The Best Decision About A Coach Debate – The Best Change Was NO Change At All!

January 18, 2010

Read the arguments from Loyal Homer and Sports Geek.

Am I the only person who WAS NOT surprised that the Cleveland Browns decided to keep Eric Mangini as their head coach for 2010 and beyond?

As a Cleveland Browns season ticket holder, I stood witness to the frustration and embarrassment that was the 2009 football season. Any coach whose team starts the season with a dreadful record of 1-11 is going to have his job-security questioned, and believe me, there were PLENTY of angry Dawg-Pounders out there who would have loved to see a new head coach for the Orange and Brown. Even though Mangini and the Browns managed to roll off four consecutive victories to close out the season, there was still a sense that Mangini’s days in Browns Town were numbered.

Fueling that fire further was the late season hiring of Mike Holmgren as the Browns’ club president. Holmgren, who has assumed responsibility for all of the team’s football operations, has a very impressive history of his own as head coach, and a lot of folks around “Believeland” thought (or should I say hoped) that Holmgren might want to once again stalk the sidelines.

Despite all the speculation, Holmgren decided to stick with Mangini, and I must say that he made the right choice. Not because I think of Mangini as the answer to the Browns’ woes, but instead because the final four weeks of the Browns’ season serves as proof that Mangini might know what he is doing after all.

Mangini was brought to Cleveland to rebuild a team, and like the old adage says – “Sometimes you have to re-break a bone before it can truly heal.”

It was clear from the word go that Mangini’s first priority was to fix the ‘attitude’ problem. Distracting and disruptive players had no place in Mangini’s locker-room, regardless of the talent they displayed on the field. Locker-room poisons like Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards served as the most prominent examples of Mangini’s house-keeping, as both had created a lot of off-field drama for the team in recent years.

While that loss of talent hurt the team early, it was clear that the mindset of the team was beginning to change, and that was a GOOD thing!

However, the absences of a legitimate top-receiver and Pro-Bowl tight end, combined with the lack of a bonafide starting quarterback, brought the situation in Cleveland to rock-bottom. Injuries piled up, including the loss of Pro-Bowler Shaun Rogers (another player like Edwards and Winslow with a reputation of self-service) and Jamal Lewis (who clearly had no problems of his own in airing the team’s dirty laundry), and it looked like the team was destined for a last-place finish.

But it was precisely at this point that the “healing” process began. The roster became populated with guys that nobody had ever heard of. Names like Kellen Winslow, Jamal Lewis, Shaun Rogers, and Braylon Edwards were being replaced by Evan Moore, Jerome Harrison, Chris Jennings, Mike Furrey, Blake Costanzo, and Matt Roth. While those guys did not have the pedigree or the recognition that their predecessors had, they possessed something much more valuable that had been lacking on the shores of Lake Erie for a very long time – HEART!

They did not care that the Browns were 1-11 (well, I am sure they cared, but not in the same finger-pointing, self-preservation sort of way that guys like Winslow and Edwards were known for). Instead, they were excited for an opportunity to play in the pros. They WANTED to be a part of the TEAM, they WANTED to see each other do well, and it showed on the field. It turned out that Mangini was correct – the right attitude bred success.

Timed re-energized locker room was Mangini’s seeming acceptance that it did not really matter WHO played at the quarterback position. Instead of trying to get results out of two quarterbacks that lacked any real consistency, Mangini took the ball out of their hands altogether. The result was a return to fundamental smash-mouth football that the fans in Cleveland love to see. Instead of players worrying about their contracts and playing time (take note Joshua Cribbs), the “new” Browns stepped up and turned their season around.

They played inspired football, and although their level of opposition was not the strongest in the league, they did manage to pull off their first win in MANY years against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They beat the teams they were supposed to beat, which is more than what can be said for a lot of teams out there this year!

The biggest mistake that Holmgren could have made would have been to stop that positive momentum. The team seems to be moving in the right direction, and Mangini was the right choice for the Browns!

