Mangini Needs to Go: The Worst Coach Is Leading The Worst Team

Tim JacksonCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2009

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 3: Head coach Eric Mangini of the Cleveland Browns watches the action from the sidelines against  the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 3, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

He’s about as likable as a stomach ulcer.

Actually, as a Patriots fan, I’m pretty sure I enjoy the presence of my stomach ulcer more than I would enjoy his company.

There is only one man in the NFL that could be described in such a manner.

That man is Eric Mangini, head coach of the Cleveland Browns, who currently hold the title in many people’s minds as the worst team in the NFL.

Right now, everything about the Browns is messed up. Their offense is putrid and their defense is absent.

And the guy Cleveland hired to turn all this around is the worst head coach in the NFL.

Going into the season, the Browns needed a guy that could connect with the players and fans, a guy that could revolutionize their organization.

Granted, there isn’t a ton of talent to work with in Cleveland, but the team has a great fan base, and there are some players that, if in the correct situation, could contribute or develop into solid NFL players.

Unfortunately, the Browns front office elected to bring in a Bill Belichick disciple who is about as huggable as an Arizona cactus to lead the team.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

As a Patriots fan, I will fully admit that Bill Belichick to an outsider has a likability factor that sits somewhere in between the aforementioned stomach ulcer and a kidney stone.

However, at least Belichick can coach.

Mangini cannot, and after watching the debacle in New York last season and his start with the Browns in 2009, it is becoming evident that Eric Mangini is the worst coach in the NFL.

For starters, when will people realize that, in New England, the coaching tree starts and stops with the man at the top, Bill Belichick?

In theory, the Browns should know this better than anybody else, as they hired another Belichick disciple, Romeo Crennel, to try and right the ship several years ago.

Other than an anomaly of a 10-6 season, the Crennel-led Browns did nothing.

The other Belichick understudies who have moved on to claim head coaching jobs are Charlie Weis and Josh McDaniels.

At Notre Dame, Weis has never really gained any traction. They look solid so far this season, but it has taken Weis an awful long time to reach the point of respectability. Plus, who knows? The Fighting Irish could be a joke in a month.

While it is too early to fairly judge his tenure as head coach of the Denver Broncos, Josh McDaniels’ tenure in Denver hasn’t exactly gotten off to a stellar start either.

Granted they are 3-0 so far on the young season. But it’s a lackluster 3-0, with wins over Oakland, Cleveland, and another lucky one against Cincinnati. Throw in the drama with now ex-Bronco Jay Cutler and current wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and McDaniels’ first few months out there in the Rockies haven’t exactly been anything to write home about.

The biggest knock on Tom Brady has been that he’s simply a product of the Belichick designed system, that if he were to go to some other team, his numbers and success wouldn’t be even close to what it is New England.

For the most part, that assumption has been correct. Matt Cassel stepped in played well last season after not starting a football game since high school, and many players that leave New England never really live up to the expectations that they created for themselves while playing in New England.

What I never hear anyone bring up is, couldn’t all these coaches be a product of the Belichick system as well?

Perhaps Belichick has created such a great system that these coaches coming in and out of New England are simply products of his design. If this rule applies to players, why not coaches?

Mangini, so far, is just another failed product of that intricate and elaborate system.

Unfortunately, it seems like, ever since he left the nest in Foxborough, Mangini has tried to replicate Belichick’s system, and has tried to be Belichick.

There’s just one problem with that.

He’s not as good as Belichick.

While not exactly the same, it appears as if Mangini generally likes to run similar defenses to Belichick’s in New England. He also tries to be tight lipped and conservative at press conferences.

The problem with emulating Belichick’s approach at the podium is that, unless you are winning, the media and the fans aren’t going to put up with it.

Admittedly, Belichick drives even the most supportive New England fans mad at some points. However, they are all willing to accept it because, in the end, they all know that Belichick is the coach you want manning the helm of your team. He has three Super Bowl rings to prove it.

Mangini has a single trip to the Wild Card round, where, ironically, he lost to Belichick in Foxborough.

Eric Mangini needs to develop his own personality and his own style of coaching if he wants to be successful.

He can take Belichick’s defensive philosophy if he wants. He can take Belichick’s approach with the media as well. After all, they can’t be bad philosophies if they won three championships.

However, Mangini has gone overboard. He has no unique personality of his own, nothing to distinguish himself (other than the fact his record is awful and Belichick’s is not) from Belichick.

There are a couple problems with trying to imitate another coach.

One, you can never, no matter how hard you try, perfectly imitate another person. And that goes for everybody on the planet, not just football coaches.

People are unique for a reason. He shouldn’t run around trying to be like Belichick, all it leads to are the never-ending comparisons.

And that’s the other problem.

Granted, Mangini will always be compared to Belichick for the simple fact that he came from Belichick, that he was his understudy before becoming his own head coach.

Those will always be there, but if Mangini constantly tries to be exactly like Belichick and fails to live up to Belichick’s accomplishments, the only thing people are going to say about Mangini is that he is a bust, that Belichick is responsible for any success that Mangini ever had.

He needs to be his own coach, develop his own approach, if not for the reasons listed above than for the plainly obvious one that what he is doing right now is simply not working.

And it’s not like there’s a lack of proof to back that statement up.

In New York last season as head coach of the Jets, Mangini was gift-wrapped a playoff team. The Jets front office brought in guys like Calvin Pace, Damien Woody, and, of course, Brett Favre.

