Eric Mangini

Colt McCoy’s performance is bad news for Eric Mangini

The Browns have won two straight. Against the Saints and Patriots, no less. So obviously Eric Mangini’s hot seat is cooling off, right?

Wrong.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy celebrates after a 34-14 win over the New England Patriots on November 07, 2010 in Cleveland. UPI / David Richard Photo via Newscom

Colt McCoy is Mike Holmgren's project

If the Browns had won two straight with Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace, that might be an accurate statement. But the fact that they’re winning with McCoy is bad news for Mangini.

Remember, McCoy is Mike Holmgren’s hand-picked quarterback. He went over the heads of both Mangini and GM Tom Heckert to select McCoy in the 3rd round even though he wasn’t the top rated prospect on their draft board.

Mangini’s dislike for McCoy continued into the preseason when kind words about the rookie were few and far between. And after he publicly dressed down McCoy on the field after a preseason loss, local reporters speculated that Mangini may wish to keep Brett Ratliff (Mangini’s hand-picked quarterback) as the 3rd-stringer instead of McCoy.

So you think Holmgren is going to let Mangini reap the benefits of McCoy’s rookie success? HA!

Holmgren loves nothing more than developing quarterbacks. He was Steve Young’s quarterbacks coach at BYU. He was then the quarterbacks coach for both Young and Joe Montana in San Francisco. Then as a head coach he helped develop Brett Favre and later Matt Hasselbeck. And what do all those guys have in common with McCoy? None were 1st-round picks.

And  now you think he’s going to let someone else coach his latest project?

Not a chance.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns 6 Comments

Did Mangini save his job on Sunday?

The Browns pulled out all the stops on Sunday, playing like it was the Super Bowl. In reality, they were just a 1-5 team playing the defending Super Bowl champs. So why the sudden change in the game plan?

Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini stands on the sidelines during the second half of their NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Maryland September 26, 2010.  REUTERS/Joe Giza (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

What was the motivation behind Mangini and Co.'s sudden creativity?

Through the first six weeks the Browns played the most boring, nondescript, old-fashioned style of football you could play. They handed the ball off to Peyton Hillis who ran straight ahead. Then they lined up and did it again. And again.

Despite having playmakers like Josh Cribbs, Senaca Wallace and Jerome Harrison at their disposal, the Browns coaching staff played it safe for six straight weeks. That style of football kept them in every game, but it also resulted in five losses.

So I ask again, why the sudden change?

Maybe Eric Mangini feared for his job. Mike Holmgren hasn’t publicly questioned Mangini this season, but if they were going to make a change this would be the week to do it. The Browns are entering their bye week which is often a convenient time to make a coaching change.

Perhaps Mangini was feeling pressured – be it real or imagined – and decided to put it all on the line against the Saints. That’s the only logical explanation I have for how a team that wasn’t even creative to make Josh Cribbs a significant part of their offense suddenly turned to fake punts and halfback passes to pull off an upset of the Saints.

It’s just a theory, but there may be something to it.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns 2 Comments

10 observations from Week 2 in the NFL

1. Mike Martz is Jay Cutler’s savior. Through two weeks he has looked like the best quarterback in the league. If you’re not buying into the hype, consider this stat from ProFootballFocus.com: when Cutler was blitzed on Sunday, he completed 17 of 24 pass attempts for 198 yards and three touchdowns. That’s efficiency that you will rarely see against one of the more talented defenses in the league.

2. What’s up with all these quarterbacks being benched? If you’re sitting a guy midway through the second game of the season maybe you shouldn’t have started him in the first place. If your team has already made a quarterback switch before fall is officially here, you have every reason to panic.

3. At this rate, I don’t see how Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will survive the season in Cleveland. In each of their first two games the Browns offense has come out of the gate with reasonable success, only to be completely shut down in the 2nd half. It’s as if the Browns just go to the locker room and hang out at halftime while the other team adjusts.

4. Another issue with the Browns offense… how can you not get the ball in the hands of your playmakers? They had Jerome Harrison, Josh Cribbs and Seneca Wallace on the field at the same time for most of the game, and yet they failed to even fake any trick plays. They could have created some nightmare matches for the Chiefs defense with just a little creativity.

5. Derek Anderson did not look good on Sunday, but his offensive line didn’t do him any favors. The Cardinals offensive line allowed two sacks, six hits and 18 pressures! And they only dropped back to pass 33 times! And please, for the sake of Kurt Warner, don’t think that this offensive line got worse since last year. Warner was simply brilliant at avoiding pressure and getting rid of the football.

6. I’m excited to see Jimmy Clausen’s debut on Sunday, but I’m afraid it won’t be pretty. He faces two tough secondaries in each of his first two games – vs Cincinnati, at New Orleans. The Panthers might as well wave the white flag. They’re locked in a battle with the Browns and Bills for the No. 1 pick.

