The coaching staff prowling the sidelines this year for the Cleveland Browns will look a lot different than last year’s staff, but there will be a lot of familiar faces to the new head coach.
Head coach Eric Mangini assembled most of his main staff within the first few weeks after his hire, bringing in a lot of people he’d worked with in New York and in New England while under Bill Belichek.
This makes sense since he knows what these people can do and there's a lot less stress about handing them responsibility.
To focus the offense, he’s turned to Brian Daboll to be his offensive coordinator.
Daboll, with nine years experience in the NFL, 11 total, came to Cleveland from the Jets, where he was the quarterbacks coach for the last two years. Prior to that, he was the wide receivers coach for five years for the New England Patriots.
Daboll was with New England for all three of their Superbowl victories, so Mangini is not alone in the coaching office with championship pedigree. This kind of familiarity should bring about a better coordinated coaching staff.
Under former head coach Romeo Crennel, the Browns often looked unfocused and totally unprepared on the field. None of the coaches seemed to know what was going on and clock management was atrocious.
Don’t expect that this year. With all the history Daboll and Mangini have together, this hire says Mangini trusts Daboll to get the job done and isn’t going to be worried about his quarterbacks running onto the field without the right play.
That isn’t to say that Daboll doesn’t have his work cut out for him. Mangini will rely on him to produce an effective offense hamstrung last year by poor performance and injuries. Those factors resulted in an offense ranked 31st in the league.
With a quarterback competition in action, Daboll will have ample opportunity to see what he has in both Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. However, with Quinn taking an early lead according to Mangini, look for a ball control offense that is more suited to Quinn’s skills than Anderson’s.
On the defensive side of the ball, another associate of Mangini takes control, Rob Ryan. Son of the legendary coach Buddy Ryan, he comes to the Browns with 22 years experience, 11 of those in the NFL.
Ryan spent the last five years as defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders. While the Raiders have had their problems, their defense wasn’t one of them, ranking 10th in the league last year against the pass and the Raiders also had 16 interceptions.
Ryan’s 2007 Oakland defense also was 13th in the league with 32 sacks, and was ranked third in the NFL in percentage of passes intercepted at 4.1 percent.
Before joining the Raiders, Ryan spent four seasons as linebackers coach with New England. Mangini was the defensive backs coach at the time for the Patriots. Together, they helped the Patriots win two Super Bowls. Mangini, of course, hung around for the third ring before moving on to the Jets.
Mangini likes to put pressure on the quarterback and favors communication between the line and the corners to help eliminate the deep ball threat. This year’s draft should help shore up what was a shaky line and plug the holes.
Look for Ryan to send his quickest linebackers in to pressure the opposing quarterback and force the ball to the outside where the safeties can take over. With the Raiders, Ryan’s players frequently were singled out for getting sacks and forcing interceptions.
With these two coordinators, plus defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson (from the Jets) and assistant head coach/special teams coach Brad Seely (from the Patriots), Mangini has positioned his people around the remaining coaches from last season to instill his vision on the team.
Look for a smarter team to take the field this year with more focus on running the ball and stopping the run. Ryan will try and take away the passing game to slow down the pace and control the ball on the ground.
When it comes to the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers have proved the ground game is how you grind out the season in November and December when the weather turns bad.
Mangini looks to beat the Steelers at their own game, and in true Northeast Ohio fashion, he’s doing it with the people he knows.