Browns vs. Bills: 10 Reasons Eric Mangini Is Back on the Hot Seat After Loss
With the Browns' humiliating 13-6 loss to the 2-10 Buffalo Bills, many in Cleveland have already begun to speculate on the future of Browns head coach Eric Mangini, who currently has a 10-18 record with the team.
Depending on what Browns fan you talk to, it's either you love Eric Mangini or you hate him—it's that simple.
No Browns boss has been this divisive amongst Browns fans since Manigini's onetime mentor turned mortal enemy, current New England Patriots and former Cleveland Browns head coach Bill Belichick.
For Browns fans who have had to deal with almost two seasons of indecisiveness at the QB spot, an inept offense, questionable drafting (David Veikune?) and fundamentally weak and shoddy defenses (let's not even discuss the tackling...or lack thereof), Mangini's current legacy in Cleveland isn't very good.
But as bad as the above issues are, there are also some positives such as the improved discipline, a major cut-down on penalties, better clock management and a smarter, more attacking defense.
But after today's loss in Buffalo, one might have to start wondering if Mangini's time could be up.
We will now examine the top 10 reasons why Mangini is back on the hot seat.
1. Not Benching QB Jake Delhomme
Let's be real here for a moment: The Cleveland Browns made a mistake in signing former Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme in the offseason to a two-year, $14 million dollar deal. Delhomme has surpassed former free-agent wide receiver Andre Rison as the biggest bust in modern Cleveland Browns history.
That may sound a bit harsh, but for $14 million, Cleveland fans have been subjected to off-line throws, no mobility, a herky-jerky body language that's right out of a Tim Burton movie, and just plain bad play that makes Derek Anderson look like Frank Ryan.
Currently, Delhomme has gone 81-of-129 for 786 yards passing, and completed a respectable 62.7 percent of his passes for an average of 6.09 yards per attempt.
Delhomme has a horrible TD-INT ratio of 2:7, which means he has only thrown TWO touchdowns and SEVEN interceptions; Delhomme has also been sacked five times and racked up an "impressive" 65.6 QB rating, which is currently the third-worst in the league.
And with Delhomme's recent 12-of-20, 80-yard, one interception "performance" which included a horrible 49.5 QB rating, Mangini's first order of business Monday in Berea had better be either cutting the simply awful Delhomme or starting QB Seneca Wallace the rest of the season.
If Mangini hopes to keep his job, then he must sit Delhomme for the rest of the season, because the longer Delhomme continues to play under center with these same kind of "results," the sooner that Mangini will also find himself unemployed.
2. Not Running the Ball Enough Against the NFL's Worst Run Defense
This has got to be really both head-scratching and simply infuriating for Browns fans to swallow.
How is it that you have the seventh-leading rusher in the NFL going against the NFL's worst run defense and he ONLY get's 109 yards against a unit that allows a AVERAGE of 170.9?
This is what might be Mangini's undoing, or rather Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's. When you have a feature power-back such as Hillis, you should expect that teams will load up the box for him. Despite that you choose to throw the ball with the third-worst QB in the NFL in Delhomme instead of running.
Traditionally, the Browns have always been a run-first team on first down—that is in Cleveland's football DNA—and you have to wonder why would you risk throwing on a fairly average defense in averse conditions when you have one of the best feature backs in the NFL in your backfield?
Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll will been having a long talk in Berea on Monday. Count on it.
3. Cleveland Is in Serious Danger of Overworking Peyton Hillis
An alarming trend is beginning to emerge about the Browns' feature back, Peyton Hillis.
This is not to take anything away from Hillis and his simply remarkable accomplishments since becoming Cleveland's most beloved sports figure since You-Know-Who, as he has posted a Pro Bowl-worthy 1,516 combined yards rushing and receiving for 13 total touchdowns.
But there is one major concern that is becoming more major every game.
Hillis leads the league in total fumbles by a running back with eight, losing five of them.
This is not a critique of Hillis at all, it falls more on the one-dimensional offense that the Browns are deploying, The main reason for Hillis' fumbling is that he is literally the entire Browns offense, as he is eighth in the league in carries with 238.
For Hillis to become effective again, the Browns must use Mike Bell, whom they traded former feature back Jerome Harrison for from the Philadelphia Eagles.
What good is a player that you trade for when you don't use him?
The sooner that Mangini cuts down on Hillis' workload and gives him a breather, the sooner the Browns offense will begin to evolve.
4. Not Making the Offense More Accountable for Tiring Out the Defense
The Browns defense, for all of its shoddy tackling and lack of being aggressive, cannot be blamed for lack of effort.
It must be hard for a standard NFL defense to stop a opposing NFL offense and hold them, then see the offense sputter and punt or turn the ball back over, bringing out the defense again.
That is what I'm beginning to see from the Cleveland Browns offense and I strongly feel that Mangini needs to make the inept Browns offense more accountable for lack of results if they can't score, forcing a already under-manned and average NFL defense to do it again.
The Browns have had issues for a long time in sustaining long drives on offense, and scoring points, thus not giving the defense a chance to rest and get some oxygen. By the late third and fourth quarters you start to see the defensive players with their hands on the sides of their pants and gasping for air—there is only one word for that.
Since a Week 11, 24-20 loss to Jacksonville, the Browns offense has run a total of 234 plays, an average of 58.5 plays a game
Opponents have run 257 plays against the Browns defense for a average of 64.2 plays.
What that tells me is that the Browns offense simply cannot score enough points or sustain enough drives to let the defense rest, thus negating the defense's effectiveness late in games.
During this stretch the Browns are 2-2, but if not for a late Chad Henne interception against Miami and a missed field goal from Carolina kicker John Kasay, the Browns and possibly Mangini would be in a much worse position.
