In his first five months on the job, Browns head coach Eric Mangini has brought some of his “New York flavor” to Northeast Ohio.
He not only is transforming his defense into the “Cleveland Jets” with six defensive players acquired in free agency and trades, but he has also brought in some of the coaches who helped him achieve two winning seasons (10-6, 4-12 and 9-7) in his last three years in New York.
The Browns new defensive coordinator and assistant head coach also have a history of working with Mangini.
Like many NFL head coaches, Mangini preferred to surround himself with familiar faces that have similar football minds. He hired Brian Daboll, Bryan Cox, Jerome Henderson, Andy Dickerson and Rick Lyle, all of whom were assistant coaches under Mangini with the Jets over the past three seasons.
New offensive coordinator, Daboll, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, and special teams coach/assistant head coach Brad Seely all figure to be imperative influences on the team's success in 2009.
Head Coach: Eric Mangini
Mangini’s NFL roots started in the same place he finds himself today- Cleveland, Ohio. He was a 23-year-old ball boy under former Browns head coach, Bill Belichick and eventually earned a position as a public relations intern with the team.
When the Browns moved to Baltimore at the end of the 1995 season, Mangini followed the team and served as an offensive assistant to Ravens head coach Ted Marchibroda.
After stints with the Patriots and Jets as assistant head coach from 1996 to 1999, Belichick became the Patriots head coach in 2000. He brought Mangini with him to New England, where Mangini coached the defensive backs.
In 2005, Mangini had an opportunity to become the defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders or Browns. He accepted a promotion to defensive coordinator with the Patriots and coached a defense that had won three Super Bowls this decade.
He earned his first head coaching position with the New York Jets in 2006, compiling a record of 23-25 over three seasons with one playoff appearance (2006 wild card).
Unlike his previous hiring of Romeo Crennel, owner Randy Lerner preferred someone who had previous NFL head coaching experience. Mangini fit that mold.
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Daboll
Daboll, who was the Jets quarterbacks coach in 2008, will assume the offensive coordinator position with the Browns.
Before Daboll got his first NFL assistant coaching gig, he worked as an administrative graduate assistant under Nick Saban at Michigan State in 1998. During the 1999 season, he assisted the MSU defensive coaches by working primarily with the defensive backs.
Before 2008, Daboll was a defensive coaching assistant in New England in 2000 and 2001. His primary responsibility was to break down film of each upcoming opponent, which entailed creating comprehensive scouting charts for Belichick and the defensive coaching staff.
Daboll then took over the wide receivers coaching position from 2002 to 2006, where the Patriots won three Super Bowl titles in four years (2001, 2003 and 2004).
Daboll’s success could be magnified due to the fact that during those five seasons, he instructed receivers such as Troy Brown, Reche Caldwell, Deion Branch, and David Patten. No Patriots receivers reached the 1,000-yard plateau during this five-year span (Branch had 998 yards in 2005).
Prior to the 2007 season, Daboll joined the Jets coaching staff and worked with the quarterbacks, most notably, Brett Favre. Daboll appeared to be doing a respectable job with Favre, as he led the Jets to an 8-3 start.
However, over the final five games, Favre threw just two touchdown passes and nine interceptions, failing to qualify for the postseason. His late-season meltdown led to the firing of Mangini, allowing Daboll to follow him to Cleveland.
Like former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, Daboll will come to Cleveland with no experience calling offensive plays. He will bring a new offensive philosophy to the Browns, possibly resembling that of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Daboll saw Favre throw away the Jets’ playoff hopes last season, as his poor play contributed to the team losing four of its final five games to finish 9-7.
Daboll does not want to go through that experience again, so he will instill an offensive game plan that emphasizes ball control and feeding the running backs the ball to set up the passing game.
Defensive Coordinator: Rob Ryan
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan comes from a football family. His father, Buddy Ryan, was the head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1986 to 1990, and the Arizona Cardinals during the 1994 season. His record in six NFL seasons was 55-55-1.
Rob’s twin brother, Rex, replaced Mangini as Jets head coach this offseason. Rex served as the Ravens defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2004 and in 2008. From 2005 to 2007, Rex coached Baltimore’s defensive line.
