When Eric met Tony: Exclusive Report on Plain Dealer Beat Writer’s Vendetta against Former Browns Coach

by Cleveland Frowns on February 14, 2011

Anyone who’s been paying attention to the Plain Dealer’s sports page over the last two and a half years can’t have missed a significant lack of objectivity in the paper’s coverage of Eric Mangini’s tenure as head coach of the Browns, especially in the work of beat writer Tony Grossi. Over the weekend, I had a second source confirm an account of the first personal encounter between Grossi and Mangini after Mangini was hired as head coach in Cleveland that helps explain at least some of what’s behind Grossi’s unrestrained animosity for the former Browns coach.

It happened in Indianapolis at the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine, held from February 18-24 that year. Mangini had been hired by the Browns little more than a month before, on January 8th, and the Browns hosted a breakfast event at an Indianapolis hotel where Mangini was to formally meet the Browns press for the first time, including a meet-and-greet, an on-record session to discuss general news, and an off-record session to discuss what Mangini’s procedures would be in dealing with the press.

After shaking hands, Mangini set to begin the program by asking the reporters in the room if they’d like to start on the record or off the record. “On the record,” Grossi immediately replied. “You’re not going to pull the same crap here [in Cleveland] that you did in New York.”

Mangini, startled, replied, explaining to Grossi that he thought he had some good relationships with members of the press in New York.

Grossi interrupted, “That’s not what I heard.”

After which Mangini asked that Grossi judge him based on the personal interaction between the two instead of what Grossi had heard from others.

With that start, the conference continued, eventually reaching the subject of player injuries. Mangini explained to the group that his policy would be to report on injuries as vaguely as possible, for reasons that a sharp first grader would understand. Mangini used the example of a defensive back with a sprained ankle to explain that the more an opponent knows about the severity of an injury, the better able the opponent is to tailor its game plan around the injury, such as by targeting a hobbled defensive back in the passing game.

Grossi challenged the coach’s explanation as “disingenuous” and “bullshit,” again startling Mangini as well as Grossi’s own colleagues in the room.

Mangini nevertheless managed to speak at length about unique and complex schemes he planned to institute with the Browns defense, and about his enthusiasm for the potential that Josh Cribbs could be worked in as a safety, but these items went essentially unreported.

Only one Plain Dealer piece currently available at the Cleveland.com archives looks to have resulted from this conference, filed on February 20. The piece makes passing mention of Cribbs playing defense, focusing mainly on the Derek Anderson vs. Brady Quinn quarterback controversy and the Browns’ free agency pursuits. Another piece filed by Grossi and Mary Kay Cabot on the same day has strangely been pulled from Cleveland.com, though its lede is still pictured on Page 14 of the February 2009 web archive: “Browns coach Eric Mangini doesn’t say much, so when he does say something definitive, it bears noting.”

Grossi also spent time in Indianapolis investigating whether Mangini’s comments on the Giants running back could be considered tampering (no less an authority than Giants GM Floyd Reese shortly called it “much ado about nothing”), and filed reports on the hiring of linebackers coach Floyd Eberflus, and the Browns’ vacancy at the wide receivers coach position. Another “Browns Insider” column that looks to have been filed by Grossi (but published on the web by Jamie Turner) leads by noting that “Nobody has accused the Browns’ new management team of being warm and fuzzy,” and that “Coach Eric Mangini and General Manager George Kokinis haven’t even met most of their own players in roughly one month on the job.”

And most tellingly, Grossi published the following exchanges in his February 21, 2009 mailbag column, shortly after having met Mangini at the Combine:

Hey, Tony: Would you please quit your personal vendetta against the new Browns regime? It’s unfounded and contrived, if you ask me. Have you ever thought that the new brass may be too busy evaluating the team, free agency / trades, college players to draft, along with developing a team plan on offense, defense, and special teams with all the new coaches to have the time to satiate all your requests? Let them do their job and worry about these things later when it matters come training camp. — Kyle Chormanski, South Bend, Ind.

Hey, Kyle: I love these questions. So you’re saying you don’t care to know everything there is to know about the team? So I’m the bad guy for asking for 10 minutes of their time? These people are making millions of dollars a year to build a football team. Shouldn’t they be expected to communicate with the customers through the media?


Hey, Tony: In your Feb. 14th Hey, Tony, you responded to a question with a lecture about how the media didn’t run Belichick out of town. What you failed to do, however, was answer his question, which was: “How come when a Browns coach doesn’t want to openly share information, he is vilified in the Cleveland press?” Please oblige. — Steve Carpenter, Charlotte, N.C.

Hey, Steve: I just feel it’s part of their job to share information — not give up the state secrets — with their customers through the media. They are running a football team, not the search for Osama Bin Laden.

Less than two months into Mangini’s tenure as head coach, readers had already identified a ‘personal vendetta’ on the part of Grossi for the coach, and Grossi basically copped to it. As far as I can tell, it’s no more complex than that Grossi figured he’d have to work harder to produce columns with Mangini on the job, for whatever reason, no matter if the columns he’d have to work harder to produce would end up being better columns, and no matter if the procedure would be better for his employer and the Browns franchise.

Folks close to the situation will say that Mangini could have been better in dealing with the press (and his players) at the start, including Mangini himself, whom everyone agrees had been making significant improvement on that front in his second year in Cleveland. And of course, reasonable people can disagree about Grossi’s impact on Mangini’s tenure in Cleveland, about the role of the press, the importance of the reporters representing the people of Cleveland in the Browns facilities every day, about the importance of tone, how the town’s view of the Browns impacts the Browns themselves, and about what we lose when a leading reporter’s grudge infects all of it.

But nobody should have to worry about these questions to the degree we do in Cleveland with Grossi on the beat. No head coach should have to start with any team’s press the way Eric Mangini had to start with the Browns’ and Grossi here.

  • Ben K

    No one was as bad as Pat McManamon when he was at ABJ. He foamed at the mouth writing agianst Mangini from day 1.

    • Anonymous

      McManamon was bad, too. He was sore about some of his friends having been fired right when Mangini took over. He thought it was Mangini’s decision to fire them, but it turned out that it wasn’t.

  • Biki

    I’m assuming you mean their first personal interaction with Mangini being the Browns HC because Tony Grossi was the beat writer for the Browns during the 94 and 95 seasons, when Mangini was a ball boy and then a PR intern. It seems to me that in 95, as a PR intern, Mangini probably had plenty of personal interactions, possibly daily, with Grossi. While I don’t doubt your sources about whatever encounter Grossi and Mangini had 2.5 years ago, it definitely was not their first personal interaction.

    So Tony Grossi ran Mangini out of town?? What happened to nepotism and cronyism?? A little of both?? Maybe Grossi wouldn’t seem so incompetent if Holmgren had just fired Mangini as soon as he came in. It was obvious to most reasonable people that a new regime 95% of the time (if not higher) hand-picks their HC and that the chances of success when a Front Office and a Coaching staff are used to running and staffing completely different schemes and speaking “different languages” are slim to none.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, that’s exactly what I meant. Good assumption. And yes, having a reporter like Grossi on the case certainly makes for friendlier conditions for nepotism, cronyism, and general dishonesty.

      Holmgren said he stayed up all night deciding whether he was going to keep Mangini. Who knows if a close call goes the other way in different weather.

      Whatever you want to say about schemes and languages, the fact remains that we’ve never seen a head coach of an obviously improving NFL team get fired before.

      • Biki

        We’ve also rarely seen an NFL team be successful when the coaching staff and front office are not on the same page. I have asked time after time for anyone to give an example and no one ever seems to come up with one. I would rather side with history than taking a leap of faith on hoping that the Cleveland Browns are going to make NFL history.

        • Anonymous

          That’s because the focus on “philosophies” and “languages” is a new trend, and again, one that Holmgren himself went on record as saying is horseshit. You’re assuming your conclusion when you say the coaching staff and front office weren’t on the “same page.” Still waiting for someone to explain how they weren’t. The best we’ve heard is from folks who think they should have passed more with the rotating group of fifth string quarterbacks and third string receivers, and about two field goals on 4th and short. The team was improving, which is the only page that should count. Anyway, this is getting off-topic.

