Cleveland Browns: Loss To Jets Won't Affect Eric Mangini's Future In Cleveland

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2010

CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 03:  Head coach Eric Mangini of the Cleveland Browns claps his hands during their game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 3, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Sunday's game between the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets was a memorable, and ultimately heartbreaking affair for Browns fans.

It had to be a big disappointment for Cleveland head coach Eric Mangini as well, as the game marked the first time he would meet the organization that fired him at the end of the 2008 season.

However, the overtime loss to the Jets will probably have little effect on Mangini's future as head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

When Mike Holmgren took over as team president of the Browns this past off-season, he surprised nearly everyone by retaining Mangini and his entire coaching staff. Holmgren's plan was to give the staff another year, and following the 2010 season, evaluate their entire body of work before determining their future with the team.

As head coach of the Browns, Mangini has a record of 8-17. Just this season, the Browns are a disappointing 3-6, but a look at the big picture paints a portrait much different than records alone would indicate.

The Cleveland Browns are a completely different team than the one Mangini took over in 2009. Not only are there large differences in the roster, but there has been a huge shift in the attitude and drive of the team. Simply put, the Browns are playing like winners.

Another aspect working in Mangini's favor is the fact that there is tangible progress being made on the field. A team that seemed completely outmatched for most of 2009, is suddenly competitive with almost every team it has faced in 2010.

Progress is being made among the coaching staff as well. Last year, the play-calling, especially on offense was questionable at best. Now, halfway through 2010, the play-calling has been very effective. The Browns have found a way to move the ball well, put up points, make plays on defense, and stay competitive, even though Cleveland has little superstar talent on its roster.

Now, as has been the case with progress, wins are starting to come for the Cleveland Browns. Blowout wins over the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots will look good on Mangini's evaluation report, and losing to the New York Jets in overtime will likely do little to mar it.

After all, there is little shame in going toe-to-toe with a team of superior talent and matching a reputed Super Bowl contender for the better part of 75 minutes.

The deciding factor in Mangini's future will more likely come in the next two months where the Browns play winnable games against the Jaguars, Panthers, Dolphins and Bills, followed by three consecutive division games to close the season.

Pulling off the upset of the year twice in one season is all well and good, but beating the opponents you are supposed to, and remaining competitive within the division is the true mark of progress.

If Eric Mangini can lead his team to victory over three of the next four opponents, and possibly pick up another AFC North win or two, he should remain the head coach of the Browns. Not only will the fans feel good about that, but the Cleveland Browns organization should too.