Mangenius Interrupted: An Institutional Failure in Five Acts (Vol. 1)

by Cleveland Frowns on January 4, 2011

Before we get into further details of Mike Holmgren’s depressing press conference of yesterday in which he explained his decision to fire Eric Mangini as Browns head coach, note that the only tangible reason Holmgren offered for his decision was that “[the Browns] didn’t win enough games this year;” that his “expectations were higher.” The problem is, the account below is at least as easy to believe in as Holmgren’s apparent certainty that anyone could have done any better with what Mangini had to work with this season in Cleveland, or the idea that it somehow wouldn’t matter even if Holmgren wasn’t so certain:

PROLOGUE: The Baby-Billionaire and The Mangenius

Cleveland’s historically incompetent and unthinkably unworthy baby-billionaire NFL owner, Randy Lerner,* whose apparent interest in the Cleveland Browns amounts to little more than avoiding embarrassment while maintaining a consistently lucrative revenue stream, finally found the blind squirrel’s nut when Eric Mangini landed in his lap in January of 2009.

Eric Mangini, Bill Belichick’s former protege (“the one Belichick loved the most“), a decent man by all credible accounts, and as hardworking and talented a young head coach as was thought to be in the NFL, had just been shamelessly scapegoated for the spectacular failure of the Brett Favre experiment that had been pushed on him by the New York Jets’ front office; This, after Mangini had spent three seasons laying the foundation for a consistent winner in New York. The one they called “Mangenius” after his first season in New York, a casualty of a shortsighted and reactive management approach (itself no doubt at least in part a result of one of the worst ‘weak sister’ complexes in sport), was going to have a chance to right another wayward ship in Cleveland. It was all the beginnings of a uniquely uplifting sports story. Whatever other differences between Cleveland and New York, Cleveland was at least going to be a place with enough space for a certain uniquely talented young football coach to do his job.

ACT I: The Cleveland Press Rejects New York’s “Hand-Me-Down” Coach

But the differences between Cleveland and New York, or really any ideas about how Cleveland could be better than New York in any way, had long been lost on the dinosaurs of Northeast Ohio’s press. Collectively afflicted with the chronic low-grade depression that characterizes the old guard of any dynamically-shifting industry, not a single credentialed local journalist sniffed at the angle that Cleveland might have been lucky to land a talented young coach who’d gotten a uniquely raw deal in New York.

Instead, the locals were all too glad to feast on the same low-hanging fruit as the National media, completely oblivious to or otherwise unconcerned with their reinforcement of an anti-Cleveland, anti-diversity, “Mangini-as-a-hand-me-down” meme in the process. So the primary focus was on the young coach’s struggle in mastering the least important aspect of his job, public relations (when Mangini met the Cleveland press for the first time at the February 2009 Scouting Combine, the first words to him from Tony Grossi, the top NFL beat writer at Cleveland’s flagship paper The Plain Dealer were, “you’re not going to pull the same [crap] here that you pulled in New York” from which point it got much worse), and the dominant theme from the start was that if the coach wasn’t good enough for New York, he wasn’t going to be good enough for Cleveland either.

It was this uniquely depraved climate that allowed mountains to spring from molehills at a frequency and magnitude heretofore unseen in the Cleveland sports press. Joe McCarthy would have blushed at the round demonization of Mangini for, among other things, requiring his rookies to perform community service at a football camp for disadvantaged youthfining a multimillionaire locker room cancer and repeat offender for stealing water bottles from hotels, and the commonplace practice of playing to the end in a shutout loss. This environment is as well characterized by anything as by the absurd incongruity between breathless outrage over certain practice sessions conducted by Mangini’s staff and the conclusiveness with which the staff was shortly cleared of all charges of wrongdoing relating to those practices.

ACT II: The Inmates Seize the Asylum

The depravity reached its apex at the 2009 Bye Week, when high-profile Browns “superfan”/circus clown “Dawg Pound Mike” Randall, who’s since notably and mysteriously disappeared, took the opportunity to capitalize on the historic wave of media-fueled impatience over the team’s 1-7 record and his own access to an email list of season-ticket holders to launch a publicity stunt; an organized fan protest or “walkout” by which participants would express their displeasure with the “direction” of the 1-7 Browns on national television, a scheduled appearance on Monday Night Football against the Baltimore Ravens.

While Randall’s protest ultimately fizzled with fans (“Douchebag Mike” chants were more noticeable than any section of empty seats at Browns Stadium that Monday night), the press was thrilled by it. Randall’s protest was written up in national outlets from Sports Illustrated to ESPN, and earned him a spot on ESPN’s nationally-syndicated “Mike & Mike” show among others. But the most amazing thing about the staged “walk-out” was that it earned Dawg Pound Mike an audience with Randy Lerner himself, who agreed to meet with the “superfan” before the scheduled protest even had a chance to flame out.

What made Lerner’s decision to meet with Randall especially surprising was the lack of integrity apparent in Randall’s protest from the start. Despite the treatment of the coach by the local and national press, it was still entirely possible to see Mangini’s decisions (and the team’s win-loss record) as part of a courageous and necessary teardown of an organizational culture that had long gone to rot, a housecleaning necessary to reverse a decade of unprecedented failure only arguably matched by the Matt Millen Era in Detroit. Decisions like the ones to cut physically-gifted sociopaths like Kellen Winslow Jr. and especially the critical locker room leak Braylon Edwards hurt the team on the field in the short term, but were easy enough to see as necessary for the franchise to take any long-term step forward. Despite that nobody really viewed Mangini’s task as anything less than Herculean, Dawg Pound Mike and his enablers could not or would not begin to address the notion that the protest denied the very concept of a rebuilding process, the protest’s primary basis being that the organization (read: “Coach”) hadn’t reversed a decade of unprecedented organizational incompetence overnight. The suspect nature of Randall’s position was magnified by his own express disclaimer that he did not purport to speak for all Cleveland Browns fans, and again by the revelation that Randall sought to carve out a career for himself as a player agent. In fact, the suspect nature of Randall’s position was magnified every time Randall opened his mouth to explain it (and, again, by Randall’s complete disappearance from the scene in 2010).

Yet still, Lerner emerged from a preliminary meeting with Randall promising to hire a “strong, credible, serious leader” to help run the Cleveland Browns, thereby casting Mangini’s immediate future in serious doubt, despite that difficult choices made by the head coach revealed him to be the closest resemblance of a “strong, credible, serious leader” in Berea since Lerner had inherited the franchise. One day after this preliminary meeting, Mangini’s hand-picked General Manager George Kokinis was fired for reasons that remain bizarrely perhaps somewhat understandably vague to this day.

