will personally punch anyone in the face who suggests that this team should select Sam Bradford in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft.; Or Colt McCoy; Or Jake Locker.  Or any other dolt that will make up next year's QB class.

Given the fact that Holmgren is now in play – the WCO is now in play – I may have to personally punch myself in the face because I think at least one of those dolts – McCoy -- would be a very intriguing prospect for this team in the kind of offense Holmgren will bring in and institute.  He has more than the requisite accuracy for this type of offense, and his arm is more than strong enough for the way I think this team will scheme on that side of the football.

-- Oh, and I'm far from giving up on Brady Quinn, either.  It's just that McCoy in the WCO is something that has caught my attention.  I'm not even remotely sold on someone like McCoy, but I'm more open-minded than I was two months ago.

-- Quinn in the WCO?  That has me intrigued as well, if for nothing more than the fact that it would allow the organization to snag a difference maker on the defensive side of the ball.  And I think that Quinn could be really, really good with a Holmgren aura added to the organization.

-- Regardless of who lines up under center in 2010, there is a dire need at the wide receiver position.  Mohamed Massaquoi is OK for now, this season, but, dayum, that position needs to be addressed in the offseason. 

-- Following Derek Anderson's second-quarter interception, Mangini summed up my feelings about DA's four seasons in Cleveland: "Sh-t.  C'mon," he mouthed.  Yep, couldn't have said it any better myself, coach.

-- Here's one thing I've noticed this season: whenever there's a third-down reception by the opposition – one that has me yelling "WTF!!!" or some derivative thereof at the TV screen – invariably Hank Poteat is involved in some way, shape or form.  Not to get all technical on you, but I believe the proper football terminology for that is "sucking ass".

-- That last touchdown by Jacksonville?  Yep, another Poteat sighting.  See, told ya.


-- I SAW MY… sorry… I saw my golf clubs today.  I really miss golfing.  I really wish I hadn't seen my golf clubs today.

-- Here's hoping that Mangini gets another season.  Don't think it will happen, but, again, it should.

-- If it were to be his final game, Mangini can and should hold his head high as he exits for what he's done in the 11 months he's been a part – the part – of this organization.  Missteps?  Yep.  Would he leave this organization in a better place than when he took over?  Yep.

-- Good luck, Coach Mangini.  Whatever course the next 2-3 days take.

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