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg! Bookmark and Share

The Starting the Back Up Quarterback Debate – Third Try is a Charm!

November 25, 2009

Read Babe Ruthless’ argument and Loyal Homer’s argument about which NFL backup quarterback SHOULD be starting for their team right now.

One game does not a season make!

Desperation can make people do funny things. While many fans from Cleveland are complaining about the embarrassing manner in which the Browns lost to the Detroit Lions last Sunday, there are just as many folks who cannot seem to stop talking about Brady Quinn’s performance. Many fans around the city of Cleveland are allowing the pleasant memory of a single, solid performance by Quinn to overshadow the HORRIBLE performances by Quinn and fellow Browns quarterback Derek Anderson from the first eight games of the season. With the same delusional hope that every Browns fan feels during the preseason – that “this is FINALLY the year that it will all turn around…” – many of the Cleveland faithful appear ready to hand over the Browns’ offense, the keys to the city, and their first-born children to Brady Quinn.

I hate to be the rain cloud on this fools parade on the banks of Lake Erie, but the excitement will be short-lived.

I will give Quinn the credit deserved for that one game against the Lions. His performance of 304 passing yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions was impressive, there is no doubt about it. That does not mean, however, that all of the Browns’ problems have been solved. In the interest of “keeping it real” I feel obliged to remind everyone that this performance, albeit impressive, did come against the worst passing defense in the league. The Detroit Lions have given up more passing yardage than any other team in the league, the Lions are tied for the fewest interceptions in the league, and Detroit has allowed the most points. I will say it again – Quinn’s result from last Sunday were impressive, but it MUST be taken with a grain of salt.

In reality, the Cleveland Browns are no better off after Quinn’s performance than before it. The team has some SERIOUS offensive issues that have yet to be addressed. The Browns traded away the two best pass-catchers on the team – Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, Jr. – this season and the right side of the offensive line is about as effective at protection as a bullet-proof vest made out of toilet paper. The current receiving corps is comprised of one pseudo-established receiver (Chansi Stuckey) two rookies (Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie), a kick returner (Josh Cribbs), and a part-time defensive back (Mike Furrey). For the running game the Browns are relying on Jamal Lewis, who announced three weeks ago that he will be retiring at the end of this season.

I know that it is tempting to view Quinn’s performance from last Sunday and argue it as proof that Quinn should be starting, but I want to propose another option – why not give current third string quarterback Brett Ratliff a try?

Derek Anderson has proven that he cannot successfully lead the Cleveland Browns offense any more. This season, Anderson has a passer rating of 36.2 and has thrown only two touchdowns against nine interceptions on the year. Quinn’s results (including his inflated stats from the game last weekend against the worst defense in the NFL) are not much better. Thanks to the charity game in Detroit, Quinn’s quarterback rating has SKYROCKETED to 70.4, and he was able to draw his touchdown total even with his interception total at five apiece. Before he had stepped onto Ford Field, he had thrown only one touchdown against five interceptions on the season.

Although Ratliff has not taken a professional snap yet, his performance at college in Utah was very impressive. During his final season with the Utes Ratliff passed for 2,796 yards, 23 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions. He successfully led Utah to an eight-win season in 2006, a season capped off by a victory in the Armed Forces Bowl.

I am not saying that Ratliff will be any better than Quinn or Anderson. It is obvious, though, that Browns head coach Eric Mangini has been reluctant to rely on Quinn. This is proven by the fact that Mangini benched Quinn after only three games and allowed Anderson to consistently fail for the next FIVE games before going back to Quinn, only because it would have likely cost Mangini his job if he had stuck with Anderson any longer. The team is clearly not in playoff contention; and, with the lack of any truly reliable personnel around the quarterback position, it is safe to assume that Quinn (despite one week of success) will likely continue to struggle throughout the rest of the season. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, why not at least give Ratliff a shot?! Let’s be honest, with the poor pass-blocking ability of the right side of the Browns’ offensive line, Ratliff will be playing by the end of the year anyway due to the inevitable injuries that will come as a result of the repeated hits absorbed by whomever takes the snaps in Cleveland.