Thus, from the ashes of a historically incompetent owner’s overreaction to a self-interested stunt on the part of one uniquely-positioned publicity hound, rose Mike Holmgren, no longer wanted in Seattle after only two 10+ win seasons in ten competing the worst division in the NFL (in NFL history?), hired as President of the Cleveland Browns thirty-six days after Dawg Pound Mike’s protest, and given full authority over all football operations, including that to take on any role in the organization he desired.

Two days before Holmgren was hired by Lerner, the Browns won the second of what would be four consecutive to close the 2009 season, the franchise’s longest winning streak since since 1994, and one that included a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers to break a six-year losing streak to the Browns’ bitter rivals.

———-

*Lerner, of course, inherited the team from his father, Al Lerner, who made his $8 billion fortune on credit card interest, and who helped orchestrate Art Modell’s move of the original Browns franchise from Cleveland to Baltimore (link updated 11/27/11).

We’ll pick up with Act III tomorrow.

UPDATE: Click here to read Act III.

  • Biki

    wow, that was some epic storytelling bud. while i agree that Lerner has largely been a failure as an owner, I disagree with your assessment of why Mangeni got canned in NY, and that I believe Randall made the right move in hiring Holmgren to be the face and leader of the team.

    but that was some great writing right there! St. Hilary, Revere, NYU, Northwestern, and Jones Day taught you well!

    • Smittypop2

      LOL…wtf is this? Are you even a Browns fan anymore? Hilarious and I think you should approach Mangina about being his pr guy.

      • Believelander

        Don’t worry, Smitty, Frowns has a thriving law practice, and really, Mangini won’t need a PR guy after he goes somewhere else, produces fantastic results, and ESPN is slobbering all over his Mangenitals like they do to every fotm coach out there.

        Also, can Biki please explain to me when Mike Holmgren has -ever- proven (you may not cite the firing of Eric Mangini as a source, since it proves nothing but politics at this point) that he is capable of being the president in charge of the decision-making of a billion dollar company?

        Was it when he was failing to discern talent in Seattle, or posting mediocre records in the NFL’s poorest division? When he won 1 Super Bowl in a lot of years on an insanely good Green Bay team? Or was it when he proved himself an awesome QB coach because he brought along Brett Favre and Steve Young and Matt Hassleback?

        Because great QB coach = amazing billion-dollar executive! I forgot.

        So while you guys are busy talking about the fictional nature of Frowns’ point of view, which, as an opinion, is incapable of being fictitious or factual, how about you pile some more sand under that castle foundation of yours, where Mike Holmgren is some effing mad genius who has a shred of credibility that he has what it takes to get it done at his job.

        Three years from now when the Browns are wallowing in the AFC North cellar in an impotent pass-first, offense-first system, and we fire Mike Holmgren, I’ll be sitting in my room morosely pondering the Browns’ turmoil while wearing my MANGINI jersey and watching his thousand-yard stare in the Super Bowl.

        I -really- hope he goes to the NFC so he can square off with Bill Belichick. That would be epic.

        Oh, sorry, I digressed, it’s hard to pay attention to opinions as fictitious as the one that Holmgren is somehow a proven, credible team president.

        Because, well, he’s not. He’s just a 65-year history teacher who makes me look skinny, who will probably keel over in the next 5 years. Awesome organizational stability. LOL! Bike Rider and Smithers, you guys are the best.

        • Believelander

          Word ver: Mangenitals. Also, trademarked.

        • Smittypop2

          I am not sure if you are insane or what…keep me posted on the Mangini progress. Also, thanks for the tips on Pete’s career…I only grew up with him.

      • Anonymous

        LOLOL

  • Art Brosef

    Frowns you know where I come out on all this, and you make valid point after valid point. But while Mangini may be, and may someday, prove to be a genius, to assume that he is as the basis of an argument doesnt hold water. He has shown potential, really, and nothing more. He has had two head coaching jobs, and been fired from both. When youre fired from two jobs, no matter what the profession, its prudent to examine the one being fired. Blaming other people and other cirumstances, no matter the situation, doesnt cut it. Mangini certainly hasnt done that, but its a bottom line business. We all know that. Mangini deserved to a chance to stay. But there are good arguments that he didnt as well.

    • Anonymous

      The point is that it’s a storyline that hasn’t at all been persuasively ruled out.

      • Art Brosef

        But it hasnt been persuasively ruled certain, either.

        • Believelander

          Just wait, Brosef. Just wait.

          @Mark, that’s because Frowns is right and we are all, in fact, wrong. Or maybe it’s just his blog and he can write with any level of self-confident (or arrogant, depending on your point of view) certainty he wants.

          I guess that just makes him a strong, credible leader. We should probably fire him and hire Dawg Pound Mike and/or the Bob Feller statue outside the Jake to write Cleveland Frowns. Maybe both.

        • Anonymous

          The point, again, is that this story is easier for me to believe than the idea that Mangini should have been fired because he didn’t “win enough” or that he doesn’t have what it takes to “win at a championship level.” I can explain reasons why this is the case, and much better than Holmgren can explain his story, which is why, at some level, I do believe that Holmgren was wrong to fire the Coach.

          Or else what Believe’r said.

      • Art Brosef

        I guess what Im saying is that there isnt a definitive “right” position here. I dont think anyone would dispute the adjectives with which you described EM. He deserved a chance to stay. There are also many valid points why he didnt. EM has a body of work, and its fair to judge him on that, despite the reasons for the bottom line.

        • Mark

          “I guess what Im saying is that there isnt a definitive “right” position here.” Really? Do you think Frowns believes that after all he has ever written here? Seriously? Every argument he has ever made, wither I agree with it or not, has always been dripping an air of “I’m right and you all are so wrong.”

          BTW, I agree with everything you’ve written here.

        • Otis

          “I dont think anyone would dispute the adjectives with which you described EM”

          Surprisingly enough, there a lots of people who would argue those adjectives and whether he deserved a chance to stay; just tune into to WKNR or read cleveland.com

          Sure, Holmgren had all the ammo he needed to fire Mangini based on his track record, however, the question(s) remains: Did he ever really give Mangini a fair shot? or Was he gone after this year regardless of W-L?

          It seems as though Frowns thinks he was not given a fair shot, and I am not inclined to disagree with that notion at this point.

          • Art Brosef

            Otis: My apologies. I should have said, “I dont think anyone with more than two brain cells would dispute…..”

      • Luke

        Ooookay. Let me see if I understand this. In your comment, Frownie, you state, “Also, I’m not talking about a genius, really…”

        But in the big headline title of the article, you wrote the following, “Mangenius Interrupted: An Institutional Failure in Five Acts (Vol. 1)”.