Rob’s first football job was as defensive coordinator with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. His first season in 1997 saw him coach a unit that ranked in the top-20 in turnover margin, rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense.
The team allowed just 302.7 yards per game that season. His efforts earned him the “1997 Sporting News Coordinator of the Year” award.
The 1998 season highlighted Oklahoma State ranking second in the nation with 41 sacks. In 1999, Oklahoma State ranked 10th in the nation in total defense.
In 2000, Ryan got his first NFL coaching gig with the New England Patriots as the linebackers coach.
In 2003, his linebackers contributed to the Patriots’ first overall ranking in points allowed (238). The team also ranked seventh overall in total defense and fourth against the run.
He held that title for four seasons before accepting the Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator position in 2004.
During the 2006 season, Ryan’s defense led the NFL in pass defense (150.8 yards per game) and third in total defense (284.8 yards per game). That same season, the defense ranked fourth in fewest yards allowed per play (4.62) and tied for fifth with four defensive touchdowns.
In 2007, Oakland’s defense was led by defensive end Derrick Burgess and linebacker Chris Clemons, both of whom were ranked in the top-10 in the AFC in sacks (8 sacks each). Linebacker Thomas Howard recorded six interceptions, which tied for fifth in the league.
The 2008 Oakland Raiders defense ranked 10th in the league against the pass (201.3 yards per game) and interceptions (16) and 13th with 32 sacks.
Overall, in Ryan’s five seasons with the Raiders, his defensive units have ranked near the bottom in total defense. However, these numbers may be misconstrued due to a poor Oakland offense. The Raiders’ overall defensive rankings are as follows: 2008- 24th (24.3 points per game), 2007- 26th (24.9), 2006- 18th (20.8) 2005- 25th (23.9), 2004-31st (27.6).
An upgraded Browns offense and Ryan’s aggressive style will hopefully improve an anemic defense in Cleveland.
Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator: Brad Seely
Perhaps the least known coach of the three on the Browns staff is Brad Seely. He is reunited with Mangini after the two worked together in New England for six seasons.
Seely’s path to the Browns assistant head coach position began back in 1978 at his alma mater, South Dakota State, where he served as a graduate assistant.
He was able to land the same job the following year with Colorado State. and eventually earned a promotion to offensive line coach in 1980.
Seely's hard work earned him three more coaching positons at Southern Methodist University, North Carolina State and the University of the Pacific.
His final college coaching gig ended following five seasons with Oklahoma State in 1988, where he coached the 1988 Heisman Trophy winner, Barry Sanders.
Seely’s area of expertise appears to be special teams, which he has coached since 1989.
He coached the Indianapolis Colts special teams unit and tight ends from 1989 to 1993. From 1994 to 2008, Seely worked with the special team units for the Jets, Carolina Panthers and Patriots.
In 1996, Seely helped build an expansion Carolina Panthers team into a playoff contender. There, he coached the NFL's 1996 top kick return specialist and placekicker, Michael Bates and John Kasay, respectively.
In 1996 and 1997, Bates became the first player in 35 years to lead the league in kick return average in consecutive seasons. His accomplishments earned him two Pro Bowl selections during those seasons.
Kasay also earned a Pro Bowl birth, converting a then-NFL record 37 field goals.
Seely's work earned him "1996 Special Teams Coach of the Year" honors.
However, Seely's best season coaching may have come in 2001 with the Patriots. That year, the Patriots coverage units ranked first in punt returns (allowing 4.8 yards per return), first in gross punt average (allowing just 39.5 yards per punt), and first in net punt average (limiting opponents to 31.6 net yards per punt).
Unlike former head coach Romeo Crennel, Mangini hired assistants whom he has worked with in the past and share similar football philosophies.
Crennel’s first offensive coordinator, Maurice Carthon, never worked with Crennel prior to being in Cleveland.
The same goes for Chudzinski and former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
Browns fans are hoping that Mangini, Daboll, Ryan, and Seely can maximize the potential of the players on this roster.