Eric Mangini was fired as the Cleveland Browns head coach on Monday by Team President Mike Holmgren. After two years of 5-11 records, Holmgren felt it was time to move on.
The bottom line in the NFL is victories, and 10 of them in two years isn't a lot. Eric Mangini had his issues, but they're not the whole story, and it's where he failed that becomes the focus of how the Cleveland Browns go about finding a new coach.
After two seasons, the Browns definitely still need a large talent infusion. That being said, the coaches who were in place in Cleveland these past two seasons made some very critical mistakes that brought the organization to where it is today.
First and foremost, Holmgren has to find a coach who has more of an offensive mind. Both Mangini and Romeo Crennel came from defensive backgrounds, and their offenses were lacking as a result. The Browns almost looked afraid to score touchdowns on occasion, and definitely had an allergy to the end zone.
While the saying "defenses win championships" is true, it's tough to make the playoffs if your team doesn't score points. With Holmgren, having a coach who has a definite offensive philosophy, and a plan for how to put that philosophy in action, is critical.
While the Mangini-led Browns were tough, smart and played hard, you never got the idea they had an "identity," especially on offense. The rotating carousel at quarterback obviously didn't help, but there never seemed to be any adjustments, wide receivers were hardly ever seen until these last few weeks, and other than Peyton Hillis, it was unknown from week-to-week if anyone else would be getting runs out of the backfield.
As for the defense, Rob Ryan would have the unit playing at an unbelievable level one week, and completely ineffective the next week. The next head coach has to make sure there is more consistency, no matter who the defensive coordinator is.
The new coach has to have the mindset of playing to win rather than coaching not to lose. There were several games this year where Mangini was making decisions using the latter philosophy, and as a result, Mangini lost a lot of close games because the other side was playing to win.
Holmgren said in his press conference there are no guidelines in his search, they are not looking for one specific kind of coach, but it would benefit the team if they grabbed a coach not only with experience but one who has had some success.
This team has become famous for training Bill Belichick, only to see him win Super Bowls with New England. This team now has given a lot of training to Mangini, although the jury is out on whether he can turn this into a successful head coaching stint down the road.
The Browns returned to the league in 1999 and have had only one playoff appearance in that time span. The new coach of the Browns has to take the talent, coach it up and win games. A coach who already has had success is better about transferring that winning attitude to his players.
When your head coach walks in and points to Super Bowl rings earned as a head coach, that carries a lot more weight than a head coach showing you the rings he earned as an assistant. The Browns have been down that road twice and it hasn't provided any dividends.
Jon Gruden fits the bill of most of the criteria, but that's just one example.
Holmgren has a big task ahead of him, but he needs not only a coach he can trust to coach the team, he needs a coach who can win without having everything be perfect.
While some of the outgoing coaches can complain about talent, it's a coaches job to coach up the talent he has, which is something that was lacking the last few years.
It's once again a new day for the Cleveland Browns, and the downtrodden fans of Cleveland are hoping the new coach will be the last one for quite some time.