        So which is it Frownie? Is Eric Mangini a genius of a head football coach, as you clearly imply in your title, or is he something less than that as you clearly state in your comment?

        Or is this just more of your anti-rational, illogical bombast, aka business as usual in FrownieLand? If that’s the case, then… I get it.

        • Anonymous

          Um. Mangenius is a nickname. One that reflects that the coach is an independent thinker, a good man by all accounts, and as hardworking and talented a young head coach as there appears to be in the NFL. Maybe we can get into what “genius” really is if you want to start, but the point here is that Mangini was as good a man as any for this particular job.

          But yeah, where do people think they get off with anti-rational bombast, etc.?

      • Donnybeisbol the ex-Browns fan

        Good man, hardworking, and talented. Yes.
        Successful NFL head coach? Not yet.
        Someday he will learn that he can’t control EVERYTHING.
        Perhaps if he could change America’s youth culture and a few game rules here and there (no halftime coaching adjustments for the other team, playbooks must be published in advance, etc.) then the Mangini way, admirable as you find it, could actually produce NFL wins.

    • Believelander

      Be…cause…the Browns were 10-22 in two rebuild seasons…

      Like when Romeo Crennel’s failed rebuild project went 10-22 in two rebuild seasons….

      But his fat ass got a third year.

      Fattism. Mangini lost weight and all the stupid fat people like Mike Holmgren and Lerner’s fat-swollen brain felt threatened.

  • http://brian23.com Brian

    Can Mike Fratello coach the Browns.

  • http://brian23.com Brian

    Also why is that one guy dressed up like french fries lolol

    • Believelander

      He’s wearing the Charlie Fryes.

      No, seriously, that’s what the suit is for.

      • http://brian23.com Brian

        He’s like “hey where is my french fries costume” all the time at home. lolol

  • http://twitter.com/jimkanicki jim kanicki

    frownie, i’ve been resistant to the conspiracy theories (which i actually think you DO NOT propose) and also willing to give grossi the benefit of doubt w.r.t. having a personal agenda (which i think is _part_ of the prevailing theme on grossi).

    that said, two pieces on cleveland.com this evening just locked down their bush league status as a news organization for me.

    1. hatchet job on canfield trooper. drunk guy gets cuffed for throwing peanuts and trashes holding cell at CBS. not a story, right? find out the guy’s a cop and it’s front page news for cleveland.com. their metamorphasis into radaronline.com now reaching critical mass.

    2. rams OC pat shurmur get this bouquet from MKC: “This year, he’s done a fabulous job with rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, who led the Rams to a 7-9 record.” fabulous? frownie, as you know the rams have been my pet team this year, having bet them more sunday than not. i watched 70% of their games. believe me. shurmur’s game plans were less complex than those given to brady quinn. if you saw the punt-fest vs seattle in the biggest game of the rams’ year last sunday, you know what i’m talking about. it was like that all year with the rams. since MKC was covering the browns every sunday, it’s safe to assume she’s seen no rams games. so why the eff does shurmur get this KISS from the PD? and for the cynical among us, it seems like his being the son of a holmgren crony got glossed over. in sum: journalistic value add = fail.

  • Malcolm Mathers

    Frownie, one thing I can say is great writing. While I tend to think you’ve taken this to Islamic-Jihadist extremes many of your points are well reasoned, and some even right. My only question to you is this: Do you think the best thing for the Browns was to leave Mangini with all the power? In your opinion was hiring Holmgren a mistake? I also think that you’ve overblown in a big way the influence the media has in this town. Nothing gives credence to the opinions of Reghi and Grossi. Nobody, that is, except you.

    • Anonymous

      There are concerns with leaving anyone with all the power, but after seeing what Holmgren’s done with his, I’m inclined to wish that someone else but him had it.

      What the media does is give people cover to act without integrity. Reasonable minds can disagree about how far this influence goes. I do tend to think it can go a long way.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JNBUAE5ZFODAZR3KALKVBQL26U Bob

        The media’s anti-Mangini position allows them not to thoroughly question Holmgren about why he fired the coach. During the presser on Monday, I think, they ask one question about Mangini’s dismissal, and instead they focus on whether Holmgren is going to coach the team himself.

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    While I was all in favor of Mangini coming back for a third year, it’s clear Holmgren had no investment in him.

    If Mangini succeeded this year, Holmgren could take credit for retaining him. If Mangini failed, Holmgren could say “I didn’t hire him” and let him go.

    Obviously the 10-22 record, no matter the circumstances, didn’t meet the team’s expectations.

    Holmgren better get this new hire right, because now that he has a stake in the new coach that coach will be here for the duration of his contract. If Holmgren gets this wrong, it’ll be 2016 or so before things will get better.

    And, as of today, I’m not real thrilled with the names being linked to the position.

    So while I’m not 100 percent behind the firing, it happened and I’m ready to move on (I think).

    • http://twitter.com/jimkanicki jim kanicki

      did you get due accolades for your eerily prescient post from a year ago? (h/t DP, WFNY):

      When you look at all the factors that went into this decision it’s not that surprising the Holmgren decided to stay the course for now. He clearly was not confident that he could get his coach this year and the financial reality of Lerner paying for another ex-coach with the threat of a lockout/strike looming in 2011 plays a major, major role in this.

      Keep Mangini for another year and when he turns in another 5-11 season then appropriate changes can be made.

      original pullo post: http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=23049&cpage=1#comment-73350

      i stand in awe, sir.

      • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

        I saw that yesterday … I’m actually shocked as I don’t remember that.

        Part of me really wishes I had been wrong. Who knows? Maybe I was and Holmgren’s decision will turn out to be the wrong one. Lord knows not a lot goes right around here when it comes to our sports teams.

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    While I was all in favor of Mangini coming back for a third year, it’s clear Holmgren had no investment in him.

    If Mangini succeeded this year, Holmgren could take credit for retaining him. If Mangini failed, Holmgren could say “I didn’t hire him” and let him go.

    Obviously the 10-22 record, no matter the circumstances, didn’t meet the team’s expectations.

    Holmgren better get this new hire right, because now that he has a stake in the new coach that coach will be here for the duration of his contract. If Holmgren gets this wrong, it’ll be 2016 or so before things will get better.

    And, as of today, I’m not real thrilled with the names being linked to the position.

    So while I’m not 100 percent behind the firing, it happened and I’m ready to move on (I think).

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    While I was all in favor of Mangini coming back for a third year, it’s clear Holmgren had no investment in him.

    If Mangini succeeded this year, Holmgren could take credit for retaining him. If Mangini failed, Holmgren could say “I didn’t hire him” and let him go.