          • Biki

            Holmgren obviously misspoke. Holmgren, Heckert, and even Mangini on ESPN when he talked about the Shurmur hiring said that being on the same page is very important. Mangini went on to say that he liked Shurmur a lot when interviewing him but decided to go with Schotty because they had similar philosophies.

            No it is not going off-topic because I don’t believe that Grossi’s incompetence (and I agree with you that we deserve better from Grossi) had anything to do with Holmgren and Heckert’s decision to make a change.

          • Anonymous

            Yeah, “Holmgren obviously misspoke.” Right. And when he kept Mangini for 2010, too. The Holmgren era has been marked by all kinds of misspeaking.

            Re: Mangini and Schottenheimer: Hiring a coordinator (or anyone) fresh for an already vacant position and firing a head coach (or anyone) who was making obvious progress at a difficult job are two very different things.

          • Biki

            Plus, actions speak louder than words, Holmgren and Heckert are changing everything to what they know, the WCO and the 4-3.

        • Anonymous

          What “page” was the Steelers organization on, what “language” was Kevin Colbert speaking, what “philosophy” were they employing when they hired Tomlin?

          And Ozzie Newsome and Ravens when they hired Harbaugh?


          • Biki

            it was THEIR CHOICE TO DO SO!!! not the other way around. Holmgren and Heckert tried it and it didn’t work, so they are obviously doing things the way that they are accustomed to.

            Was Colbert and Ozzie there before Tomlin and Harbaugh?? Yessir

          • Anonymous

            Hard to say it “didn’t work” when the team shocked the world with its competitiveness until a rash of injuries hit.

          • Biki

            that 1-5 start prior to the “rash of injuries” sure shocked the world too. It shocked me too, to the tune of $10K

          • Anonymous

            Yeah, most people were expecting 2-4, though the Browns were favored in exactly one of those six games, so I don’t know how “shocking” the 1-5 start really could have been.

          • Biki

            plus Tomlin and Harbaugh were able to adjust to the existing infrastructure that Colbert and Newsome had built. Tomlin coming from a Cover 2 background and then working with LeBeau on the 3-4. Harbaugh coming from a 4-3 to a 3-4. The coaches were the ones who made the adjustment to how the Front Office was used to doing things, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

          • Anonymous

            WHY ARE YOU SO MAD?

            Holmgren explicitly said he wasn’t going to ask Mangini to do everything “his way” and that it wouldn’t make sense to. Fact remains, no non-Al Davis-led regime has fired a coach of an obviously improving football team in NFL history.

          • Biki

            who said I’m mad?? i just want you to give me examples of when a new Front Office comes in and keeps the incumbent head coach, other than Jeff Fischer and Bill Cowher, which are the only 2 that I can think of in the past 20 some years.

            you mentioned Harbaugh and Tomlin, those were cases where they were hired by the GM, not the other way around.

          • Anonymous

            It’s good that you can come up with two off the bat, but bringing in a new front office with a head coach already in place is such a rare occurrence that it doesn’t seem worth analyzing. Again, point is that coaches who are doing good at their jobs don’t get fired.

          • Biki

            yeah because typically the coaches get fired with the front office regime that brought the coach in, oh wait, there wasn’t one, it was Lerner, and Lerner can’t fire himself. Although he sort of did by handing over all decisions to Holmgren. Holmgren will sugar coat it all he wants about how he didn’t waste a year by not kicking Mangini to the curb his 1st day on the job, but he was one of the few new regimes in NFL history to not fire the HC almost immediately. This is the major injustice you should be writing about, not a daily post about what Tony Grossi wrote 2.5 years ago.

        • Captain Spaulding

          Which, again, begs the question: Why wasn’t Mangini fired after the ’09 season?

          My guess is they wanted to be able to do exactly what Heckert did in this interview: Blame Mangini for the failures they would undoubtedly suffer in ’10.

          These quotes from Heckert show that he is trying to deflect any blame for the ’10 season. However, if these quotes were provided by anyone but Grossi, I would be much more inclined to believe that they are accurate, so I’m willing to give Heckert the benefit of the doubt (which is considerable).

          Either way, Frowns is right; I doubt Heckert will ever give Grossi this kind of access ever again, so we can probably expect some Heckert-bashing articles from Grossi to start popping up in the coming months.

          • Biki

            I agree it was foolish for Holmgren and Heckert to believe that they could make NFL history by keeping the incumbent coach and go on to be a successful team, it has rarely happened.

            Unless this interview was promised to be on background, Heckert needs to be responsible for everything that comes out of his mouth and has to assume that it is all fair game to be printed. Don’t shoot the messenger.

          • Captain Spaulding

            I’m not shooting the messenger, I just don’t trust that those quotes are accurate given his history of Mangini-bashing.

            Either way, I think it’s safe to say that either Heckert won’t be granting Grossi this kind of access anytime soon OR the decision to keep Mangini for a year was done only so they could do what Heckert did in the interview; blame Mangini for what was never going to be a successful season, regardless of the coach.

          • Anonymous

            Good lord. All of this is predicated on a very big an unsupported assumption that Holmgren and Heckert are fundamentally dishonest.

            Why is it impossible that, as he says, he thought Mangini was a smart guy, thought the diverse minds theory could work, and wanted to actually work with him to see if the arrangement could work out? Then when watching how that all played out, decided there were costly communication gaps (Mitchell??) and decisions he disagreed with (run ’til you drop). And that yeah, he wants his coach to go for it on 4th and goal from the 1 in the first quarter, because that’s what the numbers say you do if you’ve taken 6th grade math, and when you don’t do it you’re saying you’re smarter than the numbers.

            With apologies to all the “obvious improvement” folks, first, it would be almost impossible not to improve from 2009 with the new players that came in, second, we looked great in exactly 2 games, good in 1, mediocre in 6, and like total garbage in the rest. We lost to two teams that finished below even our sorry 5-11 butts. We lost to a mediocre team after getting a +5 in turnovers. We beat one of the worst teams of the decade because they missed a pretty easy last second field goal. Worts of all, we were nothing like competitive against the team we really need to beat, the Steelers. We were what our record says we were, a pretty bad team.

          • Anonymous

            You are really bending over backwards here. The two biggest reasons you cite for Holmgren justifiably concluding that it was a good idea to fire the coach of an obviously improving football team are 1) that it didn’t play a 4-3 defensive end who was obtained for a seventh round pick, and 2) that it didn’t throw downfield more often with McCoy, Delhomme, Wallace, Robiskie, Stuckey and Co.

            This team had nothing to work with in the first place, a rash of key injuries left it with even less, and they only lost by more than a touchdown four times, only once by more than ten points.

          • Anonymous

            Also, while hubris is fundamental, and also a form of dishonesty, it’s really something different from the “fundamental dishonesty” you speak of, and not really uncommon at all in NFL front offices.

          • Captain Spaulding

            I’m just saying they had no intent to keep Mangini past 2010 and their recent actions have done nothing but support that notion. They can’t say “diverse minds are good” one year and then “everyone must be on the same page” the next without being at least a little dishonest.

            Whatever else about the record and the all-pro prospect Jamie Mitchell, it really wouldn’t have mattered. Mangini was gone the day Holmgren was hired, they just didn’t want to pin an inevitably shitty season on a guy they hired themselves. It makes perfect sense, but it’s far from honest.

      • Ronnie

        Marty, 9-7 to 14-2 to fired –> Maybe AJ Smith thought Marty had gotten all he could out of this team. So maybe we don’t count him.

        Tom Cable, 5-11 to 8-8 to fired –> This one baffles me, honestly. The team was a laughingstock, and he had them playing pretty good football.

        • Anonymous

          The Marty thing was unique because he’d flopped in the playoffs so many times, but you can still question the decision.

          Good call on Cable, too. So Al Davis is our only real comparable here.

          • Anonymous

            To piggyback off of that, Marty had an incredible 2nd half in his only year in DC and was fired by the megalomaniac Dan Snyder.

          • Anonymous

            Al Davis and Dan Snyder.

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

          You beat me to the punch with Cable! They went undefeated in their division and Al Davis fires him? I am assuming Cable’s off the field drama had to do with the firing.

        • Stkoran

          I think Cable would have been gone even if they won the Super Bowl. Davis absolutely hated him. Decision had nothing to do with “systems” or “philosophies.”

