Firing Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini has become the leading discussion for numerous media outlets, blogs and Browns backers nationwide.
Following the pathetic performance displayed by the Browns against their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the Browns final game of the season, this burning desire to can Mangini has flared to enormous proportions.
The loss to the Steelers was not a surprise—the ease at which the Steelers manhandled the Browns was shocking.
The Browns defense showed little, if any ability to stop or slow down a dominating Steelers offense. Offensively, the Browns were, shall we say, unproductive in neither the running game, nor the passing game.
This lack of production can be blamed on missed tackles, poor coverage, dropped passes, poor execution and a total lack of intensity. The Browns performance resembled a team that took the field uninspired—the let's just get it over with mentality.
This beating by the Steelers has sent Mangini supporters running for shelter, and surely has made team president Mike Holmgren's decision on keeping Mangini easier to decide.
Those who support Mangini will be quick to point out the improvements the Browns have made over last season. Many of the Browns losses have been close, and the Browns did defeat New Orleans and New England and held on strong in a fight to the finish against the New York Jets.
Those who oppose keeping Mangini will counter that logic, citing losses to less prominent teams, such as Buffalo and Cincinnati and a narrow escape from defeat by a one-win Carolina team. Toss a few questionable game-time decisions, along with what seems to be a thirst for field goals into the mix, sprinkled with a dash of poor clock management, and one can understand their stance.
As one who has defended and also criticized Mangini in the past, this last outing does throw up numerous red flags.
In the season finale against the Steelers with a shot at denying them the division title in front of the home crowd, how could the Browns seem so unprepared?
Yes, it is the Steelers; however, that does not explain how a Rob Ryan defense that is supposedly improved can be non-existent.
The offensive line offered little protection for Browns quarterback Colt McCoy. McCoy had a dismal game being hurried and sacked and was not aided by receivers dropping his passes, along with his three interceptions.
The offense showed the same lack of intensity that was presented by the Browns defense.
The Browns have shown improvement this season—there have been several losses that could have gone either way. Mangini surely has had an impact on the improvements of this team and has put a competitive team on the field. Naturally, he was aided by a great draft and input from Holmgren.
Did the Browns give up in the game against the Steelers, or did the coaches give up?
Although I have defended Mangini in the past, when a team lacks intensity, gives a lackluster performance and is totally dominated in all aspects of the game, it is a reflection of coaching.