Eric Mangini Fired: Ranking the Top 10 Best Next Browns Coaches

Sam WestmorelandFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2011

Eric Mangini Fired: Ranking the Top 10 Best Next Browns Coaches

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    Eric Mangini fired? After weeks of speculation over his job security, the Cleveland Browns announced last night that they were firing their head coach. 

    A second straight 5-11 season doomed the former Jets boss, as the team slumped to a 2-6 finish after midseason upsets of the Patriots and Saints. 

    Now that Mangini is out, it's time to take a look at the best candidates to replace him. These 10 coaches are, in all likelihood, at the top of Cleveland's list of coaches. We'll show you why they're good fits, why they might not be a great fit and the odds that each coach will get the job. 

10. Bill Cowher

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    Why He's a Good Fit: Cowher has head coaching experience in the AFC North, something that could come in handy in one of the more talented divisions in football. He's a good coach who can maximize the Browns' potential and has had success at the NFL level. He wants to get back into coaching and the Browns could entice him with their potential.

    Why He's Not: Cowher hasn't seemed interested in building a contender, which is what the Browns need. He hasn't been mentioned in the coaching talks in there and he's not a Mike Holmgren disciple, making him an unlikely candidate to get a job under Holmgren. 

    Odds: 50-to-1. Cowher's the long shot in this race and hasn't even been mentioned. 

9. Jim Harbaugh

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    Why He's a Good Fit: We know Harbaugh can build teams into contenders, evidenced by his quick fix at Stanford. He's got the brain to run any system and he'd get along with Mike Holmgren in the front office. With a young quarterback in Colt McCoy, the Browns could be a decent fit for the Cardinal coach.

    Why He's Not: Harbaugh has shown little interest in the Browns job and Michigan seems to be one of the front-runners to get him. He'd command a hefty salary and it remains to be seen whether Cleveland could afford him. 

    Odds: 45-to-1. Harbaugh's name has been mentioned, but the Browns don't seem to have much chance to land him. 

8. Marvin Lewis

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    Why He's A Good Fit: Lewis was a coach doomed by an incompetent decision maker in Cincinnati. He was handcuffed to owner/president of football operations Mike Brown, whose football IQ is lower than his shoe size. He's a good coach who would be willing to adapt to Holmgren's system and has the kind of experience the Browns need. He'd fulfill the Browns' Rooney rule with an interview.

    Why He's Not: Lewis isn't a Holmgren-West Coast disciple, and it seems that the Browns' GM wants someone who thinks like him. His play-calling has been conservative at times and Cleveland might not like taking a coach from Cincinnati. 

    Odds: 40-to-1. The Browns could use a guy like Lewis. They just won't hire him. 

7. Ron Rivera

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    Why He’s a Good Fit: Rivera has long been a potential NFL head coach. We know that he's a skilled defensive coordinator and with his lack of offensive experience, he'd be amenable to using the West Coast system Holmgren favors. 

    Why He’s Not: Rivera's not a branch of the Holmgren/Walsh coaching tree, which hurts him in the running for the Browns job. He's been a Rooney rule minority interview for years, so it's hard to know for sure how seriously teams take him. Plus, the Browns have an in-house defensive guru in Rob Ryan. 

    Odds: 35-to-1. Rivera would be a solid choice, but he's unlikely to get the job. 

6. Steve Mariucci

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    Why He’s a Good Fit: Mariucci was, at one point, one of the hottest names in coaching. He's a firm West Coast believer and he's still got the chops to coach in the NFL. 

    Why He’s Not: Mooch hasn't coached since his ill-advised stint with the Lions and it remains to be seen whether he's actually interested in coming back. While his name has popped up as a potential candidate, he's not one of the commonly heard names. 

    Odds: 30-to-1. Mooch would be a logical Holmgren choice, but he's been gone too long to be a viable candidate right now. 

5. Rob Ryan

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    Why He’s a Good Fit: Ryan is the mastermind behind the Browns' mini-defensive resurgence and he'd be willing to use Holmgren's offense. The GM knows him and as an in-house candidate, he knows the team better than almost any other candidate. 

    Why He’s Not: Ryan's up for plenty of jobs right now, but it remains to be seen whether he actually wants to be something other than defensive coordinator. He has no head coaching experience and he's not a true Holmgren disciple. 

    Odds: 20-to-1. Ryan could be a good coach, but he lacks the experience right now for the Browns. 

4. John Fox

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    Why He’s a Good Fit: Fox knows Mike Holmgren well, which is a big bonus. He's a player's coach, a guy who would let the players be themselves and knows how to run the offense the Browns GM wants to play. 

    Why He’s Not: I'm not convinced Fox is really that good of a coach. The Panthers finished .500 or worse in six of his nine seasons, including a 2-14 howler that guaranteed them the first overall pick in 2011. His teams frequently underperformed expectations and if Holmgren wants to improve this team, Fox is a bad choice. 

    Odds: 20-to-1. Fox is a big name bouncing around, but he's not a good enough coach to rank higher than this. 

3. Marty Mornhinweg

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    Why He’s a Good Fit: Mornhinweg is a popular name among NFL pundits. He's a West Coast offense disciple who has done wonders in making the Eagles a consistent offensive team. 

    Why He’s Not: Remember Detroit? Marty's last head coaching gig didn't go so well, as he amassed a 5-27 record over two seasons, one of the worst marks in NFL history. 

    Odds: 10-to-1. Mornhinweg is a popular name and is definitely one of the dark-horse candidates for the job. 

2. Jon Gruden

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    Why He’s a Good Fit: Gruden's definitely the big name on the list of outside candidates for the Browns job and he would love the chance to develop Colt McCoy off of the potential he showed in 2010. He's a West Coast disciple and would be a great fit with the Browns' personnel. 

    Why He’s Not: It remains to be seen whether Gruden will leave the booth. If he does, there are better, more talented teams seeking his services than the Browns right now. 

    Odds: 5-to-1. Gruden would be a great choice, but there's a real chance he'll go elsewhere. 

1. Mike Holmgren

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    Why He’s a Good Fit: Holmgren built this team and knows what it's capable of. As team president, he gets first crack at the job and he's mentioned that he's got the desire to coach again. He's been a successful coach and could turn the Browns into contenders. 

    Why He’s Not: If Holmgren really doesn't want to coach, he'll stay in upper management. There's a very real chance that he doesn't come down. We still don't know if he has the energy to coach again in the NFL.

    Odds: 2-to-1. The odds-on favorite to take the job, the only thing standing in Holmgren's way is his own desire.