    Obviously the 10-22 record, no matter the circumstances, didn’t meet the team’s expectations.

    Holmgren better get this new hire right, because now that he has a stake in the new coach that coach will be here for the duration of his contract. If Holmgren gets this wrong, it’ll be 2016 or so before things will get better.

    And, as of today, I’m not real thrilled with the names being linked to the position.

    So while I’m not 100 percent behind the firing, it happened and I’m ready to move on (I think).

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    While I was all in favor of Mangini coming back for a third year, it’s clear Holmgren had no investment in him.

    If Mangini succeeded this year, Holmgren could take credit for retaining him. If Mangini failed, Holmgren could say “I didn’t hire him” and let him go.

    Obviously the 10-22 record, no matter the circumstances, didn’t meet the team’s expectations.

    Holmgren better get this new hire right, because now that he has a stake in the new coach that coach will be here for the duration of his contract. If Holmgren gets this wrong, it’ll be 2016 or so before things will get better.

    And, as of today, I’m not real thrilled with the names being linked to the position.

    So while I’m not 100 percent behind the firing, it happened and I’m ready to move on (I think).

  • Mencken

    Woe to these Browns of frozen sod,
    Children of a lesser god.
    Every week a different passer,
    Another year, another master.

    Mangini, Mangenius, Mangoofy, Mangina,
    Next year’s coach of Carolina ?
    If it were up to Tony, up to Grossi,
    He’d rather Mangini was Nancy Pelosi.

    As Holmgren watched from far above,
    Only Mangini’s boys showed him love.
    Going for 3 when he shoulda gone for 7,
    A nod and a wink to Groza in heaven ?

    So Eric’s gone like so many before him,
    Bill, and Chris, Bud and Jim.
    Butch and Terry, Romeo and Bud,
    Yet another season ends with a thud.

  • JCM

    While I remain unsure that firing Mangini was the right move, and I have read through as many posts and comments Frowns has made on the subject for several weeks now, I still have not seen Frowns address one critical issue: the 2009 Draft, run by Mangini. By any objective measure it was a disaster. Moreover, while you’ve mounted an epic defense of EM, in your mind is there ANY legitimate criticism of the job he did?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XUMUVFPYOOTFE5JQUYIO6DZPVI kyle w

      Wouldn’t it be nice to have LeSean McCoy or Mike Wallace! I bet Belichek is kicking himself in the ass for drafting Brandon Tate the pick before M.Wallace. After Alex Mack it really went down hill!

    • Anonymous

      1) Mangini is a head coach not a GM.
      2) It’s premature to call the 2009 draft a disaster by any measure, let alone an objective one.
      3) He’d only been with the team for about 2 months by the time he had to draft, had never been in camp with his players, and knew he had two massive personality disorders to deal with in the locker room, which sort of hamstrung him/gave him good reason to reach for receivers in a receiver thin draft.
      4) Mangini is a head coach not a GM.

      • JCM

        Look, Im not arguing he is/was a GM, but the facts suggest he ran the ’09 draft. And furthermore, Im pretty much on your side on his firing, but I have noticed you seem to discard any and all ciriticism as irrational. Surely there ares ome mistakes he made you are willing to concede…

        • Anonymous

          I’ve said before that while there are specific decisions that can be criticized (I’ve done so here, believe it or not), mostly with hindsight, it’s premature/unfair to pass judgment on these individual decisions given what the Coach has had to work with here. This applies to drafting for an unprecedented mess of a roster two months after joining the organization, as well as calling plays on 3rd and 1 with a rookie quarterback, half an offensive line, and Mohammed Massaquoi as your top “gamebreaker.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XUMUVFPYOOTFE5JQUYIO6DZPVI kyle w

    One thing I am starting to notice is that some of the Mangini supporters are taking shots at Holmgren and even questioning his resume. Put yourself in his shoes for a minute. He said when he was hired if he could go back in time (to seattle) he would’ve brought in his guys sooner. He also said he would’ve drafted defense early in the draft (and he did). Mangini was going to have to really impress Holmgren to keep his job. We added Fujita, Ward, Watson, Haden, Hillis, Delhomme, Wallace, Gocong and S. Brown. We upgraded the talent level and still went 5-11 and tanked down the stretch! I know we had a tough schedule and some injuries(just like every team) but he is standing by what he said when he was hired. Since 99 the front office has been a joke and we finally have someone who is well respected and knows football. Last but not least, I don’t think Holmgren gives a rats ass what Grossi thinks.

    • Believelander

      “Some injuries”.
      Like, you know, Fujita, Watson (int.), Delhomme, Wallace, Brown (int.), Cribbs, McCoy, Robaire Smith, Eric Wright, Pashos, Lauvao, Womack, Yates, Cribbs, Moore, Cribbs, Rogers.

      Oh, Hardesty and D’Qwell Jackson. And Cribbs.
      Yeah, just 3 starting quarterbacks, 1 starting running back (pre), 1 starting wideout (named Cribbs), 2 starting tight ends (Watson only had to deal with a constant nagging leg injury), 3 starting linemen plus our rookie, 2 starting defensive linemen, 2 starting linebackers, and a starting corner; one of the linemen, one of the linebackers, and the corner were each a defensive captain.

      I wonder what the best record of any team ever to change starters to injury 4+ times in one season is.

      When they face a historically brutal schedule.

      With people like Tony Grossi and SmittyPop gnawing on their coach’s ankles.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XUMUVFPYOOTFE5JQUYIO6DZPVI kyle w

        My point was that we are not the only team that had to deal with injuries. Look at Green Bay and Indianapolis for example. Since 3 of the guys on your list are QB’s, how many more wins would we have had with a healthy Delhomme? Those two quarters Watson missed really killed us too! Finally, I think you listed Cribbs three times.

  • Alex

    I’m disappointed that Holmgren will be bringing in dinosaurs and retreads to run the Browns. Eric Mangini is a bright, tough, young coach. I have no doubt that he would have made the team a consistent competitor had he been given the chance.

  • Rgrunds

    “Collectively afflicted with the chronic low-grade depression that characterizes the old guard of any dynamically-shifting industry”

    Great Line, Bunkie. You neglected to mention that Cleveland is dynamically shifting to the downside in all ways. It used to be the capital of low level depression, now it is the locus of all things subnormal and desireable to a ruling underclass.

    Of course Clevelanders will discriminate against an independent and original mind. The unfree hate the free.

    By the way, did you hear the new Council president speak? Connally has trouble enunciating her words. Mangini should thank Holmgren for getting him out of here.

