And so it begins. Another year has come and gone, and once again everyone is calling for the coach's head.
I've sat and listened, and I admit, I was disgruntled with Mangini at the beginning of the season too. But he has righted the ship and has become a noticeably improved coach.
The team has responded to him, they're playing as a team, and they're playing for each other. He has built a great foundation, and is now well-liked by the players, many of them giving sterling endorsements for him to return next year.
He inherited a mess, and has since made the team respectable and exciting to watch. He weeded out the trash, and handed us 11 draft picks in 2010. He's building the team the right way, and deserves another season to finish what he started.
However, if you are still not convinced, I have compiled your top 12 reasons Mangini should be fired...and why you're wrong.
1. The Bus Trip From Hell
Mangini packed up the rookies and took them on a Greyhound trip to Hartford, CT to a camp to help under-resourced children learn to play football.
This doesn't seem unreasonable to me. Mangini drafted a bunch of young kids out of college, made them millionaires, and then had them go help underprivileged kids in Connecticut?
Aww, boo-hoo, cry me a river!
Maybe this taught them to bond with each other, to give back to the community, and to start them off on the right foot to be humble, and to act like professionals. If they had a problem with it, they should toughen up and go lounge by the pool this offseason and count their money.
2. The Hiring and Firing of George Kokinis
The hiring of George Kokinis may have been the worst GM hire of any football team in NFL history. Not at all because he is a bad guy or unqualified for the job, but the way the situation was handled.
Who is this one really on? Randy Lerner hires a head coach and lets him pick a General Manager on his own.
What would you do? Pick a disciplinarian that will limit your power?
No, you'll pick a figurehead, and a friend who will let you run the team as you see fit.
So would I. So did Mangini.
Picking a GM is an owner or president's responsibility. It should not be left to a coach, who is unqualified to make such a decision.
3. Penalties/Excessive Fines
Excessive fines are supposedly a big reason Mangini should be fired.
A player takes a bottle of water from a hotel room and doesn't pay the bill for it. He gets fined $1700 by Eric Mangini for a $3 bottle of water.
When your salary per year is $2.3 million, how effective is charging someone a $50 fine? That isn't exactly going to punish someone. Just because you have money doesn't mean you can take everything for free. You're a professional—act like it.
Another issue is making players run a lap for a penalty. You only need to look at the numbers and realize we went from the most penalties in the league, to the third fewest in the league, to realize that it's working. And running makes you healthier, you should thank your coach, you have the offseason to lay around now.
4. Mismanaged QB Situation
Eric Mangini ruined Brady Quinn! He held back Derek Anderson from being his 2007 Pro Bowl self!
After reading all these excuses and all this nonsense about how both quarterbacks have been screwed over by Romeo Crennel and now Eric Mangini, I admit I'm impressed.
I can tell there's been a lot of sleepless nights staring at the Brady Quinn muscle magazines taped to your ceiling, and a lot of watching Derek Anderson highlights on YouTube from 2007 in your favorite No. 3 jersey, coming up with reasons why both quarterbacks have underperformed against expectations.
Perhaps, it isn't the fault of Eric Mangini. Perhaps there's a reason Quinn fell so far in the first round, and why scouts lambasted him with critiques as he came out of college about arm strength and accuracy issues. Perhaps there's a reason Derek Anderson didn't get drafted until the sixth round.
Yes, Anderson has a solid 2007, but has everyone forgotten about Jamal running for 1300 yards, Winslow receiving 1100 yards, Edwards receiving 1200 yards and 16 TD's, and Jurevicius picking up 600 yards?
Maybe, just maybe, it's possible that neither quarterbacks has what it takes to be a legit NFL starter?
No, that would be crazy; all quarterbacks out of college reach superstardom. It's documented.
5. Trading Kellen and Braylon
Trading two former Pro Bowlers?! Mangini is crazy!
Right, but the rest of us living in the real world have noticed Edwards' poor attitude, increasing drops, and decreasing production. 2008 saw him grab 800 yards for three TDs, hardly worth what he was being paid. Lance Moore caught for more yards than he did.
We also noticed Winslow's increased injuries, terrible attitude, media distractions, and decreased production, playing 10 games in 2008 and bringing in 400 yards for three TDs.
