Browns fire Eric Mangini

Cleveland Browns players dump a cooler of Gatorade on head coach Eric Mangini near the end of a 34-14 win against the New England Patriots on November 07, 2010 in Cleveland. UPI / David Richard

The Cleveland Browns have fired Eric Mangini. Despite winning games against the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints, Mangini never seemed to grasp what it took to win consistently in the NFL. He made the Browns a tougher team and he clearly improved the overall situation, but his game management skills were terrible. He was obsessed with the “process” of preparing and not making mistakes, but he couldn’t find a way to beat the bad or mediocre teams on a consistent basis.

His approach in the Buffalo game summed it all up. He was so obsessed with avoiding mistakes that he forgot the Browns were the better team. He played for the field goal in a game where he should have attacked and gone for the jugular.

His consistent use of Robert Royal is passing situations was baffling. How many dropped passes does one need to see before realizing that this guy should not be a target? I know Evan Moore got hurt, but there are other people on the roster. Also, despite having backs with good hands, he rarely used the screen pass, even in games when the pass rush was a problem.

Mangini is a solid football guy, but he really hurt himself with his approach on offense. He would have benefited from an experienced offensive coordinator.

The team is better after a very solid off-season that produced an excellent draft and other gems like Scott Fujita and Peyton Hillis. If the front office keeps that up the Browns should be fine.

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Browns stun Patriots as McCoy stakes his claim

Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy celebrates a touchdown in the second quarter of a game against the New England Patriots on November 07, 2010 in Cleveland. UPI / David Richard Photo via Newscom

Colt McCoy has stakes his claim to the quarterback job for the Browns. The fans know, Mike Holmgren knows it, and Eric Mangini better know it. We’ll hear all kinds of BS as Miangini leaves the door open for Seneca Wallace or Jake Delhomme to return, but this is McCoy’s job. Period.

Despite the tortured history of Browns football over the past 10 years, we have seem some excellent performances by quarterbacks, only to see reality set in over time. So McCoy still needs to prove himself over time, but he’s certainly earned the opportunity to play out the season.

Mangini and his staff deserve a ton of credit for turning this team around. Let’s hope it continues, and I’m pretty confident they’re ready to ride this colt.

Peyton Hillis and his impact on the power running game and the passing game

CLEVELAND - AUGUST 21:  Peyton Hillis  of the Cleveland Browns runs the ball through the St. Louis Rams defense at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 21, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

We saw some sloppy play the other night when the Cleveland Browns faced the St. Louis Rams, but we also saw more good signs heading into the new season.

It was a joy watching Peyton Hillis play. He’s the kind of blue-collar player that can make this team more physical so we get back to Browns football. He’s a tough runner who is hard to bring down, and he showed that on Saturday night as he punished the Rams in the running game. On one play it took practically the entire defense to bring him to a stop, and they were lucky the refs blew the whistle as Hillis broke free again at the end of the run.

Hillis is also an excellent receiver, which gives the Browns more options in the passing game. We know Jerome Harrison can be explosive catching the ball out of the backfield, and we’re seeing that Hillis can be very effective as well. This can be a huge plus in games when the Browns are facing a tough pass rush. Hillis is a big back who can help on pass protection in games where Harrison is having trouble picking up blitzes.

Finally, we haven’t even seen Montario Hardesty yet. With Hillis, Harrison, and then Lawrence Vickers opening up holes, the running backs suddenly look like a strength on this team.

Here’s another photo of Hillis. It will be nice to see him pounding the Steelers and Ravens defenses.

CLEVELAND - AUGUST 21: Peyton Hillis  of the Cleveland Browns celebrates with Robert Royal  after a run against the St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 21, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Browns look like a real team again

GREEN BAY - AUGUST 14: Jake Delhomme  of the Cleveland Browns calls out a play during the NFL preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field August 14, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)

It’s only one preseason game, but watching the Cleveland Browns last night against the Green Bay Packers, a Super Bowl favorite, had to make Browns fans feel better for a change.

What we saw was a team that belonged on the field with their opponent. We also saw a team that had two NFL quarterbacks. Jake Delhomme looked like a solid veteran, and Seneca Wallace looked like a potential weapon at that position. We don’t have to hold our breath any more and hope that Brady Quinn can hit a wide open receiver or that Derek Anderson can stop throwing the ball right in the hands of defensive backs.

We still don’t know how good this offense can be, but we do know that they probably won’t looked like a bunch of over-matched amateurs when trying to throw the ball. Mike Holmgren realized that a change needed to be made, and I suspect that Eric Mangini was all for a change as well.

The running game also didn’t miss a beat. It was a joy to watch the Browns pound in that first touchdown from the four yard line. Lawrence Vickers is a beast at fullback, and Jerome Harrison showed again that he can gain tough yardage. With a solid running game, Delhomme should be able to have a solid season. Also, we didn’t even see the Wildcat last night and Josh Cribbs didn’t touch the ball!

Peyton Hillis showed that we now have several weapons coming out of the backfield. This kid is a great receiver, and I loved seeing the screen pass. We haven’t even seen Montario Hardesty yet.

The defense could stop one of the best offenses in the league, so let’s hope they play better against more typical NFL offenses. That said, the young DBs looked pretty good. T.J. Ward looks like a real player, even with some of the mistakes. Joe Haden looked solid, and we saw a glimpse of his athletic ability and speed on the kickoff return.

Bottom line – the Browns looked like a team that can play with the better teams in this league. Let’s see how they do next week at home against the St. Louis Rams, a team that seems to be starting over.

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