        • Nicholas

          Or what about Belichek after the team moved? He’d been showing obvious improvement except of course for that last season which had some pretty major extenuating circumstances. I think I read one time that Lerner only pulled the trigger there because they wanted a “Fresh face for the new city” or something.

      • StoneRoad

        What about Shottenheimer with the Chargers? Pretty sure they won their division and insane amount of games and he got canned after winning 14 games, the cause being drama between Marty and the GM, A.J. whatshisface. Anyways, i enjoy reading the blog, but Im getting a little bored with picking at Mangini’s grave. I thought he made progress too, but he’s gone, i think its time to move on. Yes, Grossi is terrible, but your too good a writer to spend half your time worrying about that clown.

        • Anonymous

          Thanks, but this is history we’re talking about here, and not any I’m looking to have repeat itself.

      • Biki

        maybe you should change your title then, because it was not “When Eric met Tony”, it was “When Eric met Tony for probably the 1000th time, but the 1st time as Browns HC”

        • Anonymous

          Semantics. Head Coach Eric was a new Eric.

  • eldaveablo

    I may not know if humanity is the major reason for climate change, but I know we’re not helping. That’s kind of how I view Grossi’s coverage of Mangini. It’s a shame that a local beat writer with an axe to grind played a role in a good coach getting fired, but it’s just a (sad) reality in Cleveland.

    Yes, I just compared Grossi to the burning of fossil fuels. I’m a little proud of that.

    • Anonymous

      You should be.

  • Terry O.

    To me, Heckert’s “blame game” comments were the most troubling part of the article. He comes across as a disingenuous weasel (“I didn’t do it – Eric did it, I saw him”).

    • Captain Spaulding

      Agreed. However, given that Grossi is the one doing the “reporting” here, I’m more inclined to give Heckert the benefit of the doubt (I can see Grossi trapping Heckert with some questions and twisting some words around to generate the quotes he came up with).

      These are some troubling quotes though, and it points the the notion that the only reason Mangini was kept for the 2010 season was so the new regime could pin the inevitable losing season on him rather than themselves. I can’t imagine how anyone could see it any other way.

      • Biki

        Years from know you’ll be telling your grandkids about the great conspiracy of 2010 when the Browns traded disgruntled backup running Jerome Harrison for Mike Bell!! Mind you, this trade went down when Hillis was dominating the NFL in rushing yards and TDs, so I guess you’re also inferring that Holmgren and Heckert had to have known that Hillis was going to get hurt, or maybe they even contributed to injuring Hillis. ??? I mean we’re talking about a backup RB who hadn’t contributed much at all during the season and was starting to become a distraction in the locker room. Just like Heckert said, he wasn’t totally against moving Harrison, and Jerome barely cracked the field for Philly, while Bell didn’t do half bad for us.

        • Captain Spaulding

          What are you talking about?

          • Biki

            you said in your posts above that you think that Holmgren and Heckert set Mangini up to fail so they could blame it on him. I really don’t understand how that makes any sense. The buck starts and stops with Holmgren, so why he would keep Mangini around another year to fail is beyond me. They all felt that they could work together and it seems like it was pretty clear to them at the end of the year that they couldn’t.

            re: Harrison trade, I don’t think Heckert was complaining about the Harrison/Bell trade, because in fact, I think it’s fair to say that Harrison never recovered from his hammy injuries and we got some half-way decent production out of Bell when he was in the game.

            I think the Mitchell trade is being blown out of proportion as well, we gave up what, a 7th rounder for him??

            I think it’s time for Frownie to get his press credentials so he can start asking Holmgren, Heckert, and Shurmur the tough questions instead of some of the crap we get from Grossi.

          • Captain Spaulding

            I don’t think they set him up to fail, I think they had no intention of him coaching the team past 2010. Given the recent actions of the new regime, I don’t understand how anyone could see it any other way.

            They didn’t think it would work, and they knew it didn’t matter who was coaching the team in 2010 because they did not have the talent to make the playoffs. So, why hire your own coach when you know the 2010 team is going to suck regardless of the coach? Wouldn’t that make Holmgren look bad? Of course it would, so why not let Mangini coach in 2010, lose a bunch of games like any other coach in the league would have done with that roster, and then fire him and find your own guy in 2011 after you’ve had a year to upgrade the roster?

            That’s what they did Biki. If you are dense enough to believe they were giving Mangini a fair shot, then I don’t know what else to say.

          • Biki

            don’t forget the $4 million they saved Lerner. But how exactly did they not give Mangini a fair shot? What did they do to sabotage him?? Signing Jake Delhomme (ok, bad example, although I don’t think we saw a healthy Jake in any of the games he played), Seneca, and Brown, trading for Gocong, Brown, Hillis, drafting Haden, Ward, and McCoy???

            i was definitely surprised and disappointed that Holmgren decided to keep Mangini last year, but maybe they agreed that they would give it a shot and see if they could all work together. i think it’s fair to say that they felt they weren’t able to work together in the way that Holmgren and Heckert expected so he’s gone. As someone who didn’t want Mangini coaching the Browns in the first place, I really don’t need to know anything more. It’s obvious they wanted to bring in their own guy(s) which is status quo in the NFL.

            it is what it is and luckily most of the damage that Savage did to our salary cap implications are mostly gone, and we have a fairly clean slate to start a proper rebuild with plenty of young core players to build around (Thomas, Mack, Hillis, McCoy, Ward, Haden, Benard, Rubin, etc)

          • Captain Spaulding

            “It’s obvious they wanted to bring in their own guy(s)”

            Which is why it’s obvious they never had any intent to keep Mangini past 2010. I never mentioned sabotage or setting up to fail, they didn’t have to, the roster was set up for any coach to fail and they knew they couldn’t fix it in 2010 so why bring in their own guy?

          • Terry O.

            “the roster was set up for any coach to fail and they knew they couldn’t fix it in 2010 so why bring in their own guy?’

            Try because it would have been the smart (and honest) move. Consider the ramifications of bringing in their “own guy(s)” including a change in defensive philosophy and resultant required roster changes.

            Instead of doing all of this in early 2010, with no closely threatening CBA issues, H&H wait until early 2011 when a nasty CBA storm is on the horizon (shouldn’t these two geniuses have anticipated this). The result of their “strategery” is 1) a wasted year. 2) a shortened & perhaps non existent free agent signing period in a year when the team can least afford it (i.e., a year when they changed to a 4-3 & created @ least 4 holes on the d side.)

            This is one of the big reasons the H&H boys do not impress me. I mean What Was Their Strategy?

          • Captain Spaulding

            I’m not saying it was the right thing to do Terry, I’m just saying it’s obvious that’s what they did. Wouldn’t you agree?

            Also, I’m not ready to bury Holmgren & Heckert, I just think they aren’t the wholesome, honest, “ah shucks it didn’t work out” kind of guys that Biki and Bup think they are. All of this is fine as long as their plan comes together. If not, I wouldn’t be shocked if they are both gone in a few years.

          • Terry O.

            “I’m not saying it was the right thing to do Terry, I’m just saying it’s obvious that’s what they did. Wouldn’t you agree?”

            Yes, agreed. And I’m not ready to bury H&H either but my confidence in them has been severely shaken, particularly their strategic decision making, which after all, is what Holmgren is here for.

          • Biki

            yeah, Holmgren’s contract is up in 4 years, i don’t expect him to stick around either way… where did you order your crystal ball from!?! i want one!

          • Captain Spaulding

            “Holmgren’s contract is up in 4 years, i don’t expect him to stick around either way”

            This is a problem. Do you want a team president who’s trying to slap together a team that might get to the super bowl in 4 years or a president who wants to build a legitimate franchise that can compete for the long haul? No that they are mutually exclusive, but if he has a deadline to meet, he’s more likely to take shortcuts. Shortcuts don’t work in the NFL.

          • Biki

            we obviously have different opinions of what Holmgren’s intentions are. fortunately for me, i have been living outside of Cleveland for the past 16 years and can jump on the bandwagons of other teams if the Browns falter, J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets! LOL

            no but seriously, if you were on this blog a couple years ago, you would know that I was very much against Mangini coming to the Browns due to me following the Jets for the 3 years that he was here, so I really don’t care about the reasons of why it didn’t work out for him and feel much more excited about the future of the team with him gone.

