Ok, so I understand that having players that buy into your system and having guys who are smart are good people to have around. But lets face it, every player has different personalities. From the day that Mangini got here, he couldn't stop talking about how he wanted smart, intelligent players. That's all fine and dandy, except those players aren't always the best players talent wise.
One plus side to having the smart players is our penalty count is significantly lower this year then anytime I can remember. The down side is this might be the worst team we've fielded since we came back into the league in 1999.
Now I realize that we have had a lot of key injuries, specifically D'Qwell Jackson and Eric Barton, but even when they were on the field this team was bad.
Coming into last years draft, Phil Savage left us in quite a hole with us only having a 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th round pick. Mangini fixed that by trading away one of the players that didn't feed into his ego in Kellen Winslow. The trade isn't all that bad, except when you move a marquee player at a position, you need to have a replacement in mind, and Mangini didn't.
Every player that has left here this year has had something negative to say about the Cleveland experience. Rod Hood who was released in August said after he left that football in Cleveland was terrible and was even quoted as saying "I've never seen football handled the way it was when I was there". Then just last week Braylon Edwards came out and said that "playing in Cleveland was the pits". I realize it's easy to bash a bad team, especially when you were glad to get out of there, but at the same time, their is internal stuff going on that the players aren't liking that is scaring them off.
This is a scary thought, especially when considering next year will likely be uncapped and we have an opportunity to spend big money on free agents. Agents are already guiding their clients away from Mangini and the Browns, and the negative words out of the departing players mouths make it that much more difficult to bring in anyone good.
Ok, now back on topic.
You might ask what I mean by Mangini should take a page from the Bengals. Well let me explain. Over the past few years the Bengals have brought in guys who were in trouble with the law and given them a second chance. It's not that I'm saying that they are taking untalented criminals and turning them into elite pros, I'm saying they are taking these highly talented players who have been discarded for troubled pasts and giving them a second chance.
How does this relate to Mangini?
Like I said earlier, Mangini is into these intelligent guys with no character issues. That's all fine and dandy, but as the Bengals are proving, their are tons of troubled athletes out there who are better than a lot of people on a lot of rosters who don't get a second look from Mangini because of their troubled pasts. I understand that it might not sound logical to want to bring in people with troubled pasts, but the fact of the matter is, they have/had all the talent in the world and had a bump in the road and were left for dead.
Another thing that attributes to it is the draft. As I've said several times in this article, Mangini is only interested in the guys who had no problems in college. Again, that is fine, because high character guys are easy to boss around and dictate, but in the end you're passing up more talented and better pro talents because they had problems in college.
Let me explain that above paragraph in detail.
In the 2009 draft, we were sitting in the 2nd round with 3 picks. That is great right? We're all sitting there, we see those 3 second rounders and we're thinking "Here we go, we're about to do some damage!".
WRONG. With our #36 pick, Rey Maualuga was still available. Anyone who knows anything about the draft knows that Maualuga was a 1st round prospect. To me this pick is a no brainer, but Mangini makes his pick and it's Brian Robiskie. While I had no
problem with the Robiskie pick, I scratched my head that a more talented player in a huge position of need of ours got passed up because of something he did his Freshman year. What do you know, here come the Bengals and they draft Rey Maualuga.
Now it's time for our 2nd pick. I'm thinking to myself "This has to be Phil Loadholt or Sean Smith". WRONG. We took Mohammed Massaquoi. As we see, this was one of our better picks, but again, Phil Loadholt and Sean Smith were better talents at that given pick. Loadholt would of been the anchor at RT we needed, and Sean Smith would of been the end of us having to watch McDonald get torched time and time again.
Alright, so it's time for our 3rd pick. While I was trying to figure out who Massaquoi was, I still had the same thoughts, "This has to be Loadholt or Smith!". WRONG. Mangini goes ahead and reaches 3 rounds for a 1 year starting DE named David Veikune. So again, here is another instance where Mangini passed up really good talent for a guy that was smart but only had 1 year of experience.
So as it stands, we reached 3 rounds for Veikune because we needed a OLB. Ok, I'm alright with that. But here come the Bengals again. Their 3rd round pick is Michael Johnson, ANOTHER 1st round talent that dropped because of character issues. If OLB was such a need for us, why didn't we take the second 1st round talent we could of had in Michael Johnson, instead of reaching 3 rounds for Veikune because he's smart?
Sorry this was all drug out, but I just wanted to explain why I feel this team is so bad. Many wonder why the Bengals rebounded so well and I think that helps explain it. They got a 1st round prospect in Maualuga in the 2nd, and another 1st round prospect in the 3rd in Johnson. Like I said, I can understand wanting good character guys who are smart on your team, but talent is talent and it's the teams the forgive peoples past who come out smelling like roses because they have low cost/high talent outcasts on their teams as opposed to mediocre/high character guys with very low ceilings.