5. Not Switching to QB Seneca Wallace When the Game Was Still in Reach
This has got Browns fans boiling from coast to coast and simply seething in Cleveland.
Make no mistake Colt McCoy is the "guy" in Cleveland now, but his backup, QB Seneca Wallace, is not a bad player at all—actually he has a lot of similar qualities to McCoy, minus his accuracy.
The main point is that Wallace is a lot more mobile than Delhomme and with the weather being bad in Buffalo and having a 35-yeard-old quarterback under center who was basically mailing it in, why didn't Mangini switch to Wallace in order to spark the team?
Loyalty in sports can only go so far, but in the end, winning is everything, and Wallace would have given the Browns a much better chance of winning a very winnable game on Sunday.
6. Not Calling Out Brian Daboll on a Horrible Game Plan Sunday
I don't know what former Cleveland Browns quarterback and civil icon Bernie Kozar was on when he stated in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that embattled Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll was doing "a good job," but Daboll has best start sobering up and getting the Browns offense going soon.
While Daboll has improved gradually from his first year of play-calling and with the help of the emergence of Browns running back Peyton Hillis. the problem is that the offense has seemingly regressed at a alarmingly fast rate.
Since defeating New England back in Week 9, the Cleveland Browns offense has gone from being more free-flowing and flexible to conservative, unimaginative and very one-dimensional, and while that can possibly be tied into the Colt McCoy ankle sprain injury, there is simply no excuse to not use your play-makers in a creative way to keep the defense honest.
No Joshua Cribbs, no Seneca Wallace, no play-action, no Carlton Mitchell.
Mangini may either have to take away some of Daboll's play-calling duties or find someone else who can call a better game.
The Browns offense has become so predictable recently that they will continue to struggle unless some flair and creativity return, and quickly.
7. Not Using All of Your Playmakers on Offense
When a team has a 6'4", 220-lb talent such as sixth-round pick, wide receiver Carlton Mitchell riding the bench, there are some serious issues, clearly with the lack of talent at the wide receiver position.
Mitchell could at least help, and obviously this isn't the first time I've mentioned this in B/R, and I will mention it again.
A Mitchell-Massaqoui-Moore wide receiving corps could be deadly for opposing defenses.
The Browns also have Seneca Wallace and Joshua Cribbs, who can burn and stretch defenses or be used in the Wildcat.
Why the Browns are not using these potential game-changers is a mystery to all, but running your entire offense through Peyton Hillis is going to make Cleveland very easy to game-plan for.
Mangini needs to explore the possibility of using Carlton Mitchell and his other play-makers in hopes of injecting some new life into a suddenly stagnant offense.
8. Giving Rob Ryan Too Much of a Free Pass for a Very Suspect Defense
Jolly, jovial and funny are terms that can be used to described the outgoing and occasionally outspoken Cleveland browns defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan. and while he may share some of the same qualities as his brother, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, it is too bad that his defense is nowhere nearly as good.
Don't get me wrong, the Cleveland Browns defense has played well in spots and has improved greatly from last year in getting turnovers, but the Browns still lack a solid defensive line that can generate constant pressure and create sacks.
As much as Mangini deserves some criticism, Rob Ryan doesn't get enough blame for the Browns' bad and fundamentally embarrassing tackling during games, which reflects badly on Mangini since he was a former defensive coordinator himself.
Mangini needs to stop giving Rob Ryan a free pass for his defense's inconsistent play and bad tackling, and demand more consistency in generating QB sacks and forcing turnovers.
9. Questionable Play-Calling, Where Is the Play-Action and Vertical Throws?
As stated above, the Browns offense has regressed from a imaginative, mobile and dynamic offense led by Colt McCoy to a mistake-prone turnover machine during the last four weeks.
And while the Browns have been 2-2 in their last four games, the offense leans too much on Peyton Hillis, and Mangini must mix up his play-calling with some play-action, use running back Mike Bell, or do something to get going.
The simple plan to stop Cleveland is to stop Peyton Hillis and dare Jake Delhomme to beat you throwing, and so far it is working.
Mangini and Daboll must do something quickly to try and turn this offense around.
One thing is that on a 3rd-and-4, why run a three-yard route, or on a first down, why run Hillis when the defense already knows that you are going to run—this is the perfect time for play-action.
If I'm Mangini, I would demand that play-action and vertical shots down the field with hopefully Wallace under center return to the play-calling, and soon.
10. Mangini Is Not Assertive Enough to Earn the Players' Trust
You can learn a lot about a team by watching their head coach on the sidelines.
Watching Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini coach is not exactly a pleasant thing; while he seems in-tune to the game and engaged from time to time, you cannot help but notice that he hasn't quite earned the complete trust of his own players.
Although he has a lot of his former Jets in Cleveland, such as free safety Abe Elam, linebacker Eric Barton and linebacker David Bowens, it still seems that they play hard in spite of Mangini and not for him—call it an observation.
Mangini comes across as a decent person, but it just seems like the players are either beginning to tune him out or that they don't feel comfortable with his play-calling and executions at times.
These final three games will determine if this observation is indeed true.
Conclusion : Indications Are That Holmgren May Go in a New Direction.
With the Browns seemingly beginning to regress gradually and the growing concerns over whether current Browns head coach Eric Mangini is really his guy, it would not surprise me if Holmgren decides to go in another direction with a more experienced coach in his preferred West Coast-style offense.
This is more of a conflict of philosophies, as Mangini favors more of a defense-minded, run-oriented system with some play-action, while Holmgren favors more of the West Coast offense that he has been around in NFL stops in Green Bay, San Francisco and Seattle.
If the Browns were to lose at 2-11 Cincinnati and bottom out against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, expect the Mangini-being-fired speculation to only intensify.
And unfortunately for Mangini, not even a possible one-game improvement might not be enough to save him.