          • Biki

            BTW, I made the mistake of listening to WKNR while I was in NEO recently and heard LeCharles go on about how he had talked to several Browns players who said that Holmgren and Haskell would make suggestions to Daboll about the offensive gameplan and that Mangini would not allow the plays to be in the final call sheet. So I’d have to imagine that probably irked Holmgren a bit too. He definitely didn’t seem like he was happy with the offensive playcalling in that one presser he had at the midpoint of the season.

          • Captain Spaulding

            Don’t use WKNR to support your argument, it doesn’t help

          • Biki

            I don’t think LeCharles falls in the same category as some of the other talking heads at WKNR. I could see how he could have some insight on what’s going on in Berea with his relationships with players on the team.

          • Captain Spaulding

            I still don’t understand what that previous post was all about, I haven’t mentioned the Harrison trade at all.

          • Biki

            “these are some troubling quotes”

            my apologies if I assumed incorrectly that you weren’t referring to the quotes about the Harrison trade . However, I believe those are the only quotes in the entire post, so what quotes are troubling??

          • Captain Spaulding

            The quotes from Heckert implicating Mangini for the failures of the 2010 team are troubling. They are less troubling given that they have been provided (out of context) by a guy who has shown a reluctance to print anything remotely positive about Mangini. Read below, I blame Grossi for the quotes given the lack of context, Heckert’s general inexperience with professional weasels, and Grossi’s history of bashing Mangini.

            No need to apologize, you just went off on a tangent there about something I never really mentioned.

        • Anonymous

          I think you’ve lost the thread of the narrative, Biki. And Bell did do at least half bad for us.

          • Biki

            you’re assuming Harrison would’ve done better. Mangini wanted him out of the locker room so be gone JH!

      • Anonymous

        “so the new regime could pin the inevitable losing season on him”

        Why couldn’t they have done that whether they kept him or not? He was unquestionably responsible for the majority of the roster makeup in 2010.

        And nowhere is Heckert saying we would have been better if the coach had done any specific thing differently. He is simply explaining why moves were made and in the case of Mitchell basically implying there was a disconnect. I’m really having a hard time reading into this the way you guys are. Everyone knows Mangini doghoused Harrison, it’s public record. Why do you think this isn’t the truth, and what is Heckert supposed to say?

        • Captain Spaulding

          It just makes sense that they would rather blame Mangini for a season that was never going to yield more than 5-6 wins than to hire their own coach and have him take the heat. Is it really that hard to understand?

          And I don’t care about the Harrison trade or the Mitchell trade, I don’t think either one of those moves cost the team any wins.

    • eldaveablo

      Yeah, I’m with the Captain here. I’d like to see the video of this interview. It is too easy for me to picture Grossi digging and digging for negative comments, ignoring Heckert’s first attempts at being PC in regards to Mangini.

      Still troubling that these things were said at all. I really want to believe Heckert is the right man for the job, now I am a little less hopeful. Just a little though.

      • Captain Spaulding

        Yea, I still think Heckert is a quality GM/talent evaluator, he’s just not equipped to deal with a professional weasel who’s trying to pry negative quotes out of him. This is probably why he doesn’t do many interviews/press conferences; he’s a personnel guy, not a coach.

        Anyways, until I hear Heckert utter these words, I’ll take the quotes Grossi has provided us (completely lacking any sort of context btw) with a grain of salt. I blame these quotes on Grossi given his history of looking for anything negative to print about Mangini.

        It will be interesting to see, however, how much access Grossi is granted by Heckert/Holmgren moving forward, and how his tone changes in the coming months if that access is limited.

    • Drumbiker

      That was a little surprising, but could just be someone (Heckert) being too honest for their own good. I haven’t watched the presser again to confirm, but I believe at his introduction Holmgren made some comments about “Letting Eric run his team” – even going as far as to jokingly say he would have “Enough rope to hang himself”. Maybe it wasn’t so much of a joke?

      The GM would have to rely on the input of the Coach that is spending the most time with his players. The GM (hopefully) isn’t there every minute of every practice and meeting. If Mangini suggested he wanted Harrison gone, Heckert’s job would be to trade him get him a running back of whatever value attainable.

      You could argue that Heckert should have tried for something more than Bell and a less convienent trade partner than the Eagles. That trade reminds me a little of moving up one draft position to ensure the Ravens could get Ngata.

      Comments from Heckert about the Mitchell trade seem to confirm that Heckert and Holmgren were letting Mangini run the team as he see fit. Mangini watched tape, went to management saying he wanted the guy. Then, after the front office gives up a draft pick you never put the guy on the field?

      These are the types of actions that when left unexplained to your superiors lead to your dismissal.

      • http://twitter.com/cnp3 Chris P.


        You mean Tom Heckert, who job it is to maintain the 53 man roster is unable to establish an opinion contrary to his head coach, and if he is able to establish it, will not make a personnel decision based upon it?

        Why even have a general manager?

        • Anonymous

          Scenario 1:

          Mangini: I’m not going to play Harrison anymore. He’s a cancer and I want him gone.

          Heckert: No. I think he’s better than what I can get and since I’m responsible for the roster, you just keep him.

          Mangini: Fine, but I won’t play him.

          Heckert: What’s the problem with him?

          Mangini: Too hard to manage. Wants the ball. Hillis gets the ball on this team, you know that, Tom, everyone knows that.

          Heckert: Yes, that has become very clear. Maybe just like 5 or 10 carries though, you know, change of pace?

          Mangini: No, he’ll say bad things about The Process, he has to go or sit.

          Heckert: Well no, if I trade a better back for a worse one, then people will say I’m stupid, so you just have to keep him.

          Scenario 2:

          Mangini: I’m not going to play Harrison anymore. He’s a cancer and I want him gone.

          Heckert: I’m not sure what we can get for him, maybe no better than Mike Bell. You want him?

          Mangini: Fine, he has no upside and will mail it in, but he’s one of the few backs in the league that will take it as a plus that 95% of our calls go to Hillis.

          Heckert: I’ll see what I can do.

          I don’t love either of these scenarios.

          • http://twitter.com/cnp3 Chris P.

            I think I’m madly, passionately in love with those scenarios.

            Because what I think happened is this.

            Mangini: I’m not going to play Harrison anymore, he’s not good for the team, and the way he practices, I don’t think he can contribute during the game.
            Heckert: Eric, I agree, I’ll get the best player I can for him.

            later that day….

            Holmgren: Are you sure getting rid of harrison is best for the team? I’d only trade him if I could get value for him
            Heckert: Mike, I agree, I’ll get the best player I can for him.

            fast forward…..

            Grossi: Jesus, that eye-talian rube Mangini sure swallowed the big one when he burned the Harrison bridge
            Heckert: Tony, I agree, I got the best player I could for him.


            I’m yet to see Heckert come forward and articulate anything resembling a player personnel strategy for the development of this franchise. The only person I’ve heard articulate this over the past 6 or so years is Mangini, and I don’t even think he was that great at articulating it – although he was improving.

            We haven’t had a GM even try do this since.. what… since Dwight Clark left? Not that he was even any good, but cripe, It’s pushing TEN years since we had a GM conduct press conferences about player moves? Really? Is that how this crap-can franchise is continuing to be run? They made Mangini the face of personnel moves, because they didn’t want the heat.

            So forgive me for not having much faith in what I see.

        • Drumbiker

          I think in this instance the GM was “unable to establish an opinion contrary to his head coach”, which is why Harrison was traded. Heckert was also the person that brought Bell to Philly, so he must have thought he had value.

          The GM also, that early in the season – would likely defer to the HC that had spent the last season having his ass saved by the same player he was looking to jettison. There had to be some pretty serious reason for Mangini to go to Heckert and say “I want this guy gone”.

          The GM’s job is to work in concert with the HC, not against him.

          • Anonymous

            So why throw the HC under the bus after signing on to his moves?

          • Drumbiker

            Some people are putting an awful lot of trust in the accuracy Tony Grossi’s reporting to generate this much conversation – not to mention distrust in Heckert.

            I’m taking the quotes as I said – innocent of bad intention and possibly overly honest. Especially if Heckert was unaware of Grossi’s utter disdain for Mangini and how his comments may be shaped in the newspaper to that end.

