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Changing of the Guard: A Who's Who of the Cleveland Browns New Coaching Staff

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Changing of the Guard: A Who's Who of the Cleveland Browns New Coaching Staff

When Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage were fired by the Cleveland Browns, the majority of their staff was sent packing as well.  Afterwards, Browns owner Randy Lerner brought in Eric Mangini, who had just been released by the New York Jets, and let him decide who to hire onto his coaching staff. 

Oddly enough, Mangini even had a say on who would be his superior, as his connection with George Kokinis was the main reason he was chosen as the new Browns general manager.

So, while everyone in the football world is analyzing the players being brought in by the ManKok regime, I think its about time we profile three of the biggest decision makers on the Browns revamped coaching staff. 

Let's start at the top:


Eric Mangini

Coach Mangini's rise in the NFL is the very definition of "full circle."

Eric Mangini began his life in pro football at the age of 23, taking a ball boy position with the Browns under former coach Bill Belichick.  Even though ball boy is a job typically reserved for a younger crowd, Mangini took whatever opportunity he could to get some experience in the NFL.

Belichick was very impressed with Mangini's attitude and work ethic, so impressed that he was able to get him promoted twice, from ball boy to public relations intern to an offensive assistant.

When the Browns moved to Baltimore, Mangini followed them, retaining his offensive assistant position for another year before rejoining Belichick in New York with the Jets.  The two hung together in New York until 2000, when Belichick was named head coach of the New England Patriots. 

One of Belichick's first moves in New England was assigning Mangini as his defensive backs coach.

Mangini made a name for himself in this position for the next four years, until he became New England's defensive coordinator.  He turned down offers for the same position with Miami, Oakland, and Cleveland in order to stay with the Patriots and continue working with the man who helped start him his career.

This all changed in 2006 when Mangini was hired by the New York Jets as their new head coach.  Nicknamed by the media as both "The Mangenius" and "The Penguin," Mangini brought good fortune to a Jets team who went 4-12 the previous year.

The team posted a 10-6 record and earned a playoff berth, where they lost to Belichick's Patriots in the Wild Card round.

In 2007, Mangini became involved in one of the biggest scandals in sports history, accusing Bill Belichick, his former mentor, of illegally videotaping New York's coaching signals during a regular season game.  Belichick received several punishments and fines, thus causing a rift in his and Mangini's relationship which has since been filled.

Mangini's success with New York leveled off in his second season, as they finished with a lowly 4-12 record.  The year after, the Jets brought Brett Favre out of retirement, even though Mangini was against the move.

He eventually made peace with the front office's actions and the Jets got off to an 8-3 start.  Eventually, though, the season derailed as the team lost four of their last five games to finish 9-7. 

The poor finish in New York lead to Mangini's firing, a move some of his former players felt was unfair.  He quickly rebounded, however, after a strong interview with Randy Lerner earned him the Browns head coach opening.

Now, Mangini has been given a task many have tried to overcome, but only few have succeeded.  He must now try to figure out just how to make the Cleveland Browns a competitive football team.

In order to tackle this issue, Mangini brought with him a couple former co-workers to give him help along the way.


Brian Daboll

Like Eric Mangini, Brian Daboll began his NFL tenure under Bill Belichick.  After spending time working at the college level with small coaching positions at both William & Mary and Michigan State, Daboll became a defensive assistant at New England in 2000 along with Mangini.

Two years later, Daboll was promoted to wide receivers coach with the Patriots.  He spent the next four seasons in this position until, in 2006, he fled to New York alongside Mangini. 

Many members of the Patriots coaching staff were less than pleased with Brian Daboll leaving the team to join Mangini in New York.  New England had developed a solid offense, and with Daboll's departure the team was forced to rewrite much of their offensive terminology.

With the Jets, Daboll worked as Mangini's quarterbacks coach.  However, his first season proved to be quite an uphill battle. 

Quarterback Chad Pennington struggled to recover from a previous rotator cuff injury, and was thus hampered to slow arm movement and an inability to throw for long distances.  His replacement, Kellen Clemens was a slight improvement, but a weak offensive line couldn't keep him protected very long.

Daboll spent 2008 working with the recently unretired Brett Favre.  Under Brian Daboll, Favre occasionally showed signs of his former self.  By late season, though, a shoulder injury lead to a decrease in Favre's accuracy, along with a rise in his interception numbers and a rapid downturn to the Jets season.

After the Jets fired Mangini, Daboll's future remained a little uncertain.  New York's offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was one of the first candidates to interview for the head coach opening. 

With question marks looming over who would replace Schottenheimer if he were to become head coach, many expected Daboll to be his heir apparent. 

However, before Schottenheimer received word on the head coach vacancy, Daboll followed Eric Mangini to Cleveland, where he was assigned as the Browns offensive coordinator. 

In Cleveland, Brian Daboll will be in charge of bringing new life to an offense which couldn't score for six straight weeks.  As of now, Daboll still doesn't know which quarterback will be leading his offense, but hopefully his experience as a quarterbacks coach will help him regardless of who is chosen as the starter.


Rob Ryan

At the other side of the ball is new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.  Ryan is one of the more experienced coaches Eric Mangini has brought with him to the Browns. 

He began his career in 1987 as a coaching assistant at Western Kentucky University.  A year later he joined Ohio State as an outside linebackers coach, only to move on to Tennessee State the following year, where he spent four seasons coaching the running backs, wide receivers, and the defensive line.

By 1994, Ryan felt he was ready to move up to the NFL, joining the Arizona Cardinals as a defensive backs coach under his father Buddy.  However, while the Cardinals defense led the NFL in both interceptions and total takeaways in 1995, Buddy Ryan was eventually fired after two rough seasons in Arizona, leading Rob to once again move to another team.

After spending a season at Hutchinson Community College as defensive coordinator, Ryan took the same position at Oklahoma State in 1997.  For the next two years, OSU's defense ranked among the best in the nation. 

In fact, The Sporting News named Ryan Coordinator of the Year in 1997, as the Cowboys defense saw a 100 yard decrease in total yards allowed per game than the year before.

By 2000, Rob Ryan was ready to move back into the NFL, becoming the linebackers coach for New England.  During his time with the Patriots, the team was ranked among the highest in the NFL in total defense.

 In 2001, Ryan helped create one of the best scoring defenses in franchise history, while also developing Pro Bowl linebackers Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi.

After spending four years in New England, Ryan became the defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders.  His numbers in Oakland were not quite as impressive as those with the Patriots, but this may have been due to a slight dropoff in overall talent. 

Still, the Raiders defense remained somewhat respectable through the better part of Ryan's time in Oakland.

While Ryan was in New England, he became close friends with Eric Mangini.  Therefore, when Mangini was hired in Cleveland, he invited Ryan to join the team as defensive coordinator.  Ryan still had a year left in his contract with Oakland, but he was told by the team that he was free to join any franchise of his choosing.

With the Browns, Rob Ryan will most certainly have his hands full when it comes to fixing a defensive unit which was overrun on a week-to-week basis last season.  The skill level in Cleveland certainly doesn't match that of the 2001 Patriots, but there is some talent to be found.

It should be interesting to see if Ryan can turn the Browns around defensively in 2009.

Now that we have a better idea of the decision makers who'll be running the Browns' sidelines this season, we can shift our focus to just what exactly they can bring to Cleveland.  The possibilities are endless, and we can all hypothesize as to what results will come. 

The truth, however, is that we won't know for sure until this fall.

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