Both players led Cleveland to a 4-12 record in 2008.
Clearly, they were helping out immensely.
In exchange for Winslow and Edwards, Cleveland received Jason Trusnik, Chansi Stuckey, and second-, third-, and fifth-round draft picks.
Job well done, Eric.
6. Bringing In Garbage Free Agents
Mangini screwed the team over by bringing in ex-Jets and other team's rejects!
ILB Eric Barton had D'Qwell Jackson playing at his highest level ever; by mentoring him and helping him on the field, Barton played great as a stopgap linebacker while ours developed.
OLB David Bowens will probably be brought back, as he was irreplaceable down the stretch, with a huge impact on the last four wins.
DE Kenyon Coleman, didn't do much, I agree, but he was plagued by injuries all year.
S Abram Elam started out rough, but settled down as the season progressed. This was Elam's first year as a starter, and the second half of the season you didn't hear his name called often. No news is good news.
WR Mike Furrey was irreplaceable in the community, quickly became a fan favorite, and was so versatile he also played safety and shut down his area almost every single time.
CB Rod Hood and CB Corey Ivy were cut. No harm, no foul.
TE Robert Royal is a solid blocker, but a liability as a receiver; hopefully he will be cut this offseason.
CB Hank Poteat is a great guy and probably did his job helping players buy into the system. But never should have been more than depth.
All these players, in my opinion, fulfilled the roles that they were brought in for. How many elite players do you think were willing to come into a 4-12 terrible situation in Cleveland?
Mangini did what he could with what he had to work with.
7. The Hiring of Brian Daboll
When you come into a new situation, you bring in friends and the people closest to you. In this case it was former quarterbacks coach Brian Daboll.
The next step from a positions coach is a coordinator position, is it not? Mangini was not out of line for suggesting him as a coordinator, but the experiment has failed, and it may be time to move on.
The team performed better when Carl Smith started assisting Daboll; was it just progress or was it Smith? We don't know.
8. Jerome Harrison's Lack of Attempts
Harrison himself admits that he was missing blocking assignments and "dogging it at practice." Mangini said from day one that players would determine their level of involvement, and that those working hard would get time on the field.
Harrison also stated he was inspired by the play of Josh Cribbs on the Steelers touchdown return, and decided to help him out.
Ever since, he's a changed running back.
Mangini didn't keep Harrison on the bench; the way it sounds is that Harrison kept himself on the bench.
9. Josh Cribbs' Contract Situation
Cribbs stated he was promised a new contract by Phil Savage and Randy Lerner. Mangini doesn't control money or contract negotiations, so why would this be on him? Seems to me like another Randy Lerner mistake.
10. Mangini Doesn't Know What He's Doing:
Mangini is still a young head coach, and just like every other person in any position, he's going to have his growing pains. Look at Belichick, Schottenheimer, and Gruden: their first five seasons were less than stellar, but now look at what has become of them.
I urge you to look at Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, who, until there was talk of him being fired, was a strict disciplinarian who was not well-liked by his players.
Halfway through the season, he loosened up, started joking with the players, and the following year won the Super Bowl.
The same thing is playing out here. Mangini was the same way. Now he is joking around, loosening up, well-liked by his players, and even received a Gatorade bath during the last game of the season.
He deserves another season to see this through.
11. Blown Draft
Aaron Curry and Matt Stafford were off the board; there was no other player worth paying top-five money for.
So Mangini traded down—and still got a stout center in Alex Mack, as well as Kenyon Coleman, Brett Ratliff, starter Abe Elam, and No. 1 receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.
Brian Robiskie was rated the most polished receiver in the draft; you can't anticipate him not succeeding immediately like he failed to do.
Mohammed Massaquoi will be a legit No. 1 receiver as soon as the QB situation is addressed for good.
David Veikune was a bust, fine. Kaluka Maiava was a great fourth-round pickup, Coye Francies looks promising, and Don Carey and James Davis were lost to IR.
I give him an Incomplete with a pending grade.
12. Alienating Shaun Rogers
They don't call Shaun Rogers big baby for nothing. It's not like Rogers went up to him and tried talking to Mangini and Mangini snubbed him. They were both in the same building at the same time, and didn't meet.
So what? That's as much on Rogers as it is Mangini; they're both adults.