          • Anonymous

            So why throw the HC under the bus after signing on to his moves?

    • Nicholas

      He also sounds kinda Savagely delusional, doesn’t he?

      “Jaime Mitchell was far and away our best pass rusher”

      “Travis Wilson is a starting caliber wide receiver”

  • Biki

    man i think a lot of people would pay to see a “twitter-off” with you and Grossi.. make it happen Frownie! for as much as you pile on the guy and discredit his livelihood, i think it would be great to see you too square off and for him to address all your concerns.

  • http://twitter.com/cnp3 Chris P.

    Either the general manager of the Cleveland Browns is unable to accept responsibility for personnel moves that don’t work out


    Tom Heckert, dictator of the 53 man roster, (a power that he refused to leave Philadelphia if he dod not attain) is unable to stand up to his head coach on a backup running back (A BACKUP RUNNING BACK?!?!?!?).


    If he’s unable to be responsible for decisions relating to the 53 man roster, or if he felt honestly at the time that trading said backup running back diminished the team’s ability to compete, then he is not capable of doing his job and should be fired immediately.

    When I read this PD article this weekend, this set of two quotes scared me more than anything I ever heard out of Butch and Pete. And those two scared me a lot.

    • Terry O.


      What Chris P. said.

      This new regime is frightening.

      Big Show (BS) moves:
      1) Keep a coach who does not share his philosophy.

      2) Bring in an Eddie Haskell clone of a GM who shares his philosophy but not his coaches.

      3) Brings in an obviously washed up Jake Delhomme to play QB.

      4) He then fires the coach (after one year of obvious improvement), wasting a precious year in the lives of all (especially us old) Brown’s fans.

      5) He then brings in a new HC who shares his philosophy (which will require major personnel changes particularly on the defensive side). He does it with an NFL lockout looming on the horizon with its potentially very limited free agent signing period (just when we need a boat load of free agents to fill all these holes he’s created).

      6) He mandates a new (4-3) defense which has demonstrably been shown to be the lesser scheme:
      [Based on a study of the past 10 seasons (2000-2009) – Defenses employing the 3-4 tend to yield 1.4% fewer successful plays (for the offense) than 4-3 defenses. They tend to allow 2.5 fewer EPA (Expected Points Added ) per game, giving their teams an additional 6.6% greater chance of winning each game. This would roughly be the equivalent of home field advantage. Details here:

      • Biki

        5) obvious improvement?? we were one of the worst teams in the history of the league for the first 12 games, of course we made improvement, especially with the influx of talent that came in.

        Hey, if you want to be doom and gloom, that’s your business, I sure as heck was when Lerner decided to hire Mangini, especially prior to hiring a GM. And we proceeded to go 10-22, so maybe my concerns were legit.

        As someone that is cautiously optimistic about our Front Office, Cap Space, Draft slot, and current core of young players, I’m not as doom and gloom as some of you.

        I’d just like to see how the roster looks before we start writing these guys off, we have a real opportunity to improve the talent level on this roster, so let’s see how they do.

        • Anonymous

          “we proceeded to go 10-22, so maybe my concerns were legit. ”

          Concerns that a team with the worst roster in the NFL wouldn’t make the playoffs? Really, go to Cleveland.com if you’re going to post crap like this.

          Also, most teams get at least two draft picks who should be starting caliber, so they’re all even on that front. Where else was this “influx of talent” other than Fujita? Delhomme, Wallace and McCoy? That’s an “influx” alright. But this “of course we made improvement with all this talent” idea is absurd as well.

          • Biki

            “most teams get at least two draft picks who should be starting caliber” um, you’ve watched the Browns these past 12 years right? Joe Thomas is the only top draft pick lately that has been considered a legit “influx of talent” via draft lately. It seems to me when have add talent like Haden and Ward it is considered an “influx of talent”, I don’t care how we got them. the Browns started 1-12, one of the worst teams in NFL history, it’s not hard to make improvement from that. i don’t care how you slice it. and making the leap from 1-12, to going 9-11 the rest of the way with the talent we had is definitely improvement, however making that next leap is what every team tries to do, it doesn’t always mean that the team will in fact make that leap. I am comfortable with the fact that Holmgren and Heckert did not feel that they would be able to make that next leap with Mangini. obviously some of you are not.

  • Anonymous

    Good post Frownie, and this one is written in a way that allows me to more or less agree with you. Horsefish is lazy, stupid, has an agenda, and apparently acts like a prick. In this, he varies from most other beatwriters in being excessively lazy and probably exceeds many in prickishness. But they all want to sell as many papers as possible and they all want to give out as much information as possible, and I think that fact should be (and generally is) understood by the organizations. I really think professionals can deal with it. As far as “changing the weather,” I really think wins and losses are what make it rain or shine. So I’ll continue to believe that Mangini making objectively bad numbers calls in 2 close games we lost had more impact on the weather and the decision than horsefish’s vendetta.

    But hey, start a petition to out Grossi and I’ll sign.

    That said… there is a little burying the lead here. Vendetta’s, bad blood, and horsefishes aside, all the facts presented point to a disconnect between front office and coach. This is the very thing those of us who shrug our shoulders at l’affair Mangini have cited as the danger of the “diverse minds” theory again and again. The Jaime Mitchell situation is inexplicable in any other context; we traded away a draft pick for someone the FO apparently thought was supposed to be the best pass rusher on our team, and the guy never played a down and is now a free agent. That is a big fat blinking red light right there. So, like certain talking heads,, when offered the organic beauty of the diverse minds theory in the future, I can rebut it by pointing at Jaime Mitchell and saying “how’d he get there? How’d Jaime Mitchell get there? How come we have that, and the Vikings don’t have that? The Steelers don’t have that. Why’s he there? How’d he get there?” I don’t see an answer to that question that reflects well on the idea of keeping H&H and M here together, fair or not.

    • Captain Spaulding

      Perhaps the Mitchell situation went something like this:

      1) Mangini knew he was going to be fired at the end of the season (he probably knew this the day Holmgren decided to retain him for 2010, given the lack of talent on the roster and the likelihood that the team would win no more than 6 games)

      2) Holmgren & Heckert wanted to get a look at Mitchell, so gave up a 7th rounder to see him play, Mangini says “sure”

      3) Mitchell arrives and Mangini says, “fuck these guys, I’m getting fired at the end of the year anyways, if they want to see him play, they can sign him as a free agent.”

      Just a thought, but I do think Mangini knew he was a lame duck coach and he would be the scapegoat (again) for a new regime that was well aware that this team did not yet have the talent necessary to win more than 5-6 games.

    • Anonymous

      “When offered the organic beauty of the diverse minds theory in the future, I can rebut it by pointing at Jaime Mitchell and saying “how’d he get there? … I don’t see an answer to that question that reflects well on the idea of keeping H&H and M here together, fair or not.”

      Why doesn’t this reflect poorly on H&H more than anything else? To be complaining to the press about a guy they traded for not seeing the field in Mangini’s 3-4 when he “never played in a 3-4 defense at any level,” “doesn’t have a body that would ever fit in that scheme,” and was available for a seventh round pick in the first place?

      There could be a number of reasons why he never saw the field, and a number of good reasons he might not have are obvious. We also don’t know whose idea it was to trade for Mitchell in the first place, or why, who drove the process, etc., but you’re reading an awful lot into the trade of a seventh round pick.

      • Anonymous

        It may very well reflect poorly on H&H. That isn’t the point, unless you want this “controversy” to be about whether or not we should have fired H&H and put Mangini and whoever he wanted to pick as GM back in charge, in other words, go back to 2008.

        The point is that the front office went out and got someone that apparently the coach didn’t ask for but that they believed was important to the team. The coach never played him, and the front office doesn’t know why. So no part of that upsets you eh?

        It’s a small move, maybe inconsequential (although I happen to disagree that you can’t play a Mitchell type situationally in the 3-4). But indicative. A late round pick just evaporated apparently simply because guys weren’t talking. But the bigger issue is who is blaming who?