After Quinn’s performance last Sunday I understand that it would be foolish not to start him against the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend. WHEN Quinn begins to struggle again or WHEN he gets hurt (whichever comes first), Mangini should look to Brett Ratliff, not Derek Anderson, as the next quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg! Bookmark and Share

The Naming The Starting Quarterback Debate – Mangini Blew It!

September 16, 2009

Read the debate intro, Sports Geek’s argument, and Loyal Homer’s argument regarding whether or not Eric Mangini made the correct decision in keeping his starting quarterback a secret.

I have some advice for Eric Mangini: When you make a decision that almost NOBODY agrees with, it is probably safe to assume that they (not you) are correct.

The victory for this debate goes to Sports Geek.

Sports Geek hits the nail right on the head. Mangini over-thought the situation, and ended up hindering his own team rather than the opposition. When looking at the mistakes that caused the most problems for the Cleveland Browns on offense, every one of them could at least partly be attributed to a lack of comfort or familiarity between quarterback Brady Quinn and his teammates.

When Quinn threw his only interception of the game, it was clearly the result of miscommunication between him and wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Quinn threw the ball believing Edwards would cut left, but Edwards instead cut right believing that Quinn was throwing elsewhere. The result was a ball thrown to a place where no receiver could catch it, and it was easily intercepted by the Vikings. The Browns were also called for four false-start penalties, several of which came at very costly times. Perhaps if the offense had more time to familiarize themselves with Quinn’s cadence, they would have been more prepared during a game situation, and would have jumped less in those critical moments.

Do not get me wrong, Mangini’s decision to keep his starter a secret is not the sole reason why the Browns lost on Sunday, but he did not do the team any favors. His decision to keep his choice a secret actually backfired, because it created AT LEAST as much confusion for his own team than it did the Minnesota Vikings.

Loyal Homer’s argument, in theory, is absolutely correct. Mangini as head coach of a professional football team should be doing everything in his power to give his team every possible advantage that he can gain for them (especially with the 2009 Browns, who will likely need all the help they can get). The problem that I have with Mangini’s decision in this case is that his choice negatively impacted his own team just as much as it did the Vikings. Eric Mangini, in addition to his responsibility of trying to gain every tactical advantage that he can, also has a responsibility to protect the weaknesses of his own organization. The latter was sacrificed last Sunday, and the Browns paid the price.

I have no problems with a coach trying new, innovative, or even unorthodox tactics to gain an edge. But, it is irresponsible to take those measures when it impedes your own team’s ability to develop. Mangini’s FIRST responsibility is to create a cohesive and productive unit that will successfully compete on Sunday afternoons. This was simply a matter of putting the horse before the cart.

Those tactics of gamesmanship and subversive communication are rarely successful when used to mask a team’s deficiencies. Secrecy works for Bill Belichek and the New England Patriots because they function successfully as a team. Fundamentally they are a sound organization, and have consistently proven that they can succeed in almost any situation. For a team like that, the strategies of misinformation and misdirection are successful because they are being used to support strong performances, rather than mask poor ones. Eric Mangini should first focus on developing a fundamentally sound team. Until then, he should forget about the mind-games.

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg!

The Naming The Starting Quarterback Debate – If a “Mangenius” Does Something that Doesn’t Make Sense to Me, Why Do I Think HE’S Wrong?

September 15, 2009

Read Sports Geek and Loyal Homer’s argument on whether or not Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini’s decision to keep the starting quarterback a secret was a good one.