    • http://twitter.com/jimkanicki jim kanicki

      geez, i was going to make an offer on brosef’s warehouse district palace… what with his impending re-lo to gates mills. now not so sure…

      • Rgrunds

        Forget it. You’re better off in Akron. Anyway, rumor has it that out of embarrassment, the U.S. is going to cede Cleveland to Canada.

        Personally, I feel NE Ohio should be administered in Trust by Pennsylvania or Indiana. Connally should be subject to a restraining order by which she can’t make any decision unless it is screened by an advisory commission.

  • Art Brosef

    I dont doubt that Mangini and co. were making significant progress. I would have very much enjoyed watching them attempt to continue to do so. The fact of the matter is, thats not going to happen. As Im sure we all do, Ive got a lot going on in my life and I dont have the time nor the inclination to wonder about what MIGHT have been when it comes to the teams I root for.

    I am excited to see what might become, when it pertains to the new situation. Im only 30 years old and Im very much used to starting over. Like ive said, I will judge the new regime with the same open mind Ive judged the previous ones.

    I saw some tweet today relating to football knowledge and the Browns drafting a WR with #6. If AJ Green is there, how on earth can the Browns pass him up?? Am I stupid for thinking thats a no brainer??

  • http://twitter.com/Legacy_Fan Legacy Fan

    Per usual – great post, Frowns.

  • Jim

    It’s obvious you believe the Browns should not have fired Mangini. You also seem to believe that there are absolutely no valid reasons Mike Holmgren took such action. Alternatively, there is a large segment of the Browns fan base that believes it was absolutely the right decision, and that there were absolutely no reasons to keep Mangini as coach. The truth, I suspect, lies somewhere in between.

    The issue should not be whether it was the “right” or “wrong” decision per se. The issue is whether we as fans trust what Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert are doing to put a Championship quality team on the field.

    Thus far, most of their personnel moves have paid huge dividends. Drafting Haden when people thought he was “too slow” turned out to be a wise decision. Drafting TJ Ward over the more heralded Taylor Mays also turned out to be a great selection. Finding Colt McCoy in the 3rd round appears to be another solid selection. Lavua (sp) seems like he could be a solid developmental piece, and we will have to wait and see whether Hardesty develops. Still, that is three starters on the Browns in one draft. The front office also robbed the Broncos for Peyton Hillis, merely giving up the corpse of Brady Quinn and getting two draft picks as well. The free agent signings of Scott Fujita and Ben Watson were also excellent.

    My point is that for the first time in Browns 2.0 history, we have a front office that gets it, that has been making good personnel moves. I expect no less with their decision on the next head coach.

    • Anonymous

      “The issue is whether we as fans trust what Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert are doing to put a Championship quality team on the field.”

      Right. And I’m trying to figure out why the decision to fire Mangini isn’t a significant reason to distrust Holmgren, especially given his stated justification.

      It’s a subsidiary point, by the way, but the pass that T.J. Ward gets for having been systematically torched in pass coverage this season continues to startle me. It was an issue with him coming out of college, too. Eric Wright is a real martyr here.

      If you’ll grant that McCoy is still a major question mark (at least as much of one as Robiskie, coming into his third season), and that Massaquoi is at least a passable #2 receiver, the Browns got as many starters out of this draft as they did from Mangini’s.

      Mangini was the one who wanted Hillis and Watson.

      And it was far from rocket surgery for this team to draft Haden with the seventh pick.

      Since you brought these things up.

      • Believelander

        Tom: “What’s our weakest position?”
        Eric: “Cornerback.”
        Tom: “K. Let me call our scouts.”
        Tom: “Hey, Bill, who’s the best cornerback coming out of this draft?”
        Scout: “Joe Haden.”
        Tom: “Man, this rocket surgery stuff tires you out.”

        I dunno, Frowns, I’m pretty sure that’s how it went down.

        • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

          My wife wondered how the coverage on the play was blown so badly, and on the replay, all I had to say was “Look at Ward, he changed direction twice against a guy who runs a 4.25 40. He never had a chance.”

          I’ve been talking about how bad he is in coverage all year. I feel like it’s easier to teach that than it is to teach tackling and pummeling guys into the turf.

      • Jim

        Well I disagree on a number of fronts. What has Mo. Mass. done to justify his status as a number 2 receiver? He had two more receptions than last season (36 to 34) and managed roughly 150+ yards on those receptions, tallying 483 on the year. He lacks the speed to be a vertical threat. I think, best case scenario, he’s a solid number three possession receiver. I have no idea what you’d call Brian Robiskie at this point. He has been nothing short of terrible until the end of this season when somehow, someway he tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions.

        Ward certainly regressed as the season went on. He was good in run support this year, and I believe a clear upgrade to the players we had playing safety last season. I also am a firm believer that coverage skills are something a young player can get better at. I feel comfortable with Ward as our starting safety.

        McCoy also has regressed as the season went on, whether it was his injury, teams finally being able to scout him, etc. I’m not sure. I believe the QB position is in a much better position than it was last year, however. I also believe he has shown more than Robo has and in alot less time.

        Haden at Number 7 was also no sure pick. He had less than stellar work-outs, and was criticized as being “too slow” by scouts and pundits who tend to over analyze these things. In a number of mocks the “pundits” and scouts had Boise’s Kyle Wilson going in front on him as the number one corner.

        Finally, regarding the Hillis trade. Remind me again who facilitated that trade? Mangini may have “wanted” Hillis but he did nothing to acquire him in the year he acted as de facto GM of this franchise.

        This says nothing of the free agent signings Heckert and Holmgren made. Heckert was also successful at the whole personnel thing in Philly as well. I trust these two, more than I have trusted any other brain trust since “the return” to get things right.

      • Art Brosef

        What “stated justification” would you have accepted?

        I think youre being a bit too hard on Ward here as well. While he was torched numerous times, he was still a rookie and made some nice plays. He doesnt get judged the same as Robo.

        And just as a point of observation, there are numerous NFL head coaching gigs available. I would be surprised if EM gets an interview anywhere. That cant not mean anything.

        • Anonymous

          “What “stated justification” would you have accepted?”

          I’d be willing to try anything but “he didn’t win enough with this team” on for size. He could start with an explanation of why one of “his guys” would have done any better with what Mangini had to work with, or why it doesn’t matter if they would have, which would probably get to honest questions about what one of “his guys” has that Mangini doesn’t, by way of philosophy or anything else, other than status as one of “his guys.”

  • http://bryanjoiner.com/ Bryan Joiner

    Amusing that I think Raab’s position is oversimplified and better for blogging and yours is better for a book, but that’s the way the world works, I guess.

