Whenever there's a new coach in town, the fans and media can't help but speculate how he will change the shape of the team. Will the offense be led by an aerial attack, a smashmouth ground game, or a balance between the two? The mainstream media has reported it both ways, on one hand, saying Eric Mangini is a tough coach that brings a hard hitting running game. On the other hand, they've said he favors a pass heavy attack with a range of deep routes.
So which is it?
Cleveland is the second stop for Mangini, his first stop as head coach was with the New York Jets from 2006-2008. In his three seasons with New York, he led the team to a 23-25 record and a playoff birth. While obviously it's not an amazing record, for a rookie coach, it's to be expected. Entering his fourth season, with three years of experience under his belt, he looks to take on the daunting task of leading the legendary Browns from shambles back to NFL glory.
Let's try and figure out how it will be done.
In 2006, the offense was led by Chad Pennington and used a three running back system led by Washington with 151 attempts, Barlow with 131 attempts, Houston with 113 attempts, and a mix of receivers rushing for 59 attempts. They totaled 491 attempts, while the mix of quarterbacks passed for 488 attempts. So 2006 resulted in Mangini's system almost completely balanced, with Rushing close to 51 percent of the time.
In 2007, the offense was led by Chad Pennington again and used a two back system led dominately by Thomas Jones with 310 attempts, Leon Washington bumping down to only 71 attempts, and the receivers combining for a mere 16. The whole season they amassed 512 passing attempts while rushing for 446 attempts. So 2007 was obviously a big swing to the aerial attack now that Pennington was more comfortable throwing.
In 2008, the offense was led by Brett Favre and used the same two backs, this time Jones carrying 290 times, while Washington picked up 76 attempts, and the receivers getting 32 chances. The "Brett Favre Experiment" complicates the numbers a little since obviously Brett was given more room to make decisions on his own, throwing 529 times, and leaving 422 to the rushing department. So 2008 was a huge difference to the pass, but is the air really Mangini's preference or Brett Favre's?
What can we conclude about what to expect in 2009? It relies heavily on the quarterback chosen.
While the numbers don't mean a whole lot, it does point to the fact that when Mangini has a stronger armed, confident quarterback under center, he definitely likes to air it out and see what happens. With a younger, passive, inexperienced quarterback though, it appears balanced on the ground as well as in the air.
If Derek Anderson is chosen I think we can expect a year more like 2007 with more of an emphasis on the pass, since he has a stronger arm and can get the ball downfield in a hurry.
If Brady Quinn is chosen I think we can expect more a year like 2006 with a balanced attack, a three back system, and a combination of jack option plays, since Quinn is still new to the NFL.
I would say by the news coming out of Berea, Mangini is leaning towards Quinn. Which means we will make the most of our three running back's varying styles, and use Cribbs and Massaquoi in a multitude of jack option handoffs and schemes, much like he did in 2006 with the Jets.