For weeks building up to (and through) the preseason, there was much speculation in Cleveland as to who the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns would be. Would it be the 2007 Pro Bowler Derek Anderson, or the highly touted 2007 draft pick Brady Quinn? Last season, it appeared that Quinn had officially claimed the spot when he replaced Anderson mid-season. However, subsequent injuries by both Quinn and Anderson during the 2008 season, along with the announcement that Eric Mangini would replace Romeo Crennel as head coach, threw everything back up in the air.

When Mangini came into the Browns organization, he immediately announced that there would be an open competition for the starting quarterback position. All through training camp, there was speculation around which quarterback actually had the edge. Neither seemed to take the steps necessary to claim the starting position outright, leaving the public with only guesses as to what was going on in the head of Mangini.

Then, in a move that had many people around the league scratching their heads, Mangini publicly stated that he would keep the starting quarterback a secret even after deciding who it would be. His reasoning – to keep the Vikings guessing.

The Minnesota Vikings were scheduled as the Browns’ week one opponents, and Mangini felt that he was gaining a competitive edge over Minnesota with the secret because it forced the Vikings to prepare for defending against two different quarterbacks, instead of just one.

Now that the first week of NFL competition is complete, with the Vikings beating the Browns by a score of 34-20, I am asking my esteemed colleagues at The Sports Debates to evaluate Mangini’s decision.

In hindsight, was it a wise decision by Eric Mangini to keep his choice as starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns a secret until the last possible moment?

Keep in mind that losing the game does not automatically mean that Mangini made a poor choice. If not for running back Adrian Peterson’s impressive performance on offense for the Vikings (180 rushing yards and three touchdowns), the Vikings could have lost on Sunday.

Loyal Homer will argue that this decision, although it did not help change the outcome of the game, was still a wise decision on the part of Eric Mangini because the Vikings had to split their defensive focus and could not prepare for simply one gameplan. Sports Geek will argue that the choice was a bad one.

So which is it? Were these the actions of a mad-man or a Man-genius?!

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg!

The NFL Training Camp Position Battle Debate – The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow!

July 31, 2009

Read Sports Geek and Loyal Homer’s arguments on which position battles they feel will be the most interesting during the 2009 NFL preseason.

I feel like I’m stuck in line at Epcot right now, just having stepped off of the ‘Spaceship Earth’ ride where I’ve taken a journey through time, and am waiting to step into ‘Project Tomorrow!’

That’s what life has been like for a Cleveland Browns fan ever since their return to the league in 1999. The Cleveland faithful have been shown pictures and told stories of the franchise’s past, and they have been promised about the excitement that the future will bring, but for this moment? They are stuck in some sort of limbo, just waiting for the future to arrive.

Browns fans are upset, and with good reason! Things have already started off poorly for the Dawgs in 2009. Following an abysmal close to the 2008 season, the Browns once again have gone back to the drawing board beginning with team owner Randy Lerner’s purge of the front office. He fired general manager Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel, replacing them with George Kokinis and Eric Mangini, who officially becomes the fifth head coach for the Browns since their return, ushering in yet ANOTHER era of “rebuilding” for the city on the banks of Lake Erie.

“Mangenius” and the Browns have also fallen victim again to the alleged “Cleveland Curse” by losing wide receiver Donte Stallworth to a DUI manslaughter charge. Recently another wide receiver, Braylon Edwards, was also placed on the non-football injury list… and the hits just keep on coming (without even taking the field)!

More frustrating is the lack of any stability at the quarterback position. For a city that once proudly boasted the names of Otto Graham, Brian Sipe, and Bernie Kosar, 2009 will mark the beginning of yet another quarterback controversy. In fact, the Browns quarterback position has been so inconsistent and unstable that 14 different players have started at least one game at the position since 1999. A position, need I remind you, that is supposed to be manned by the on-field leader of the team.

So, why on earth do I feel that the Browns QB position battle will be the one to watch this year? I’ll give you two reasons.

First, it is really the only exciting thing worth watching if you are a Browns fan.

Second, it will finally allow the Cleveland organization and its fans an opportunity to put a face to the franchise.

