Browns release Brian Robiske

The Cleveland Browns released Brian Robiskie yesterday when they needed a roster spot for another running back after injuries to Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty.

Many of us were rooting for Robiskie since the Browns drafted him out of Ohio State. That said, Eric Mangini and George Kokinis were crazy to draft him at the top of the second round in their disastrous 2009 draft.

Fortunately for Robiskie, the Jaguars just claimed him off waivers so at least he’s getting another shot.

I think he can be a good possession receiver, but he just couldn’t get separation from most corners.

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates.

Mangini and Kokinis weren’t getting along

Tony Grossi reports that Eric Mangini and George Kokinis were not getting along as “both men became disenchanted with the other early on.”

This is pretty surprising, given that Kokinis was Mangini’s hand-picked GM. On the other hand, nothing ever seems to go smoothly in Berea under Randy Lerner. There’s been more drama at Browns’ headquarters than we typically see in a full season of Grey’s Anatomy. Remember the turf battles between Phil Savage and former team President John Collins?

It all goes back to Lerner. He’s doing all the hiring here, and then he leaves the building and expects things to run smoothly. Now he’s reportedly bringing in Ernie Accorsi and Bernie Kosar. The Accorsi move in particular would be a great one, but can we expect the drama to cease as long as Lerner’s the owner? Time will tell.

Bizarre circumstances surrounding the Kokinis firing

The story here is very strange according to ESPN.

Kokinis refused to resign when pressed by owner Randy Lerner, who then persisted in seeking a dismissal “for cause,” citing Kokinis for failing to meet the specific standards as dictated by his contract, the sources said. The team’s security and legal department were reviewing phone records to build its case against Kokinis, a team source said.

There also were discussions of whether the two sides could reach a financial settlement, sources said.

Television station WKYC and the Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported Monday night that Kokinis was ushered out of the Berea facility by security around lunchtime Monday.

In a statement, the Browns said, “Cleveland Browns general manager George Kokinis is no longer actively involved with the organization. In response to rumors and reports that Kokinis was escorted out of the building today, the Browns deny those reports. In the interest of protecting the parties involved we will withhold further comment.”

Dialogue between the two sides actually occurred for the past week before Sunday’s 30-6 loss to the Bears sent the Browns reeling into the bye week with a 1-7 record. For the past month, Lerner has independently investigated professional and personal conduct by Kokinis, head coach Eric Mangini and director of football operations Erin O’Brien, who left the organization within the past few days, sources said. Mangini said Monday he had spoken with Lerner and was told his job was safe for now.

It appears that problems with George Kokinis have been building for weeks. It’s not like Randy Lerner to try to terminate an executive or coach “for cause” – a common legal term in contracts which usually permits the employer to fire someone for specified reasons which would result in penalties for the employee, usually the loss of severance or other future payments. Bottom line – Lerner wanted Kokinis gone and he didn’t want to pay him the balance of his contract. We can expect to hear much more about this story.

George Kokinis out as Browns GM

All sorts of reports are flying around the web, but it appears that the Browns have let go General manager George Kokinis.

It’s hard to react to this without having all the facts, but the Browns under Randy Lerner are starting to rival the Oakland Raiders and the Washington Redskins as the most dysfunctional franchises in the NFL. As I discussed yesterday, it all comes down to Randy Lerner.

Why would the General Manager hand-picked by Eric Mangini be fired after only nine months? He’s not coaching the team, and frankly most of his moves have made sense. He hasn’t destroyed the cap and he traded guys like Winslow and Edwards for draft picks. His draft doesn’t look great so far, but for years Browns fans have complained about not drafting offensive linemen, and Kokinis picked up a center in the first round. He may not look like a pro-bowler now, but it’s not crazy to expect Alex Mack to anchor the line for years with Joe Thomas.

Problems must exist behind the scenes, but will Randy Lerner have the guts to face the media and explain himself here? With a control-freak like Eric Mangini, who’s going to come in and run this team?

Perhaps Bernie Kosar will take a bigger role. Also, the one positive bit of news is that Chris Mortensen is reporting that Lerner wants Ernie Accorsi to come in as a consultant. Now that would make sense. We can only hope he hands the reins over to Kosar and Accorsi to fix the mess he’s created.