        No matter how you look at this, it’s a great big blinking red light. It doesn’t say who’s responsible for the disconnect (it takes 2 to tango) but it does seem to say something wasn’t working and I’m surprised given how germane this is to discussion of the diverse minds theory that you guys are taking as such an obvious, no-brainer way for the Browns to have proceeded, that it’s being dismissed as “it’s just Mitchell” or “it’s just Harrison.”

        • Anonymous

          “I’m surprised given how germane this is to discussion of the diverse minds theory that you guys are taking as such an obvious, no-brainer way for the Browns to have proceeded, that it’s being dismissed as “it’s just Mitchell” or “it’s just Harrison.”

          C’mon, bup. Nobody’s dismissing either thing as that. The point is there are apparent facts that easily explain why Mangini wouldn’t play Mitchell and why he’d want Harrison gone. We’ve been over those facts in detail (including again today with the next post), and in view of those facts, Heckert’s comments come off as plain nonsense.

          Agreed that it’s a great big blinking red light.

          As for “whether or not we should have fired H&H and put Mangini and whoever he wanted to pick as GM back in charge, in other words, go back to 2008”:

          It’s certainly a subject worth discussing in theory. This team was on a hell of a winning streak until H&H got their grubby paws on it.

  • J

    Hypocrisy: n. (hip-AH-kriss-EE), Firing the head coach on the grounds that he ought to have won more games than he did with what he had to work with, then immediately overhauling every aspect of the team, including the roster.

  • Peter M

    Pete, Grossi is the most opinionated beat reporter I have ever seen. I am not sure he know the difference between reporter and columnist. The PD needs to really review this. Reporter report, columnists write opinions.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think there’s any problem with one guy doing both if he does it right.

  • NW Ohio Brownie

    I have been a regular on The Browns Board for a little over four years. When Crennel was let go, there was no controversy there or anywhere else.

    Then Mangini comes to Cleveland and immediately there’s controversy on the board BEFORE the man has even trotted out to his first minicamp practice. No question that was rooted in media disdain for EM. Grossi simply picked up where the NY media left off.

    Then I discovered this place not long after last season began. And I keep coming back, almost daily now, because Pete gets it. While I hope for the best for the Cleveland Browns, I am certain, certain, that we will regret letting EM go. While many of you will throw 5-11 & 5-11 in my face, you cannot deny that EM’s values were beginning to shine through. With another solid draft or two from Heckert, EM would have had the Browns ready to win for the long haul.

    Sure, we had a few clunkers in 2010. But more times than not, this team overperformed despite having a roster that maybe two NFL teams would trade for. Yes, EM largely dictated who was on that roster in year two, but the inherited roster needed an enema. He was willing to take on water in year one, recognizing that righting the ship takes time.

    Don’t give me Tampa & KC et al. as examples of winning quickly. That’s a blind man’s perspective. You have to take everything into account. Why were they so bad the year before? What was their schedule? Did they have any major injuries? Etc., etc., etc.

    The true mark of a good NFL coach is one who recognizes his own deficiencies, the team’s deficiencies and acts swiftly to correct them all the while not compromising his values. Mangini improved as a coach in year two as his team followed suit. Had year three occurred you would have seen this continue, albeit slowly I might add.

    To put it bluntly, I felt worse for Eric Mangini the man than I did for Eric Mangini the coach. He’s good people and he is easy to admire, especially if the above article paints a true picture of Grossi’s assburr. Through it all, he kept his poise and earned the respect of his team, a great chunk of the fan base, and even the man that had to tell him on January 3 it was time to part ways.

    Pete, I am glad you continue to use this blog as a beacon for Browns fans who have the sense to see through Tony Grossi’s drivel and recognize it for what it is: a personal hatchet job on a man with a tremendous amount of character and integrity.

    This Heckert piece is just the latest in a disturbing string of anti-Mangini propaganda put forth by the biggest media resource for Browns news as it stands today. While I don’t condone many of the things Heckert says — publicly burying Eric Wright for example — Grossi can’t hide that this is yet another way to attempt to vilify EM for everything he did here. I don’t even need to go back and look because I am sure Crennel never faced such treatment. I am appalled that literally 42 days after EM has been a Browns employee, Tony Grossi still believes his main objective is to continue to smear the former head coach, instead of looking forward into the Browns’ future. 42 hours was all it took for Grossi to move on from Crennel.

    Anyway, sorry for the rambling, but I am with you on Grossi. As long as he serves as the biggest mouthpiece for the print media surrounding the Browns, we will continue to get self-serving, sensationalistic garbage. Disgraceful.

    • Biki

      i think there was controversy because Lerner didn’t hire someone to run the Football Operations, or even a GM and went on his own, against the grain, and hired Mangini not even 10 days after he fired Savage and Crennel.

      I’m not defending Grossi, but as nice of a guy Mangini may be, or the improvements the Browns made from being one of the worst teams in NFL history, to this past year, Lerner finally made the right decision, albeit in the lulls of an 1-11 start to finally do things right and get a Team President to restructure the organization and front office. They seemingly made a mistake in keeping Mangini but all is not lost, especially if you felt Mangini is such a great coach and helped the progression of a lot of our young players (sure didn’t help Eric Wright much this year though).

      I really don’t see how Grossi’s lazy reporting had anything to do with Holmgren’s decision. I mean most people, including Grossi, wanted Mangini gone after 2009, so why didn’t they can him then??

      • Captain Spaulding

        “…most people, including Grossi, wanted Mangini gone after 2009, so why didn’t they can him then??”

        Like I’ve said a dozen times on this post alone: They didn’t can him because the guy they would have hired would have taken the heat for the inevitably shitty season that was to follow. It makes sense, it’s just a shitty thing to do. You are preaching the company line Biki, saying (and believing) exactly what Holmgren would like everyone to believe; that Mangini was actually given a fair shot. He wasn’t; it’s clear as day now, wake up.

        • http://twitter.com/cnp3 Chris P.

          Which leads to one of two very troublesome conclusions, by the way.

          We have to *hope* that at his core, Holmgren is a sly, disingenuous bastard, who isn’t afraid to lie about his motives or situation to craft a carefully orchestrated master plan of pushing levers and pulling strings from above while deflecting blame on past employees and current sycophants. All to advance an agenda that he feels is the best way to move the team forward buying him the most possible time to do so.

          Because if Holmgren isn’t playing the role of evil manipulative thug, he’s an incompetent boob who basically just trashed a year of the franchise so he could have a warmer fuzzier cocoon of people to surround himself with.

          To recap:
          Best Case Scenario: Nixon
          Worst Case: Ford

          That’s what we’ve got to hang our hats on here, hoping that Nixon is running the team.

          • Anonymous

            >>>who basically just trashed a year of the franchise>>>

            2010- Added Hillis, McCoy, Haden, Ward, Hardesty, Fujita, Gocong, while dropping to the bottom of the salary cap for 2011.

            Two more years of trashing the franchise like this and we’ll be staring down at the Steelers.

          • Biki

            don’t forget Jaime Mitchell!! LOL

            bottome line as you mentioned elsewhere, regardless, the team was going to have a big turnover due to the age of the defense, and the offense couldn’t get any worse as constructed. Hopefully the young guys were able to learn from their experience under the previous coaching staff and they continue to progress under the new coaching staff. With experienced teachers like Jauron, Rhodes, and Billy Davis on defense, I’m hopeful that the defense will not take a step back, particularly since we should have a huge influx of talent on defense. The offense should get a boost with Hardesty and whatever other additions they make via FA and draft, as well as hopefully a nice progression in Colt especially in an offense that may be more fitted to his strengths. let’s see what sort of bullets Heckert can put in the chamber for him.

          • http://twitter.com/cnp3 Chris P.

            I don’t think you can build anything long term around Hillis. I mean I love the guy, but I can’t conceivably project a running back out 3 years.

            So super, what we’re adding to our 2013-2014 super bowl contending team are
            2 solid DB’s
            a 32 year old linebacker who spent the last half of the year hurt
            a 3rd round rookie quarterback
            a bruising running back who’s skillset is one that has a 2-3 year peak, tops
            a rookie running back who suffered 2 injuries before the season began
            and Chris Gocong.