When you think about the teams in football that have consistently performed well over the past decade, the one thing they have all had in common is stability and solid leadership from the quarterback position. You can look no further than the New England Patriots and Tom Brady, the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning, or the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger as proof.

That has been the missing piece for Cleveland, but the Browns are FINALLY in a position where they can place the hopes of their franchise on the shoulders of a quarterback who may actually be able to take the reins of a franchise and be the leader for the foreseeable future.

This isn’t the same quarterback controversy that Browns fans have known for the past 10 years. The team isn’t choosing between Trent Dilfer and Charlie Frye, or Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb. Rather than being forced to take gambles between arguably substandard talent or a “veteran” who is likely on their last legs, the Browns finally have an opportunity to choose between two quarterbacks who (on paper at least) appear to both be capable of successfully leading the team for many years to come.

On one hand you have Derek Anderson. Despite a dreadful 2008 performance, Anderson is a Pro Bowl quarterback with tremendous arm strength. In his defense, many of Anderson’s woes last year can be blamed on downright pathetic receiving (that includes YOU, Braylon) and injury problems. Sure, there are questions that Anderson will need to answer – specifically around his accuracy – but he has nonetheless proven that he can succeed on the field.

On the other hand you have Brady Quinn. Quinn came in as a very highly touted rookie quarterback having led Notre Dame to a BCS appearance during his final year before being drafted in the first round by the Browns. Quinn was instantly labeled as the “quarterback of the future” for the Browns, but due to the surprising success of Anderson (and the entire Browns team) in 2007, followed by injury problems in 2008, many people still feel that Quinn is untested and unproven. When healthy Quinn has been able to demonstrate his natural talent as a passer causing many in “Believe-land” to still expect Quinn to be the man lining up behind center.

While there are doubts about both (otherwise there wouldn’t be a position battle, obviously), each has shown the potential to be a “franchise” quarterback. I think it is safe to assume that whoever Mangini chooses to take the field in September will be the quarterback of the Browns for many years to come. As for the “other guy?” My guess is that he’ll be suiting up in different colors.

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg!

The NFL Head Coach Hot Seat Debate, Training Camp Edition – Brad Childress… Is It Getting Hot In Here?

July 24, 2009

Read the Bleacher Fan’s argument that the Cincinnati Bengals’ Marvin Lewis is on the hottest seat and Loyal Homer’s argument that the Dallas Cowboys’ Wade Phillips is on the hottest seat.

Anyone who has a brain knows that “retired” quarterback Brett Favre is going to be donning the Minnesota Vikings’ purple and gold for the 2009 NFL season. With that out of the way, allow me to present you with facts point to Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress has his rump planted squarely on the hottest seat in the NFL as training camps open across the country.

Here is the scene up in Childress’ office in Minneapolis:

The scene opens with Brad Childress sitting behind a large, darkly stained wooden desk. Across the desk from Childress is a chair containing a bunch of eggs. A shadowy outline lurks in a darkened back corner of the office.

Childress: “Thank you for coming today.”
Eggs: “It’s our pleasure, we’re really happy to be on board with you this year.”
Childress: “Yea, I really hope this relationship works out. I can’t foresee any issues.”
Eggs: “Us either, that sounds great.”
Childress: “Well eggs, shall we get introductions out of the way?”
Eggs: “Yea, by all means, take it way. But, you can call us Brett Favre.”
Childress: Casually points to the shadows in the corner of the office as a shift in the room’s light reveals what is lurking in the back.”Okay, great. Eggs, er, Brett Favre, meet your basket.” The eggs calmly jump into the basket without a second thought.

and… SCENE!!

