The Cleveland Browns: Second Verse Is Same as the First

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer IAugust 17, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 15:  Head coach Eric Mangini of the Cleveland Browns looks on during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers during the preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 15, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

In 1991, the Cleveland Browns hired a man that would one day become a coaching legend.

He would coach his team to the only undefeated regular season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins, and lead his team to the most recent Dynasty in the NFL.

The man's name is Bill Belichick, and none of that was done with the Cleveland Browns.

Belichick coached the Browns until 1995, when then owner Art Modell fired him prior to moving the Browns to Baltimore to become the Ravens.

Since returning to the NFL, the Browns have not had much luck with their coaching decisions.

Chris Palmer was first hired to lead the expansion Browns, using the first overall pick in the NFL Draft to take the strong armed Tim Couch (really, Couch?).

Who was passed up on, to take Couch? Donovan McNabb (pick No. 2), Edgerrin James (pick No. 4), Champ Baily (pick No. 7), not to mention, Mike Ditka willing to trade the New Orleans Saints' entire Draft, plus additional picks the following year, for Ricky Williams.

Next was Butch Davis, then Terry Robiskie, the whole while, watching former coach, Bill Belichick turn the New England Patriots into a Dynasty.

The Browns could not become successful.

New owner Randy Learner decided that he needed to get the old magic back. To bring in someone that can coach as Belichick does, someone who could bring the franchise back some respect.

So, Learner's first shot at this was Romeo Crennel. Crennel spent 2001-2004 as defensive coordinator for Belichick with the Patriots. Crennel went with the blessings of Belichick, because he was ready to move on.

What he did not have in Cleveland that he had in New England was the talent that was put around Belichick.

Crennel and the Browns suffered through his first two seasons with 6-10 and 4-12 records, respectfully. Finishing last in the AFC North both times.

After improving the Browns in 2007 to a 10-6 record, Crennel was awarded a two-year contract extension. In 2008, the Browns again faltered to 4-12, costing Crennel his job.

Eric Mangini did not come directly from New England to Cleveland. His first stop was as the head coach of the New York Jets.

When Mangini told Belichick that he was taking the Jets' job, Belichick was not thrilled, saying that Mangini, with only one season under him, was not ready.

Mangini did not agree, and the animosity between the two remains today.

In his first season as a head coach in New York, Mangini led the Jets to a 10-6 record and a wild card playoff berth, only to fall to the Patriots.

In his second year, the Jets fell to 4-12, and in his third, with Brett Favre, the Jets started out 8-3, only to again miss the playoffs at 9-7.

Mangini was promptly fired, and almost immediately hired by the Browns when no one else was interviewing him.

Will Mangini be able to capture the Bill Belichick coaching greatness? Or will he become another Romeo Crennel?