They also had on the roster already Thomas Jones, Laverneus Coles, and a solid defensive core.

All he had to do was let them play and not screw anything up. He didn’t have to do anything revolutionary or groundbreaking to bring this team together to form a playoff team.

He proved that throughout the first 11 weeks, when the Jets went 8-3, knocked off the previously undefeated Tennessee Titans, and were the trendy pick to go to the Super Bowl.

Too bad they finished 9-7 and third in the AFC East.

Mangini couldn’t hold the team together, and many of the players just couldn’t get along with or trust their head coach.

That doesn’t even get into the slew of poor decisions he seems to make over and over again. Fortunately, for the fate of this article, Mangini has provided plenty such examples during his time in Cleveland so far.

For starters he has assembled one of the worst offenses in recent memory. The product on the field is simply abysmal.

Their offensive line is sub par, their running back is way past his prime, they don’t have a reliable receiving threat, and the team doesn’t have a true leader at the most important position on the field.

For the most part, this is almost all Mangini’s fault.

For starters, Mangini could never seem to make up his mind throughout the preseason who his top quarterback was going to be. Instead of supporting either Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn, Mangini created a phony quarterback competition, one that stretched almost to the beginning of the regular season, when he picked the guy that pretty much everybody else knew was going to be selected for the job anyway.

By doing this, Mangini essentially denied his team the opportunity to develop chemistry and a sense of comfort with their leader. It is difficult for a football team to be successful when it has no idea who is going to be its leader.

Training camp is for selecting who will be starting at all positions, and then the four preseason games are for the players who have been selected to start to gel and get comfortable with one another.

In Cleveland’s case, they didn’t have a starter in the preseason, so instead of coming together then, they are trying to do it now.

The problem?

The games count right now. The beauty of the preseason is that the games don’t count, so it’s OK if a team is trying to iron out some of the wrinkles.

In Cleveland, Mangini and Co. are still trying to iron out a pretty darn big wrinkle, and they are losing games while they are trying to sort all of this out.

Now, it seems as if Mangini is unhappy with his quarterback. This makes his quarterback competition even worse. The only quarterback situation in the league that was worse than the fiasco that Mangini orchestrated in Cleveland was the relationship between McDaniels and his now ex-quarterback Jay Cutler.

Prior to the beginning of the season, Mangini had said that he wanted the Browns to employ an offense that featured a strong running game and a selective, conservative passing attack.

You can debate all day whether Mangini’s offensive philosophy is a good one or not, but the most egregious error here is that Mangini didn’t give his offense the necessary personnel to run such an offensive attack.

An offensive unit needs a few things to run such an offense:

  1. A rock solid offensive line;
  2. A dependable running back that can churn out tough yardage;
  3. An efficient quarterback; and
  4. A reliable receiver/tight end that has dependable hands.

In its current state, Cleveland has none of those things.

Reports out of Cleveland are that the offensive line is worse off than it was before Mangini got there and meddled with it.

As for the running back situation, they are relying on Jamal Lewis, who is way past his prime. He would still be OK in a platoon and if he were the secondary back. He just can’t be that primary guy anymore.

The quarterback situation is Mangini’s fault entirely. Neither Quinn nor Edwards have any idea who is the actual number one and neither one in all likelihood really knows what is expected of them when they take the field.

As for that receiving threat, to run the offense the Browns are trying to run, the top receiving threat should probably be more of a possession guy who has reliable hands, can go across the middle, and can fight for extra yards.

Cleveland had a guy like that. His name was Kellen Winslow.

Too bad he’s currently in Tampa.

Instead, the Browns’ primary receiving threat is a moody wideout that has cinder blocks for hands named Braylon Edwards. On top of this, Edwards is more suited for streaking down the sideline and making a big play, which, in theory, goes against Mangini’s desired philosophy.

Granted, Winslow had his off-field issues, and he was by no means a saint.

However, Winslow was at least a reliable target that Quinn or Edwards could always look for to make the catch and get a decent chunk of yards. At least he fit the job description.

It would have been more difficult to do, but if Mangini really wanted to trade someone on the offensive side of the ball, he should have shipped Edwards out of town first.

What Mangini should have done this offseason is add a couple supplemental pieces to the offensive line rather than try to drastically alter it, either draft a feature back or create a solid running back tandem through free agency, traded Edwards instead of Winslow (or, better yet, just left that whole situation alone), and, most importantly, picked a quarterback prior to the very start of the season.

On top of his poor personnel decisions, it appears as if Mangini is still just as unlikeable in Cleveland as he was in New York.

His latest example came last week when he fined a player $1,701 dollars for a three dollar bottle of water the player didn’t pay for at the hotel front desk.

Make the player fork over the $3 and then make him run a couple extra sprints following practice on Tuesday. But fining him $1,701?

That is a textbook way to alienate your players.

Throw in the other instances where Mangini has alienated players (such as busing his players to New York to work at his football camp for free) and it certainly looks like he will be light when it comes to friends in Cleveland.

To date, Eric Mangini has done almost nothing right in Cleveland.

Because of his decisions and his unforgiving personality, the Browns are 0-3 and are quite possibly the worst team in the NFL.

It will take a long time for the Browns to get back on top of their division (heck, it’ll take a lot for them to get back to .500), and to get there, the ownership will likely have to blow the team up and start from scratch.

They should probably start by looking at Mangini.

And firing him.