            I don’t know.. that’s not the important part. I was just being a dick there, I could have just as easily have argued the other way if it suited my point. I mean if I knew crap about player evaluation, I’d be doing something more football related than spamming the comments. I do feel like counting on RB’s 3 years out is a foolhardy endeavor though…

            Anyway, nevermind… It’s just the fact that you’re trashing a philosophy that you spent 2 years on after tangentially committing to it last year… And football careers are so fleeting that it really seems like you win games now with your players, but you win games 2 or 3 years from now with your current philosophy. So de-comitting (un-committing?) to it after 12 months is a really bad idea.

          • Anonymous

            Don’t forget that every team gets draft picks, and it didn’t really take a genius to pull the trigger on Haden at #7.

          • http://twitter.com/cnp3 Chris P.

            Eh, finally something to disagree about. sorta.

            The choice of Haden was not universal, and it certainly wasn’t a no brainer – particularly given that he ran a 12.6 40 at the combine.*

            *Number exaggerated for effect, but it was slower than expected.

            Good thing we had a coach who stuff like this could be said about. “Well if it was up to Eric, we’d draft all defensive backs.”

          • Anonymous

            Gah! When you’re right you’re right. Mangini was in fact a genius for draft Haden. Crap.

        • Anonymous

          CS, your argument is one possibility among other possibilities. It rests on the assumption that Holmgren is dishonest. Other explanations “make sense” too, in fact, they seem more compelling to me.

          I’ve yet to hear the reasoning as to why it’s impossible that Holmgren thought maybe M. was his guy and that they’d be a good mix, gave it a shot, but decided after a year of working with him it wasn’t a good mix. A year in which front office – coaching miscommunications were evident. Again, what’s Mitchell doing there? How’d he get there? How’d that happen? Can you explain that to me in a way that suggests the diverse minds theory was working? Should we fire Holmgren and Heckert instead and let Mangini or Lerner take another shot at Czaring it up?

          You guys can argue all you want that this was a new, improved 5-11, and I won’t say you’re wrong. They looked good at points. They looked terrible at points. But regardless, you have to see that you cannot conclusively determine that improvement was caused more by one man and his coaching decisions this year than by a very good draft and offseason with immediate impact. I know you guys believe it, but trust me, sane people can disagree, that it’s possible they aren’t just “lying” and “being shitty” when they tell you they see it differently.

          Unless you have more information that the rest of us, I just don’t understand the desire to jump to the worst conclusion.

          • http://twitter.com/cnp3 Chris P.

            But the whole reason you hire a “serious, credible leader” is so you don’t wallow into pits like this.

            If in fact, there was a potential for division between the front office and coaching staff, it’s a “serious, credible leader’s” job to sniff that out before you waste an entire football season on it.

            Fine, if Mangini wasn’t Holmgren’s guy, fine, whatever. I like Eric, but you know, he’s the head coach, he’s not my firend or anyone I feel any special allegiance to.

            But if you’re the “serious, credible leader” that you’re supposed to be, you don’t plan the franchise development around a guy, give a guy a year to show improvement, let him show improvement, then trash the progress. That’s inane.

          • Anonymous

            >>>If in fact, there was a potential for division between the front office and coaching staff, it’s a “serious, credible leader’s” job to sniff that out before you waste an entire football season on it. >>>

            Best qualitative point I’ve seen so far on this. I’m not saying Holmgren is clean here, I’m not saying the miscommunication was Mangini’s fault more than the FO. I’m saying the assumption Holmgren is a lying schemer because the 2010 Browns were better than the 2009 Browns but Mangini was let go is unwarranted.

            And where I’d really differ is in the idea that progress was pronounced, wasn’t simply due to better personnel, and is completely trashed now. 2010 wasn’t a waste in any sense, just because we are changing coaches. I don’t see why that is so at all. Certainly not on offense, it was essentially as bad as it could be and not an especially good fit for our personnel. On defense, it was marginally weak and very old. This wasn’t a strong young foundation now being trashed.

          • Anonymous

            “I’m saying the assumption Holmgren is a lying schemer because the 2010 Browns were better than the 2009 Browns but Mangini was let go is unwarranted.”

            An assumption is only unwarranted if there’s an obviously better one to take its place. You’re telling us that the assumption that Holmgren gave Mangini a fair shot is the better one. To do that, we have to look past the following, among other things:

            1) That this football team was obviously improving under Mangini (you can argue about how much they were improved, but you simply can’t say they weren’t, which already says a lot, even if you want to ignore things like the absurd QB situation, the fact that the ragtag bunch dramatically improved as the year progressed, culinating in the shocking run against the Saints/Patriots/Jets, before petering out when several key injuries took their toll on a dangerously thin roster);
            2) That Mangini was improving himself, at least in dealing with both players and the media;
            3) That basic human nature dictates that unchecked power tends to be abused;
            4) That it was the easiest thing for Holmgren to keep Mangini for 2010, for various obvious reasons;
            5) The illogic behind Holmgren’s stated explanation for firing the Coach: The plain statement that Mangini “didn’t win enough” with this group, when it’s plain enough that no head coach would have been expected to have done more with this roster.
            6) That against the backdrop of Holmgren’s comments in early 2010 that the media made too much of supposed philosophical differences.
            7) And that despite the presumption against firing a guy who’s making obvious progress at a difficult job, Holmgren has made little to no effort to excuse himself from that presumption. He just says “they didn’t win enough.”

            Those are some of the main reasons why many of us here have assumed a position of distrust toward the new regime, now compounded by Heckert’s recent comments. This “unified top down approach” you keep speaking of isn’t enough for us to get over that just yet. Not even when you add in two bad decisions to kick field goals, and the strange mystery of future star Jayme Mitchell and the lost seventh round pick.

            Also, the idea that a “serious credible leader” should have known in advance that he wouldn’t have been able to give Mangini a fair shot is not a new idea around here, though I appreciate Chris bringing it up again.

          • Captain Spaulding

            Mitchell, really? What is your obsession with this guy? Minnesota gave him up for a 7th rounder, he can’t possibly be the all-pro you think he is.

            Anyways, I’m not saying anything about the record, miscommunications, game-day decisions, etc. I’m saying, given the recent actions of Holmgren, it seems obvious he needs to have his guys and his schemes, which is fine. I just seriously doubt this is a revelation that took place over the past year while Mangini was coaching. I find it far more likely that he knew from day 1 he needed his guys & his schemes, but he didn’t want his guys or his schemes to suffer through the shitty season that was sure to follow.

            It’s not necessarily the worst conclusion either, it could be much worse. However, it is a slimey move in my opinion, and it could have set the team back a year or two.

            In the end, I guess I just don’t walk around everyday assuming everyone is telling me the truth, I think that’s a dangerous way to live.

        • Biki

          wake up from what?? I’m glad he’s gone!! i could care less if they knew he only had a year, i was pissed Lerner hired in him in the first place so you could imagine my frustration when Holmgren kept him on.

          • Captain Spaulding

            You asked the question Biki, I just answered it.

            Wake up and realize the answer to your question is clear as day, that’s all.

            Mangini wasn’t given a fair shot Biki, wake up. It wasn’t “aw shucks, things didn’t work out,” it was part of the plan to deflect blame for an inevitably shitty season.

            I can’t be any more clear than that.

          • Biki

            again, i don’t care! i’m glad he’s gone!! and it’s not as clear as day, but hey, i guess you’ve been a fly on the wall in Berea the past 12 months.

    • Steve White

      Grossi simply picked up where the NY media left off.

      That’s what the national media does: it figures out what the NY media is saying and then repeats it.

      That happens in politics, where the leader is the New York Times. There was a time when the NYT set the reportage of the three major news networks as well as the top 50 papers in the country simply by deciding what would and would not be reported in their own pages.

      Are you surprised that this is also true in sports?

      The New York media wield a lot of power. Always have. It’s not absolute, of course, but if Mangini had been picked to be (let’s say) the Steelers’ new coach, one or more of the shining lights in the Pittsburgh media would have dutifully trotted out the New York line.

      That might be all there is to this: Grossi (an idiot) doesn’t have an original thought in his head. That’s why he’s a sportswriter and not, say, a lawyer. He turns to New York to figure out the party line and then dutifully went to work.

  • Biki

    Browns hired Ray Rhodes as Senior Assistant – Defense, which now means the Browns have TWO NFL Coach of the Years on the Defensive coaching staff. Hopefully this will bode well for our young defensive players, including hopefully our #1 pick (please be a DE or DT!)

