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The Mysterious Mind Of Mangini

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IJune 5, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 07:  Head coach Eric Mangini of the New York Jets looks on the field against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL game on December 7, 2008 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Head Coach Eric Mangini is a mercurial guy when it comes to his press conferences, but the Browns are completing their third straight week of minicamp, so why not see what we have learned.

But before we get to the lessons, let’s clean up some of the mess of the past week.

The player’s association is still barking about long practice days and last weekend’s marathon bus trip with the rookies to Hartford, CN, for a charity event.

I still don’t care.

Unless the league decides Mangini was a bad boy, in which case I’ll be extremely upset and wondering what Randy Lerner saw in this guy. Actually, I think that right now, but I’m going to be somewhat nice until the season starts.

Also, Jamal Lewis didn’t participate in this week’s OTAs. All Mangini would say is that Lewis had his reasons and there was no bad blood.

Translation: Lewis still is healing from his last ankle surgery. As long as he is ready for the season, I could care less if he misses a minicamp. My hunch is that also is Mangini’s attitude toward Lewis.

Now that we’ve dealt with the distractions, let’s delve into the mystery that is Mangini’s brain.

Mangini wants his players to be smart

In all of his press conferences so far, Mangini has stressed he wants players to learn the system and be effective in it.

On linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, Mangini had this to say: “The key thing is to focus on the process. That's what we are doing with Kamerion and with all of the guys, is to focus on the things that he can do better as a pass rusher.”

So fundamentals are being taught in Berea again, a welcome change from the sloppy teams tripping over their own feet of recent years.

Mangini talked further about Wimbley and how they are trying to make him a more versatile player by working him on both sides of the line.

“The more versatile he is, the more roles we can give him, the different matchups we can create,” he said.

“That is something that we worked hard on with Bryan Thomas who was another defensive end that made the transition and it's important.”

Mangini doesn’t want you to know who his quarterback is going to be

The larger media outlets are focusing on Mangini’s statement that he might wait until late in the preseason before making a decision on the starting quarterback, noting the preseason games will help him evaluate the players better.

So you’ve got the Brady Quinn supporters going into epileptic fits thinking Derek Anderson will have a great preseason, only to fall flat on his face once the games start counting.

There’s merit to this line of thought as Anderson looked great early on in 2007 when there was relatively little pressure. Once the games really started “counting,” he tightened up, didn’t make adjustments, forced things and generally looked terrible.

However, Mangini made one more statement which makes me think he’s doing to the Vikings what he hates being the victim of—not knowing who his opponent’s starting quarterback is going to be.

“One of the problems defensively is not knowing who the starting quarterback is going to be,” he said. That is always a huge problem defensively. I hated when I didn't know who their starting quarterback for the other team was. It's a huge, huge headache.”

If you examine everything else Mangini said he likes in a player, I’ll once again say Quinn will be the starter opening day, but why give the Vikings the satisfaction? Let them have one more headache to deal with that week.

Mangini likes players who think on their feet

Mangini cited Eagles running back Brian Westbrook’s play versus Dallas last year when he stopped on the one-yard line instead of scoring. This allowed the Eagles to control the clock and win the game, rather than score and give Dallas two minutes to potentially come back and win the game.

“That was a game-winning play, not by virtue of points, by virtue of not scoring and then giving Philly the chance to eat up the clock,” he said, adding clips of plays from other sports also are shown, just to illustrate how certain choices made in a split second during a game can affect the outcome.

Conclusions

Through the draft and several minicamps, we have a coach who’s shown he wants smart players who can master his system and win games by playing solid fundamental football.

We also know he’s sneaky. No fan wants a quarterback controversy, but Mangini seems to relish the thought of opposing coaches lying awake at night wondering if they’re going to get Quinn’s cerebral style or Anderson’s aggressive “wing it and hope for the best” type of play that some coaches seem to love.

While I’ve been largely complimentary of Mangini so far, I do want to stress I’m not the secretary of the Eric Mangini Fan Club.

I’m cautiously optimistic as we sit here in June. Mangini won exactly nothing worth mentioning in New York, and his last season was a meltdown resulting in his dismissal.

It’s a new day and a new team in Cleveland, and Mangini has shown he is building this team from scratch.

I think it’s too early to really get into positional arguments and who is/is not going to get the job.

That’s what these camps are for, to determine a pecking order for the drama to play out in July and August.

Stuff I can’t help but comment on concerning Cleveland sports

LeBron James: The King is fined $25,000 for not speaking to the media after Game Six last week and not shaking hands with the Orlando Magic. 

I liked the fact James took the loss personally and wouldn’t congratulate the Magic.

That kind of attitude will win a championship next year. Sportsmanship after a loss is overrated.

However, you’re the first on the podium to talk to the media after a win, be a man and face the music when you lose.

Fausto Carmona: Carmona wasn’t just demoted to the minors on Friday, he was kicked all the way down to rookie ball in Goodyear, AZ.

I can’t fault this decision. Carmona hasn’t thrown well since 2007 and his last few starts were so bad as to defy reason.

This kind of move worked for Toronto when they optioned Roy Halladay down in 2001 and it also worked for Texasand Edinson Volquez in 2007.

The weekend is here, so enjoy it, even though there's no football this Sunday.

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