  • http://bryanjoiner.com/ Bryan Joiner

    Amusing that I think Raab’s position is oversimplified and better for blogging and yours is better for a book, but that’s the way the world works, I guess.

  • http://bryanjoiner.com/ Bryan Joiner

    Amusing that I think Raab’s position is oversimplified and better for blogging and yours is better for a book, but that’s the way the world works, I guess.

  • Balance

    Pete-I’ve been following your site for a few months, thanks for digging deep and providing some great Browns analysis. This is one of the first places I go on Monday morning.

    That said, your assessment of the Mangini situation would be more credible if you acknowledged his flaws (and they are apparent) and missteps. I understand you’re trying to combat the overwhelming anti-Mangini sentiment in the local and national media, but you fall into the same trap of ignoring inconvenient facts in defending Mangini.

    To wit-what greased the skids for his demise was the selection of Mangini as coach prior to picking a credible GM/President. Kokinis was an abject disaster, whether due to his own breakdown (as the Browns claim) or a power play on the part of Mangini to sideline him. Either way, this is 95% on Mangini (Lerner gets some blame too): Kokinis was his personal choice, and this led directly to the failed 2009 draft, which left a talent hole that Mangini was unable to overcome. Once Kokinis proved incapable of doing the job (or was pushed out by Mangini in a naked power play, depending on whom you believe), it was clear that the Browns needed a credible front office–coaches far more accomplished than Mangini have failed in the dual role. And pretty much every President/GM is going to want a coach that matches his style and compliments his talent assessment-Holmgren is 100% within his rights to do that. To his credit, he gave Mangini another year to impress, and had the Browns won a few more games I am confident he would have been back. 5-11, even against a tough schedule, is simply not impressive–Vegas predicted 5.5, so he slightly underperformed, and that’s even with a very impressive draft class that was not necessarily incorporated in that prediction. Did he do a competent job? Certainly. But he needed to do a very good/great job (ie, coax 2-3 more wins than the talent level dictates) to maintain his job given the differences in style with the front office. He failed to do so, and is now justifiably gone.

    While you nitpick his record, Holmgren is without question a highly respected football figure, and Heckert has been terrific so far. The Browns are better off with this front office than they were in 2009 with Mangini and a token figurehead. He dug his own grave with Kokinis, with an assist from Lerner, and while he is certainly a competent football coach, and by most accounts a good guy, this result is justified.

    • Other Dave

      Couldn’t agree more. The difference is that the post here doesn’t see Mangini as merely a competent coach, but a “independent thinker, a good man by all accounts, and as hardworking and talented a young head coach as there appears to be in the NFL.” Also — “a certain uniquely talented young football” and “the closest resemblance of a ‘strong, credible, serious leader.’” This isn’t just opinion, it’s advocacy.

      I’ve been following the RichRod saga as well, and the difference is that no matter whether you think that RichRod was sabotaged or not, or deserves more time or not, everyone agrees that the actual results were awful.

      In the Browns case, there is a massive gap in how the results are viewed. I get the strong impression that Frowns and that Believeland guy give Mangini a strong A. But you don’t have to look too far to find people giving him an F.

      I really think both extremes are ridiculous. This was a C job. This was a shallow, young team with holes — and they accordingly played to a crappy result. I swear to you that 50 coaches could have done similarly. Mangini is a competent coach, with strengths and weaknesses.

      If I’m right, it would undercut a lot of the Frowns anger. And Holgrem doesn’t have to be certain that his new coach is a genius, or guarantee the playoffs. What’s that about? He’s allowed to choose his own competent coach, and continue this journey. I support him in that. I would have been fine with keeping Mangini too, but this hand-wringing is silly.

      • Other Dave

        I wrote Holgrem again. It’s Holmgren. Holmgren. Mark Holmgren. It’s not that hard.

      • Anonymous

        See my comment below beginning with “It’s simply false.”

        • Balance

          Fair enough-can you point to some postings where you questioned a Mangini decision? I don’t claim complete familiarity with your work, I’ve just never come across anything remotely critical.

  • Balance

    One more point, as I read through these comments. Why the need to downplay Heckert’s/Holmgren’s personnel moves? By almost any assessment, they have made great decisions.

    -Gocong/Sheldon Brown for a bag of footballs-great trade.
    -Ben Watson-great signing
    -Quinn for Hillis (and 2 picks!!)-ridiculous trade

    -the draft-
    –Haden, a future pro bowl corner (who was not a slam dunk choice, as others have pointed out)-great pick
    -Ward-getting a starting safety in the 2nd round-great pick. Yes he occasionally gets torched in coverage, but he’s a rookie, and if the draft were held again he would be a 1st rounder.
    -Hardesty in the 2nd-looks like a mistake, but an injury is a tough break. He may still be worth something.
    -McCoy in the 3rd round-looks like a potential franchise QB, and at a fraction of the cost of a top 10 pick-fantastic pick.
    -the rest of the draft yielded Lauvao, who may still develop into a starting guard.

    No one hits on 100% of their picks, but that’s a pretty damn good batting average–maybe the best off-season in the NFL.

    Meanwhile, your defense of the 2009 draft is laughable. Mack is a solid player, but we passed on Clay Matthews who would have been a perfect 3-4 LB and could have filled a huge need. Other than that–Robiskie at 36 was a huge reach, and while he may still develop into something decent it’s pretty clear that his ceiling isn’t that high. Massaquoi–not bad, but it’s far from clear that he’s a solid #2. The guy couldn’t crack 500 yards as the #1 receiver. Veikune-horrendous. Especially when you consider he was 1 pick ahead of LeSean McCoy (talk about a no brainer). Otherwise-bubkes. They accumulated all those picks for a center and two WRs with a questionable future, as well as some veteran placeholders from the Jets (Elam and Coleman). How on earth can you in good conscience argue that this is on par or better than then 2010 draft???

    You hurt your credibility with these statements. Mangini is not God-you can think he’s a great football and still acknowledge that he has made some big mistakes.

    • Bryan

      I think Balance has made the best comment so far. I love Frowns’ blog. I love that he challenges the naive thinking of the Cleveland media. I also loved Mangini. But Frowns’ defense of Mangini is losing credibility as it shifts into unquestioned dogma.

      I think the firing of Mangini is a mistake, but it is not completely unreasonable. Holmgren and Heckert are solid football guys, and its not unreasonable for them to both respect the intelligence and commitment of Mangini but also feel they want to move in a different direction.

    • Bob A.

      Balance’s take is spot on and much appreciated. I am highly entertained by Frowns and appreciate his willingness to take a position that counters dominant and widely reported conclusions. But, it’s flawed in that he glosses over inconvenient details the same way he alleges Tony Grossi and Terry Pluto do. Pot. Kettle. Black.