Clueless in Berea

No, this isn’t a column about Eric Mangini. The Browns are a disaster so far, and we’ll see if Mangini can turn this around. But as bad as things have been, Mangini and George Kokinis are obviously trying to build this team over the long haul. They aren’t going for quick fixes. Trading down in the first round to draft a center should have signaled that very clearly. Trading away Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards also made it clear that they were willing to sacrifice this season to stockpile draft picks. They’re also very mindful of the salary cap as well.

That doesn’t excuse this terrible start and I have no idea if this will work, but it’s way too early to give up on Mangini.

The real problem in Berea, however, is ownership. Today we were blessed with another handful of quotes from Randy Lerner. Most of them made little sense, as he’s distraught over the performance of the team and really doesn’t know what to do. But this quote stood out:

During Sunday’s 30-6 loss to the Bears, Lerner stood watching from the tunnel between the field and the locker room with equal parts disgust and anger written on his face.

He admitted that the whole quarterback fiasco “doesn’t look sensible.” As to why the Browns have been so reluctant to play Brady Quinn, he said “I haven’t been told about anything.”

This is beyond embarrassing. He hasn’t been told anything? He owns the damn team!

It’s obvious that Randy Lerner has never managed anything in his entire life. He seems to think that the secret to creating a great football organization is to pick qualified people and get out of the way, and with Lerner that means getting completely out of the way.

But life isn’t that simple, and management certainly isn’t that simple. Problems always arise. Sometimes they have to do with personalities, other times they have to do with flawed strategies. In the end you need a strong person at the top who can oversee what’s going on and ask the tough questions. The person at the top has to be willing to get his hands dirty. He has to be a problem solver, and he has to demand accountability from the GM and the head coach. That has never happened in Berea under Lerner’s watch.

You don’t have to get involved like a Daniel Snyder. Rather, you have to stay on top of what Mangini and Kokinis are doing, and grill them about things that don’t seem to make sense.

The quarterback situation is a prime example. I was willing to give Mangini the benefit of the doubt, but it’s obvious now that the process he used to select and then announce a starter only days before the opener blew up in his face. As the owner, Lerner should be on top of this situation. What’s the plan? Instead, Lerner has no clue what’s going on. That’s a stunning admission.

At least Lerner seems to realize that he’s utterly incompetent to oversee the Browns, as he made vague references to needing help. But, his statements are complete gibberish:

He indicated that he wasn’t ready to give up on Mangini despite being obviously distraught about the state of the team. But he did strongly indicate that it’s time for him to bring in a football authority who can help straighten out this mess.

“There’s absolutely no question about that,” he said. “The highest priority that I have is a strong, credible, serious leader within the building to guide decisions in a far more conspicuous, open transparent way. I can maybe defend decisions by saying I’ve sought advice and I’ve brought people in, and we’ve gone to see people — and I think my highest priority is to have a stable figure that represents the voice that explains the decisions.

Huh? It’s not a matter of explaining decisions. Sure, the Browns could use that, but before that happens you need someone who understands the long-term strategy.

Here’s another gem:

“We need as many credible, serious eyes and ears assessing this situation as is possible,” he said.

No, you need to take control a be a leader and manage the situation. You don’t need a bunch of other “experts” telling you what to do. You’ll get all sorts of different opinions and that will just confuse the situation. Sit Mangini and Kokinis down and grill them about what’s being done now and what’s the long-term plan. If you buy into their long-term approach, then have the guts to go out in public and defend it.

The Browns are pitiful right now, but they have added draft picks and have managed the cap well. These performances would be much more problematic had the Browns gone out and spent a ton of money on free agents. In that respect last season was a much bigger disappointment. Rookie wide receivers rarely make an impact, so the Browns should benefit from having Robiskie and Massaquoi getting experience this year, as painful as that has been to watch. Alex Mack is also learning on the job but should be an anchor on the line for years. Today we also saw some inspired play from the defense. Few good teams are built overnight.

As for the current situation, it’s obvious that Brian Daboll and Mangini have no idea what to do on offense. Long-term, the Browns will likely have new quarterbacks next season, but we need to see some progress with the offense to get this season under control. Perhaps some changes need to be made with the offensive staff? Perhaps they need to commit more to Cribbs and the running game? Perhaps running a couple of screen passes or roll-outs would help slow down all the blitzes that are killing the Browns? A good manager would be grilling Mangini about these things and demanding some changes.

Perhaps the only solution is to hand the reins to Bernie Kosar. Hell, why not pay him $5 million per year to run things and handle the management issues? Bernie can certainly use the money, and Lerner hands out money like candy.