Childress has mortgaged his entire future on the success of Favre’s aging right arm. It’s a risky proposition (just as Eric Mangini). Especially for a coach who is an even 24-24 in the regular season during his tenure in Minneapolis, not including an 0-1 record in the post-season after the team lost at home in the first round of the 2008 playoffs to an average Philadelphia Eagles team 26-14. Though the Vikings have progressed under Childress each season (starting 6-10 in his first season, 8-8 in his second season, and 10-6 last year), many believe the talent at Childress’ disposal is well ahead of the results.

Consider the powerful running game headed by former rookie of the year Adrian Peterson, one of the best running backs in all of football. Many believe the offensive line continues to improve despite the departure of aging center Matt Birk thanks to an already solid left side of the line with left guard Steve Hutchinson and left tackle Bryant McKinnie. Highly-touted draft pick Phil Loadholt is expected to start at right tackle and anchor a side of the line that was troublesome last season. First round draft pick Percy Harvin is expected to add needed athleticism to the wide receiving corps, and the heart of last year’s team – the defense – is expected to maintain their level of play.

In the weakest division in football (thanks, Detroit Lions), winning the division should not be a goal, it should be an expectation.

Brett Favre, though, is the key to the entire operation. Childress has bet his future the quarterback situation, since his questionable handling of Tavaris Jackson – and the even more questionable decision to acquire journeyman quarterback Sage Rosenfels – only brings further scrutiny to the quarterback position and Childress’ decision making. Favre must have another great year to secure owner Zigy Wilf’s confidence in his coach. And the definition of “great” has been expanded to include winning the division and the NFC.

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg!

The NFL Practice Jersey Debate – This Post Brought To You By Carl’s Jr.

June 5, 2009

I think it’s funny that this is even news…

Do I have a problem with the fact that the NFL is allowing teams to place patches containing sponsors on their practice jerseys? Absolutely not! Nobody is going to see these patches except for the few hundred people who actually go watch training camp anyway.

The beauty of a capitalist society like America is that organizations have the right to do whatever they want in order to make money, as long as it doesn’t infringe upon the rights of anyone else. Who cares if the Packers or Texans want to have a “Brawndo: The Thirst Mutilator” patch on their sleeve while they do calisthenics in front of a crowd of boy scouts and fantasy football addicts? (MAN do I miss football!)

I visited the Cleveland Browns’ Training Camp many times, and there’s already sponsorship crap everywhere! From spinning the banking wheel to signing up for health insurance, the whole scene is littered with slogans and “Official Team Sponsor” verbiage. Why should a player’s jerseys be any different?

People visit Training Camp to get a pre-season look at the talent on their beloved teams. They get to enjoy some warm, summer air and resume their football conversations about which team has really made the move to contend, etc. Now, there’s just going to be a patch on a player’s practice jerseys to go with it.

I understand that the NFL is already a money-making machine that really doesn’t need to invent new ways to earn income, but is it hurting anyone?! What if this is how the Packers and Texans intend to offset the need to raise ticket prices? Would it really make a difference?!

I do think the NFL should keep this new advertising opportunity limited strictly to pre-season practice. I don’t need to see what appears to be two NASCAR pit crews rolling around on the gridiron on a cold November Sunday. I also don’t need to hear Eric Mangini as he hoists the Vince Lombardi Castrol GTX Motor Oil Trophy over his head (prediction?!), screaming “This one is for the fans, and for the good, hard working people at UPS, and for the Home Depot, and Valtrex, and Oops, I Crapped My Pants adult diapers!”

There is a lot of pride and history in the appearance of each team’s uniform and helmet. The logo means something, the colors mean something, the numbers mean something, and I don’t want to see a StayPuft Marshmallow Man logo slapped on the back of any helmets to take away from that tradition. Other than that, advertise away!

Why don’t we talk about the REAL problem of appearance at NFL training camps… guys like Romeo Crennel, Bill Parcells, and Wade Phillips running around in sweat-soaked tee-shirts and shorts that are a little too short for comfort. That’s just disgusting!!!

(Site note: Debate links: Intro, Loyal Homer, Bleacher Fan, Sports Geek).


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.