      I think, Frowns, your position would be better represented if you acknowledged that there’s some validity to other positions; such as, the notion there are other good, talented young coaches whose philosophy is more closely aligned with Holmgren and Heckert and there’s nothing wrong with the front office wanting such a coach.

    • Jim

      Excellent post and that is my point as well. This isn’t a simple black and white issue; there are legitimate reasons and points on both side of the debate.

      As I stated, it comes down to whether we as fans trust Heckertt and Holmgren to make good football decisions for this team. I believe they will and base that opinion off of the personnel moves they have made thus far. This is not a slight to Mangini. He is certainly a serviceable coach. However, the front office has decided to move in a different direction. I am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt and see who they actually hire before determining that it was such a terrible decision.

      • Anonymous

        It’s simply false to state that I’ve ever taken the position that Mangini has no faults. The issue here has always been that those faults have systematically been unfairly judged with respect to the difficulty of his job.

        I can only say it in so many ways. I want to be optimistic, too. My problem is that the only reason Holmgren gave us for firing the Coach was that he didn’t win enough with this ragtag injury-ravaged bunch. Holmgren says this without any elaboration, without any explanation as to why the guy he’ll bring in would have done better, or why that shouldn’t matter. This is impossible for me to understand, thus, impossible for me to blindly trust.

        And on the other side of all this, I see a young talented bright football coach, a good guy, who’d been making significant progress with this team, who by all accounts (but for one delusional backup quarterback) were behind him.

        There’s a lot more supporting my asking questions than there is to support your blind trust in Holmgren here.

        • Biki

          why exactly does he have to elaborate again??? i mean i’d have to believe there is a professional code between not airing out the dirty laundry of an outgoing coach. Holmgren has high praise for EM as a man and coach, but just felt it wasn’t a good fit. i mean why exactly does he need to explain each particular perceived flaw to the media/public. i don’t think Eric would appreciate that being aired publicly as well. I’m sure Holmgren gave his reasons to Mangini and really that’s all that matters.

          As far as an explanation for the fans, I really didn’t expect him to go into much details other than what seems so obvious to a lot of us since Holmgren got here. Typically a new Front Office regime wants to hire one of their “own guys” that way if the ship does sink, they at least have some ownership in it. Holmgren gave him one year to see if they could work together, and it seems like they weren’t able to, particularly on the offensive playcalling side of things.

          • JoeBrowns

            I think he has to elaborate because when he kept Mangini on this year he said you can’t judge a coach based solely on wins and losses. Then he goes and cans him because of Wins and Losses.

          • Anonymous

            It’s pretty simple, really.

          • JoeBrowns

            For some it is : )

          • Donnybeisbol

            I think Holmgren was being gracious in not rehashing what had become a national media meme about Mangini. He probably saved his NFL career by not trashing the guys skills. Obviously Holmgen executed a CYA maneuver in retaining Mangini, and is doing the same in firing him this year.

            That’s what’s obvious to me. Does anyone really believe that either of these individuals would fall on the sword for the other? Let’s not be naive. Holmgren did no favors for Mangini, but he didn’t hang him out to dry, either…

        • Balance

          I support my trust in Holmgren and Heckert not blindly, but based on Holmgren’s track record as a coach and a respected football figure and Heckert’s as a talent evaluator, both with the Eagles and in his short stint with the Browns, as described in my post. That is more than can be said for Mangini, who has now been canned by 2 separate teams and has the same record as Romeo Crennel (who also had crap talent). Maybe Mangini would have been the guy, as you believe, but you’re the one going on blind faith, bc his coaching ability sure isn’t reflected in his career record or in the fact that now 2 franchises have decided pretty quickly that he’s not the right guy. And the fact that he’s a “good guy” and is supported by the players-please. You’ve just perfectly described Romeo Crennel. Those are not criteria for success in the NFL.

        • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

          That’s what’s been sticking with me as well. If Holmgren didn’t think Mangini was the right guy, fine, it’s his call. But I think he could have, and should have, given the fans a bit more detail into the decision. Especially since, back in November, he said that wins and losses wouldn’t be the only criteria.

          But going by what Holmgren said on Monday it seems as if wins and losses were the primary criteria he used in making his decision. If he believes this team, with everything it went through this year, should have won 3 or 4 more games I’d like to know why he thinks that.

          I guess I didn’t pick up on the signs, or chose to ignore them, during the season that there was a disconnect on just how talented this team is and how quickly they should show improvement.

          • Balance

            Wins and losses were not the only criteria, but in a results oriented league they have to be the primary one. Another big factor is whether the team was improving–last year, this saved Mangini’s job. This year, they went out with a 4 game losing streak, including against 2 of the bottom 4 teams in the league (on top of a lucky win at home against the worst team in the league), and got pasted at home in the last home. All of these losses had highly questionable coaching and time management decisions (which Frowns of course glossed over). They showed improvement mid-season, but then faded big time. Yes there were injuries, but guess what-in the NFL, every team is banged up for the last few games.

            So a mediocre record (yes, given the talent), a late season decline, and an embarrassingly inept offense, given the philosophical issues discussed ad nauseum, provide ample grounds for dismissal. I don’t think Holmgren expected magic from this team, but the way they played at the end of the season clearly did not meet his evaluation of the talent level.

        • Malcolm Mathers

          Since when do front office types ever give their true rationale of a given decision? If you’ve trusted everything you’ve been listening to in press conferences I hate to burst your bubble. Usually they’re just trying to give a sound bite and that’s it. I think it’s a little naive to think otherwise.

          • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

            Since they don’t / won’t, how can we be chastised for drawing our own conclusions?

          • Anonymous

            Thank you, Chris.

        • Donnybeisbol

          Why isn’t anyone bringing up Daboll? Mangini’s refusal to drop the guy (or was he another Kokonis-like Man-puppet) certainly had something to do with the “not enough wins”.

          If Holmgren is being objective, he grades Mangini on how he has handled the team THIS year, and not how the team got to this point.

          Losing 4 in a row and the inept offensive mindset is certainly the nuts-and-bolts reason he got canned.

          Randy Lerner’s impatience has to be the other.
          Don’t forget, Lerner gobbled up Mangini before anyone else could get to him – and examine him, warts and all. Sometimes you let the others do your vetting for you, then see for yourself what the truth is.

          Or… just go right out there on a limb with your “gut”… as Lerner admittedly “doesn’t follow the sport”, Mangini’s admirable traits would certainly appeal to him. To be an NFL head coach circa 2010? That’s a different animal entirely…

          • Anonymous

            “Losing 4 in a row and the inept offensive mindset is certainly the nuts-and-bolts reason he got canned.”

