It's such the contrary of what the media has been saying since the day he got hired, but I'm going on the record. While it may seem a little drastic to say, Eric Mangini is the savior the Cleveland Browns have been looking for.
Let me explain, for the first time in years, we are truly rebuilding. I know it's hard to admit, with the "wait til' next year" mentality we were raised in Cleveland on, but there's a reason we've only made the playoffs twice in the last 18 seasons and have never won a Super Bowl ring.
The biggest thing to blame, is stability. Stability has always been a rare commodity in Cleveland, seeing's how the last time we had the same coach for more than five years was back in 1978.
Hopefully, this time Randy Lerner has made a commitment for better or worse to accept that maybe we aren't going to the Super Bowl this season, but we're on our way.
In this year's draft, by selecting a center, Alex Mack, in the first round; the team of Kokinis and Mangini have assured us they're in it for the long haul by starting with giving more weapons to the five men in the trenches.
The offensive line, the first line of defense so to speak, is the most underrated part of the team, yet often the most overlooked.
The five guys who protect the quarterback, open the holes in the defense for the running backs, give the receivers time to run their routes, and yet rarely get the credit they deserve.
Last year our line had so many weaknesses that the casualties were too much to handle, with Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Ken Dorsey, and Brad Gradkowski all falling victim.
And in turn, they went six straight games without an offensive touchdown. This season, with the drafting of Alex Mack, the signings of Floyd Womack and John St. Clair, and the releasing of Kevin Shaffer, the line is looking much stronger this year than the past few.
I would have to guess by the end of training camp the line will look like this: C Alex Mack, LT Joe Thomas, LG Eric Steinbach, RT John St. Clair, RG Rex Hadnot.
Hopefully these players will be looking out for the young, inexperienced offense this season and will give them a chance to perform at the best of their abilities.
In the quarterback slot this year, the heavy media and fan favorite is Brady Quinn to get the job. But if Mangini has showed us anything, it's to expect the unexpected.
The other quarterbacks on the roster are former Pro-Bowler Derek Anderson and newly signed Brett Ratliff. Although by the end of training camp, I wouldn't be surprised to see former Texas Tech's 5000 yard passer, Graham Harrell, to make the cut also.
In likely the only solidified position on the team, Jamal Lewis will be running the ball this season, with youth and speed hot on his heels in the form of Jerome Harrison, Noah Herron, and '09 draft pick James Davis out of Clemson getting substantial playing time.
One of the best moves I think management made was not trading '07 Pro Bowl's Braylon Edwards, who is in a contract year. While drops are a steady problem for Braylon, he'll be playing hard this year in hopes of a big payoff in the end for him next off-season.
We would have been facing a starved, gutted wide receiver squad without Edwards and Stallworth, which was not something anyone was looking forward to. While it's inevitable the Browns will move on without Stallworth, who is facing legal troubles, the blow has been cushioned by the signing of veteran David Patten and the drafting of Brian Robiskie and Mohammed Massaquoi.
The tight end portion of the depth chart is a spot most people are hesitant at. After trading Kellen Winslow, very few people have faith in the position.
What most people don't realize is Kellen only played in 44 out of the 80 games for us, so almost half the time, we were without him anyways. This season, will see a combination of Robert Royal, Steve Heiden, and Martin Rucker alternating time.
The offense is not the only place Mangini and Kokinis have made necessary improvements. The hole in the defensive line has also been filled during the draft with the aquisition of Kenyon Coleman of the New York Jets.
While it's not guaranteed the job won't still belong to Robaire Smith, Kenyon has a leg-up being from Mangini's former team, being consistantly healthy, and standing at 6'5, 295 pounds. I would look to see Williams, Rogers, Coleman on the line.
Expect a different look at the linebacker corps this year after adding David Bowens and Eric Barton from the free agent pool. We also drafted David Veikune of Hawaii and Kaluka Maiava of USC.
It's thought that Veikune will make the transition outside and will start opposite of Wimbley this season. Making Veikune, Jackson, Barton, Wimbley the starters.
It's anyone's guess who will make the secondary this year. Wright, McDonald, Pool, and Jones clearly didn't cut it last year. While the young corners have the potential, veterans were brought in, and rookies were drafted to build the competition.
Eric Wright, Brandon McDonald, Corey Ivy, Hank Poteat, Coye Francis, and Don Carey are the rostered corners this year. The safety situation is shaping up with newly acquired Abram Elam most likely starting with Brodney Pool.
This season depends a lot on chemistry. All the new faces joining the holdovers from last season need to step up and come together, uniting the team and evolving into a well-oiled machine.
The talent, youth, intelligence, and experience is all here. All the big egos and players who don't want to play team ball have been eliminated.
The country club feel is gone, expect no quit this year like last season, Eric Mangini won't stand for it.