Yesterday, I went into a pretty detailed description of Scott Pioli, the much decorated Vice President of Player Personnel for the New England Patriots who is reportedly the #1 choice of Browns owner Randy Lerner to replace Phil Savage as GM. My initial take? Do whatever it takes to get Scott Pioli.
There were a few new developments today, so let’s run them down real quick.
First, the Plain-Dealer reported that Randy Lerner will also interview former Atlanta Falcons GM Rich McKay for the Browns GM position. McKay was fired in Atlanta after the Michael Vick debacle tore the franchise apart. Florio floated a few interesting hypotheses about the Browns’ “interest” in Rich McKay over at PFT. One of these hypotheses is that the Browns willingness to bring Rich McKay in for an interview may have more to do with a desire to gain leverage in negotiations with Scott Pioli than anything else. Seeing as how Rich McKay’s reputation took a pretty big hit after the Atlanta debacle, I’m not so sure Florio isn’t onto something here.
Either way, I want Scott Pioli. If we can get him for perhaps less money, more power to Randy Lerner. But just get him.
Second, word also broke today that the Browns will be interviewing both Eric Mangini and Steve Spagnuolo for the head coaching spot vacated by Romeo Crennel’s firing. As reported by Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns are also currently trying to get permission to interview Josh McDaniels, Jim Schwartz, and Jason Garrett. Cabot makes special mention of the fact that there has been no word regarding the Browns’ potential interest in recently fired former Denver head coach Mike Shanahan.
I will admit that I do not know a whole lot about Steve Spagnuolo and Jim Schwartz, except that they have both been very successful as defensive coordinators for the Giants and Titans, respectively. The Cleveland Frowns have endorsed Jim Schwartz for the job, and their reasoning is pretty sound.
I also do not know much about Josh McDaniels, but obviously his candidacy would seem to be strengthened greatly if Scott Pioli is ultimately the choice as GM. If Pioli were to choose McDaniels, a great possibility considering their familiarity with eachother in New England, based on Pioli’s sterling record as a personnel man, McDaniels would certainly have my endorsement. Of course, Pioli’s success has been with choosing players, not coaches; so perhaps any endorsement would be jumping the gun a bit. Oh yeah, and there’s that little thing about former Patriots coaches not doing so well after they leave Bill Belichick. Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini.
(And for the record, in that picture to the right, does anyone else think it looks like Mangini is ready for the ‘ol lean-in-and-hope first kiss technique? Ah the good old days, before Mangini became a rat and turned Belichick in for cheating).
What a nice transition into my main point.
I want to go on record right here, right now with a little memo to Randy Lerner: stay away from Eric Mangini. There are a few primary reasons why I say this:
- Going to back to the point I just made regarding Josh McDaniels, former Patriots coaches under Bill Belichick have not done well once they leave. Eric Mangini only went 23-25 with the New York Jets, including this year’s total collapse after the team started 8-3. That’s not really very inspiring.
- I do not think that Eric Mangini’s personality is a good fit for Cleveland. He is obviously a very smart guy, and some might even say too smart for his own good. He has that same arrogance and aloofness of Bill Belichick, but without the Super Bowl titles to back it up. I really believe that in the AFC North you need a fiery, intense guy to succeed and set the proper tone for the battles against the Steelers and Ravens. Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin, Brian Billick, John Harbaugh…all are very fiery guys who were the emotional leaders for their teams. And in Baltimore, you have Ray Lewis and Ed Reed who are the true emotional leaders to supplement what comes from the coach. Well, the Browns don’t have any leaders on the field who set the tone with their attitude. And Mangini’s personality is not going to help that. Additionally, after four years of the laid back Romeo Crennel, I think Browns fans are starving for a coach who shows emotion and fire. Mangini’s arrogance may fly on the East Coast, but I don’t see it going over well in Cleveland unless he is going 14-2 every year.
- I hate Eric Mangini’s facial expressions. Play after play this past weekend during the Jets loss to the Dolphins, Mangini would have this look of arrogant disgust on his face like, “If these assholes would just do exactly what my genius plan dictates, we’d never lose.” Who knows, maybe he’s right. But I wanted to smack him in the mouth.
- Is there any lingering effect of the whole SpyGate thing? I suppose Eric Mangini did the “morally right” thing by turning in Bill Belichick for cheating. But it does raise the question of whether or not Mangini is a guy that you can trust. I think that Vinny Tresselini of Flash Sports Tonight summed it up best when reported “the real story” behind the Spygate Scandal:
Look, Eric Mangini is probably a very talented coach. From what I have heard, he is outstanding as a secondary coach and has a brilliant football mind. And the Browns apparently wanted Mangini back when they hired Crennel, but the Patriots would not allow permission to talk to him. Plus, Mangini got his first NFL job with the Browns, so he has roots. But I just think, especially at this particular time, Mangini would be a terrible decision.
And while all of the reasons stated above are important reasons why I think this, here is the main reason: hiring Eric Mangini, a coach who just got fired yesterday, would create about as much buzz as a dead bumblebee. We would go from a former New England assistant who was fired to…a former New England assistant who was fired. And Browns fans are supposed to be excited about that?
Randy Lerner, please. Say no to Eric Mangini. Or, more accurately said, do not offer any contract to Eric Mangini. Bring him in for an interview, turn over every possible stone, that’s fine. But do not punish Cleveland fans by trying to sell us on getting excited about a coach who wasn’t even good enough for the Jets.
Ideally, I’d like to see Scott Pioli take over as soon as possible and lead the coaching search himself. I realize Lerner needs to start interviewing coaches to draw from the biggest possible pool, before any good ones get snatched up, but he also needs to avoid any temptation to make a quick, hasty decision. If the Browns have learned anything from the Pittsburgh Steelers over the years it should be that stability in the front office and at head coach are the bedrocks of a consistent organization. If Randy Lerner makes good decisions over the next few weeks, he could set the Browns on a course towards consistent success.
Of course, if he doesn’t, the same old cycle of sucking and sadness will continue in Cleveland. I’m afraid that choosing Eric Mangini would not only lead the Browns in a bad direction, but it wouldn’t even offer any immediate hope of a turn around.
We’ll “wait till next year” Randy, but at least give us some hope to hold onto. If you pick Eric Mangini you’ll be pulling a Braylon Edwards: dropping the ball.