            Still waiting for an explanation of why anyone would have been able to do better with what he was working with, especially by the end of the season with all the injuries.

            Thinking maybe you should stick to beisbol.

          • Anonymous

            “Losing 4 in a row and the inept offensive mindset is certainly the nuts-and-bolts reason he got canned.”

            Still waiting for an explanation of why anyone would have been able to do better with what he was working with, especially by the end of the season with all the injuries.

            Thinking maybe you should stick to beisbol.

  • Rmisra
  • Brian Sipe
  • Abc

    I’m here for Mangini’s funeral. Whoops, I mean to read about the Browns…

  • Jaceczko

    Wow. This is actually a lot more persuasive than I thought it would be going into it.

  • zarathustra

    It seems to me this ultimately has little to do with Mangini (who was most likely the best hope to return the browns to a winning tradition) and everything to do with the way to run an organization. There is simply no way anyone can say with a straight face that any of the reported candidates or holmgren himself would have posted a better record with this injury-plagued roster. So that leaves us with the sad realization that this organization is being run by either fools or liars. While some can sit by and put blind trust in the false humility of czar holmgren and his court of media sycophants I will not.
    The question now, sadly, is whether the organization and the people running it our worthy of allegiance.
    P.S. I do have enough self-awareness to understand that I may be overreacting to this, but this is where I’m at right now.

    • Other Dave

      Looking back, after 12 Browns games, there was talk on this site about the magic 5.5 projected wins for the Browns. At that point, the pro-Mangini group used that number as evidence of Mangini’s ability. After all, he already had 5 wins, and a quarter of the season to go.

      It doesn’t look as good now, having finished with 5 wins. And so the projection has dropped out of favor.

      But look at where you’re at now. This team was projected to win 5 or 6, and won 5. And yet there is “simply no way” anyone could have done better? To suggest as much makes someone a fool or a liar? These are the kind of comments that would fit if this team had a roster projected for 1-2 wins. I don’t think the roster was that bad, and neither did the man in charge.

      Mangini hit the projection dead on. Again I’ll say it: He did an OK job. There was no miracle here.

      It would be disheartening if Holmgren (nailed it) was throwing away an awesome coach to bring a middling one. But that doesn’t fit the facts. Holmgren might do better or worse, but you’re overrating Mangini and the job he did.

      I’d love to hear some outsider’s point of view on the situation. My guess: no one would be surprised that some Browns fans would have given Mangini more time (I would have). B

      ut they would be shocked that switching out Eric Mangini would make Browns fans question whether they should follow the team. You’d think he was the hottest coach out there.

      • zarathustra

        Ok. Starting at the 5-7 mark where everyone was feeling pretty good. No Fujitsu, wright, smith, yates, no mccoy for a few; hills and cribbs unproductive playing through injuries. Does Marty morningweg get you to six? How about john fox or holmgren? Since its all about records, both of their previous seasons suggest not. Putting the merits of mangini aside, it is my belief that circumstances matter in the first 2 years of a rebuild moreso than they do for a perennial contender–or even a coach in his third year. While the trendline may not have been as dramatically positive as it was in November it still was positive in my opinion. I just don’t think you fire a coach after year 2 in these circumstances where overall there was dramatic improvement on the field.

      • Jaceczko

        Ok, Other Dave, here’s your point in a nutshell: because Mangini hit the projection, he therefore didn’t do anything all that special, “[h]e did an OK job. There was no miracle here.”

        Here’s the problem with your logic.

        1.) The 1 – 5 start proved that the 5.5 projection was off. How? because being 1 – 3 already projects to 4 – 12. Being 1 – 5 projects to 3.75 – 12.25 in a 16-game season.

        2.) After six games, the big guys and the little guys are mostly separated; teams have given enough data to give a meaningful impression of what they are.

        3.) Enter Colt McPoise and the Super-Coached NO/NE/NYJ 2 – 1 set (I still think it was stupid not to go for two instead of playing for OT in the Jets game, by the way), and then the Delhomme-led JAX/CAR/MIA 2 – 1 set.

        4.) You just coached a 1 – 5 team, led by a rookie quarterback and Jake Delhomme, to a 4 – 2 record.

        Against Playoffteam,

        Playoffteam,

        Playoffteam,

        Divisionleadingplayoffhopeful,

        Lastplace,

        and Playoffhopeful.

        Again, you just coached a rookie qb and Jake Delhomme to 4 – 2 against a group of teams that finished the season at a nifty 53 – 43, or .552 (the toughest schedule in the NFL this year, beating out the Texans and Titans, who played a year’s worth of .547).

        My point?

        The preseason projection was too high, and even getting to it *was* a miracle.

        If you’re looking for proof, watch the tape on the New Orleans game. That was a freaking miracle. And it was all coaching and a couple of REALLY lucky breaks.

        Look at the tape on the New England game, after which Bill Belichick said himself that he was “outcoached”.

        • Other Dave

          Thanks for the reply. We have to admit it’s not a logic puzzle. The question is decoupling the coaching from the talent, and there’s no easy way to do that (baseball is a bit of different story). I was using the preseason prediction as a measure of talent, you are using the starting stretch of the season, and both approaches have their problems.

          I don’t think its a question that be solved, honestly, and yet it is at the heart of the debate that is going on here.

          • Anonymous

            Two things:

            1) Not sure how unsolvable it is, even on just a quick look at the quarterbacks, receivers, front seven, and the injuries.

            2) But say it is unsolvable: That’s the best reason there could be for not dumping a guy who was making obvious progress. If you think it’s unsolvable, then “not enough progress” goes completely out the window.

            Which is also to say that “the heart of the debate that’s going on here” is more than what you’re saying it is.

          • Other Dave

            Sorry, I meant that we aren’t going to solve it here. It’s a debate as old as the game — what credit and blame to give the coach/system rather than the players. Obviously, it’s Holmgren’s job to answer the question.

            Don’t agree on #2. But that discussion will probably appear on new threads.

          • Anonymous

            New threads and old threads. Here’s one that gets right to it (the part on Bud Shaw against all history):

            http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/2010/11/on-colt-mccoys-sunday-start-mangini-and-belichick-and-bud-shaw-against-all-history-on-holmgren/

            As for this: “Obviously, it’s Holmgren’s job to answer the question.”

            We’re just back to the “In Holmgren We Trust,” then, and questions about why we should.

            /fullcircle’d

          • Other Dave

            Not saying that we trust him because he’s making the decision, just point out that he has to answer the question. He’s looked at and so have you, and come to dramatically different conclusions.

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