7. The Vikings have every reason to panic. They should add one in the win column this weekend against the Lions, but after that it’s at the Jets, home against the Cowboys, then at Green Bay and at New England. They could lose all four of those games. And they will if Brett Favre doesn’t stop playing like Sage Rosenfels. The Vikings could have gotten this performance for a lot less money if he had stayed retired.

8. The Steelers may be emerging as a favorite in the AFC. They’re 2-0 (two good wins, mind you) while essentially playing without a quarterback. As soon as Roethlisberger returns, this team will be very, very hard to beat.

9. Green Bay’s defense looked absolutely dominant on Sunday (with plenty of help from Trent Edwards). But here’s a fun stat for you courtesy of ProFootballFocus.com – the Bills didn’t target Charles Woodson once the entire game. Not a single pass thrown his direction. Now that’s respect.

10. And I’ll conclude with this… I hope someone in the NFL public relations department is paying close attention to the amount of media coverage being given today to Braylon Edwards and Kenny McKinley. The fact that most media outlets are spending more time talking about Edwards’ DWI and how the Jets will react, than to McKinley’s death is sad.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Browns, Cardinals, Packers, Panthers, Steelers, Vikings Comments Off

A Mid-Offseason Grade for Mike Holmgren

On one hand, you have to give Mike Holmgren credit for putting his stamp on this team. On the other, you have to wonder: were this many changes necessary?

We’re still a month away from the draft and Holmgren has made an entire offseason’s worth of moves. With the recent flurry of transaction now complete, I think its time to breakdown the Browns moves and give Holmgren his mid-offseason grade.

Jan. 7 – Browns decide to keep Mangini
Mangini’s first season in Cleveland was nothing short of a complete disaster. True, he turned things around down the stretch, but any progress he made in those final weeks has now been undone by Holmgren’s dismantling of the franchise. You have to wonder if Holmgren isn’t keeping Mangini around just to keep the seat warm for himself.
Grade: D

Feb. 18 – Browns release Jamal Lewis
Everyone could see this move coming a mile away. Lewis wasn’t performing, and he wasn’t happy. He was due to earn $3.9M in 2010 and he just isn’t worth it anymore. It created a gaping hole at running back, which the undersized Jerome Harrison can’t fill on his own, but it was a necessary decision.
Grade: A

March 4Browns don’t offer tender to Brodney Pool; becomes free agent
Not bringing back an injury-prone safety who’s coming off a concussion walk can’t be viewed as a terrible decision, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt to offer him his 2nd-round tender and then attempt to pull off a trade. When healthy, Pool is a quality starting free safety and it looks as though he’ll get an opportunity to prove himself with the Jets.
Grade: C

March 4Browns trade Corey Williams to Lions for 5th-round pick
Aside from Shaun Rogers, Williams was easily the Browns next most productive defensive lineman over the past two seasons. He adjusted nicely to playing defensive end in their 3-4 scheme and was an anchor on the defensive line. ProFootbalFocus’ grading system rated him the 3rd best 3-4 defensive end in 2009. And all they could get in return was a 5th-round choice? Assuming that really was all that was being offered for Williams, the smart move would have been to keep him around. The Browns aren’t exactly bursting at the seams with talented defensive players, so why dump one for a 5th-round pick?
Grade: F

March 9 – Browns release Derek Anderson
This was an unfortunate, but necessary, move. It’s not easy to release a 26-year-old former Pro Bowl quarterback, but Anderson simply hasn’t lived up to expectations the past two seasons. He was due a $2M roster bonus on March 19, and it didn’t look like anyone was going to be interested in pulling the trigger on a trade for an overpriced backup.
Grade: A-

March 14 – Browns trade Brady Quinn to Broncos
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You cannot judge a quarterback based on 12 starts. And you certainly can’t judge him based on 12 starts during which he was surrounded by absolutely no talent. I’m not saying Quinn will become the next John Elway in Denver, but he deserved another shot with the Browns. In return the Browns received Peyton Hillis (a backup FB/RB), a 2011 6th-round draft pick and a conditional pick in 2012.
Grade: F

March 14 – Browns trade Kamerion Wimbley to Raiders for 3rd-round pick
While trading your best pass-rusher is rarely a good idea, this won’t be a crippling move for the Browns defense. Matt Roth and David Bowens are capable starting linebackers and the coaching staff is also high on Marcus Benard. The addition of the 3rd-round pick give the Browns five in the top 100, which will help them retool a roster which is depleted of talent.
Grade: B

Clearly Holmgren’s strategy here is to make the Browns “his” team. If owner Randy Lerner is willing to be patient it could work out in the end, afterall Holmgren has been to three Super Bowls. However, he went to those Super Bowls as a coach. As a GM in Seattle he struggled and was eventually demoted. At this point he’s committed himself to a 3-year rebuilding project, if not longer. Its too early to give him a failing grade across the board, but its certainly possible that he’ll leave the Browns worse off than when he took over. As the roster stands today on March 15, its hard to imagine the Browns winning more than one or two games, with the distinct possibility that they go 0-16.

Overall Mid-Offseason Grade: C-

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Browns, Free Agency Comments Off