    Having Holmgren upstairs, we now have 3 former NFL coaches with a combined 29 years of HC experience to help out Shurmur. not bad.

    • Anonymous

      Woo Ray Rhodes! Party at Biki’s!

    • Nicholas

      What I really wanna know is how are these guys gonna mesh with Jaime Mitchell? I’m still waiting to hear what are they gonna do to maximize this guy’s talent?

      Hopefully we can resign Jamie Mitchell, then we’ll just be one good DT away from dominance!

      With Jaime Mitchell, Marcel Dareus, and Rubin – it wouldn’t matter who our other DE was, this group would dominate!

      Or maybe if we can’t resign Jaime Mitchell, we can put all that experience to use finding us the next Jaime Mitchell! Or maybe we could trade a 6th round pick for someone even better than Jaime Mitchell! Wait… isn’t that an oxymoron?

      • Biki

        yeah i’m sure the Browns don’t expect to use any of their $60+ million of cap space on signing dlinemen, particularly ones that are as talented as Jaime Mitchell..

        • Captain Spaulding

          Yea, Jamie Mitchell is so talented it only took a 7th rounder to pry him away from Minnesota. You are unreal dude.

          • Anonymous

            I think he’s being sarcastic there, Cap., but in your defense, who knows, really?

          • Captain Spaulding

            I hope so, this Mitchell thing has gone on long enough.

          • Biki

            dude, don’t you know who Jamie Mitchell is??? come on sonny boy! he’s the real deal holyfield!

          • Believelander

            When Jamie Mitchell goes to bed at night he checks under his bed for Peyton Hillis

  • Anonymous

    “I don’t know how to answer that one. I think [the RB depth] was good for a while. When we had Peyton, Jerome and a couple of other guys here, we were OK. But once Eric wanted us to get rid of Jerome, that’s when it started [going bad]. Once you get rid of that guy then it’s just tough to find guys.”

    At the time of the trade, we were 1 and 4 and averaging less than 20 points per game. Not counting the week of the trade, the browns went 3-2 and did not score less than 20 points in any of the games in the five games following the trade. The facts do not even align with Grossi’s and Heckert’s quotes.

    • Anonymous

      Really good point.

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

      who were the “couple other guys” on the roster when harrison was traded? james davis was injured, … and that’s it unless we’re including cribbs or vickers.

      so really, the RB depth was NOT good for a while. it was not good after camp and it was less good at the time of the trade. and it doesn’t seem there were ever a ‘couple other guys’ providing depth.

      the more you look at this interview, the worse it gets.

      • Biki

        so even if Mangini, who made no bones about his disdain for JH, insisted to Heckert that JH was detrimental to “the process” you think Heckert should’ve put his foot down and insisted that they didn’t make the trade?? As someone previously mentioned, Heckert was very familiar with Bell so maybe he felt he was getting good value in return. whatever happened to “In Mangini we Trust”??

        • Believelander

          Jerome Harrison did not seem interested in working hard after some white boy came in and proved he was far more effective, so Mangini asked Heckert to get him some value in return, selling Harrison’s 2009 end season campaign. So Heckert got him 10 weeks of the contract of a system back and then said that things were going bad when they got better, when it was Heckert’s job to make the Browns have depth at wr and not

      • Anonymous

        May mean H&H thought, like many, Cribbs should be lining up in the backfield and Vickers should be used more. Vickers leading Cribbs looks a lot like the kind of backfield combinations Hlm used.

        Regardless I agree it looks like pinning blame but that is pretty dependent on how this is worded and when you say Mangini wanted Harrison gone. You do have to remember Mangini did a funny little dance with him, saying he’d be the #1 back going in and then just never ever using him.

      • Anonymous

        The quote was from Heckert not me. What I was saying was Heckert was wrong with hist statement that depth was good and then after Harrison was traded things went bad. My comment was that after Harrison was traded there was not any evidence that things went bad. My empirical evidence was that the team went 3-2 and did not score less than 20 points per game. I do not agree with the GM’s assessment that depth was good and I do not agree with the statement that things went bad right after the trade. So maybe you should have sent your response to the GM rather than me?

        Scott L. Baier
        Associate Professor
        The John E. Walker Department of Economics
        222 Sirrine Hall
        Clemson University
        Clemson, SC 29634
        ph: 864 656 4534
        fax: 864 656 4192
        email: sbaier@clemson.edu

  • Terry O.

    And one more thing. This move to a 4-3 is, in my opinion, ill considered.

    I mean why are we making this move? Because that’s how the Big Show did it back in the day or because Heckert is more familiar with the personnel needs of the 4-3? If so, both are crappy “reasons” particularly since the 4-3 has been statically proven to be the lesser of the two schemes .

    Stats bare this out – see:

    [Based on a study of the past 10 seasons (2000-2009) – Defenses employing the 3-4 tend to yield 1.4% fewer successful plays (for the offense) than 4-3 defenses. They tend to allow 2.5 fewer EPA (Expected Points Added ) per game, giving their teams an additional 6.6% greater chance of winning each game. This would roughly be the equivalent of home field advantage. Details here:

    • Believelander

      consistently great defenses like the Steelers, Ravens, Packers, and even Biki’s vaunted Jets operate the 3-4. Consistently great 4-3s? Da Bears…?

      Even the Patriots defense was far better than its somewhat limited roster this season, and the Browns were in the upper dvoa ranks with David Bowens, Jason Trusnik, and Brian Schaffering getting the call to take a ton of snaps. I think the evidence speaks for itself. But we are going to switch because the guys who aren’t running the defense like it better. Amazing how inflexible our management is. We should ditch all these dinosaurs and hire a young smart hard-nosed head coach and a defensive coordinator who looks like Santa Claus in a hoodie. That would probably bolster this organization a lot.

      • Terry O.

        Yes, I should have also mentioned that the anecdotal evidence (leagues top D’s – Steelers, Ravens, Packers, and “even Biki’s vaunted Jets”) also favors the 3-4.

        So again, why the change backward? IOsn’t it tough enough to win in this league without giving up the equivalent of home field advantage before you kick off.

        Maybe its all part of their Andrew Luck strategy (i.e., go 0-16 in 2011).

      • Peter M

        The Tampa 2 is the 4-3. Bucs and Colts are two “pretty” good Ds with Super Bowl rings.

        • Believelander

          actually, the Bucs -were- a consistently good 4-3, now they are ok. The Colts were a pretty good D the year they won the Super Bowl, but nobody can accuse the Colts of the last decade of being -consistently- good. In fact they went to the playoffs a few times on some pretty bad defense. Honestly, da Bears are the only team in a 4-3 who seems to dominate on D year in year out in the modern era. Hence the stats do not lie.

    • http://twitter.com/cnp3 Chris P.

      I’m straddling a fine line here… I promised to show indifference (I suppose Peter upgraded it to “objectivity”) towards personnel moves because I still don’t fully grasp how what we have translates to a 4-3. But I most certainly am not “indifferent” towards philosophy.

      But I’m gonna try to give this organization a little benefit of the doubt on the 4-3 switch (for now).

      While the core of your plays in any defensive package are indeed in these 4-3 3-4 set of schemes, every NFL team plays a variety of goal line, nickle, dime, and quarter packages that fall outside (or at least not fully within) those packages. Within those sub packages are a number of formations that include 3,4 and 5 defensive linemen. So, it’s not like we’re switching from defending the 68 packers to a CFL 3 down offense, or an AFL offense. I don’t think this switch will be AS painful as it’s being made out to be here.

      I still think it’s a mistake, but I don’t think it’s a trading a second round pick to take Winslow mistake

  • Kingtut01

    Foe the longest time I couldn’t wrap my head around what it was that prompted Tony Grossi to always ride the negative side of Mangini’s time in Cleveland. Though some of his criticism was justified, the continual harping got to be a distraction for those who wanted answers to the Brown’s affairs. From someone outside of Cleveland looking in, the impression of the Browns by Tony, split the fan base into “Fanginis” and “Mangoofys”. Though Mangini had his faults, smear journalism stinks and reeks of someone that can’t do their job effectively, and will resort vendettas when they aren’t given full access to what they want. Thanks for the write, it put a lot of things in perspective.

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