Friday, January 9, 2009

Browns Fans Celebrate: Everything is fixed now!

If you want to hear a glowing report about how the Browns have turned the corner and finally appear to be on the right track, please stop reading now.

I have no problem with Eric Mangini being hired as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Absolutely none. He's young, he's had two out of three winning seasons, and I thought he got a raw deal in New York. To be truthful, I think on paper he makes more sense than just about any other head coaching candidate, including Mike Shanahan.

The substance of this hire is not the problem. The process culminating in the hire, however, is indicative of everything that is wrong with and dysfunctional about the Browns. The problems with the process have been well documented elsewhere so I'll just boil then down to a few lingering questions. 1) Why did Lerner hire a coach before a GM? 2) Why haven't we heard any explanation as to why no other franchise wanted this seemingly desirable coach? 3) Did Lerner have any assistance from football people when making this decision? 4) Why didn't Lerner interview Shanahan? 5) Why wasn't the owner of the organization up on the podium next to the new head coach when he was introduced?

To this point, Lerner has not offered anything in the way of competent answers to any of these questions. Consider a few blurbs from a recent article:

“When you are going out to hire a head coach and a General Manager, it
seemed to me that the head coach hire is the more urgent one,” Lerner
said. “The longer you wait, the less people are available.”

The problem with that logic? Of the four other head-coaching
vacancies with teams other than Mangini’s former employer (Rams, Lions, Broncos, Raiders), Mangini had generated no interest.

Nothing. No interviews, no rumors, no speculation. Nothing.

. . .

So, as it now stands, whoever gets the G.M. job in Cleveland will be stuck with a head coach for the first four years of his tenure. And this means that, if George Kokinis doesn’t take the job, Lerner will be in the unveniable position of having to persuade a G.M. to work with a man who might not have been the G.M.’s first choice in a head coach.

Or his second choice.

Or his tenth choice.

I'm not trying to say that Florio and are the gospel when it comes to the NFL. That being said, at the very least, this adds credence to my belief that for one reason or another, the other owners and GMs around the league are all secretly laughing and pointing at the Browns...again.

I have defended Randy Lerner since the day he inherited the Browns. I thought he made a defensible decision when he hired Savage and retained him over Collins and that it was simply unforseeable bad luck that Savage turned out to be such a disaster. While it concerned me that Lerner continued to allow the organization to butcher its media relations, I still blamed Savage first and foremost.

With regard to this hiring process, however, whether you wish to view it as puzzling, a bit of a head scratcher, or just completely embarassing, I place the blame squarely on Lerner's shoulders. It is my sincere hope that Lerner lands Kokinis as planned and the Browns begin to get things turned around for good. With that said, however, as one CMCR commenter recently suggested, if this thing gets turned around, it will be because of dumb luck rather than shrewd, calculated, and thoughtful action on the part of the owner.

Sadly, thus far, it appears that the winds of change have only blown more of the same old incompetence into Berea.


Art Brosef said...

Agree about Mangini and about Lerner. Ill run down my opinion on your five legitimate questions.

1) This is puzzling to me. I listened to both of Lerners interviews on WKNR and WTAM yesterday, and Lerner attempted to explain his logic. According to Lerner, it has to do with "timetables." He claims that GMs operate on a "draft" year while coaches run on a "season" year. His point being, coaches from every team are being interviewed all over the country, and there are many with contracts expiring who are sure to get other jobs. The sooner a head coach is in place, the sooner he can put his staff in order the way he prefers.

2)I have no idea, and it makes no sense.

3 We will never know. Probably, but I dont know who those people would be. A scary theory could be that they were officials in the building who would steer him a direction of a coach who would retain them, and that was their main motivation.

4) I dont know, and personally I dont care. Shanahan rode Elways shirt tails for a couple titles, and has largely underachieved since. Plus he would want total control over the roster, a job he has failed at time and time again. This is the man who drafter Maurice the 3rd round!

5) This is completely inexcusable and utterly classless. said...

After the Crennel era it was clear this team needed a disciplinarian at head coach. Firey would have been nice too. Head Coaching experience-a must. That embodies Cowher. Cowher said no. Mangini was the only person available to embody two out of the three traits we needed in a head coach (please correct me if I am wrong on that point).

We could have gotten Mangini a few weeks later. So what? Why wait. Looking at the availalbe condidates, none of them would have been what we needed. It is important to get a staff in place. It is important to sign these coaches before they sign elsewhere.

Why does the GM have to be in place before the coach? The GM knows the identity of the coach coming in and knows if they can agree on players. Besides, the coach should be the face of the franchise, not the GM.

Biff said...

I'm not arguing that he was the wrong hire. I'm arguing that the Browns handled this coaching search like a 3rd rate organization and as long as we as fans continue to tolerate them acting like a 3rd rate organization, we can't expect any drastic changes in the organizational culture.

You can't just look at the result and ignore the fact that the situation was badly mishandled. said...

I understand you are only criticizing the procedure for the hire and not the hire itself. I just think some of the problems you find aren't problems.

I don't think you have to have a GM in place before a coach.

I don't think you need to keep interviewing people after you found your guy. In a related note, that is the problem with the Rooney rule. Teams shouldn't be compelled to give sham interviews for coaching candidates when they know their guy just to comply with a rule or, in the case of Mangini, a fan base and media.

Biff said...

Unless you are going to invert the organizational heirarchy, the GM should be hired before the coach. It makes sense for the GM to hire the coach because A) the coach works at the pleasure of the GM and B) the GM is buying the groceries so he has to know he has a coach that will follow his recipe.

The Rooney rule is a separate issue but I disagree with your point about continuing to interview coaches. How do you know how you will feel about another candidate until you've interviewed him? And why not at least explore every avenue if "your guy" is in no danger of being hired somehwere else? said...

1) The GM candidate knows the coach before he signs his contract. If he isn't on board with the owner's recent hire as coach then he wont take the GM job.

2) I don't put as much stock into the interview as I guess you do. For the most part, people around the league know each other and know what they are about. Especially for a head coach with nfl head coaching experience (which was among the top of the requirements for our next coach). Every so often you hear of someone blowing away an interview, but I think those are all former assistants (correct me if I am wrong on that). The interview, therefore, I don't think is as big a deal when hiring a head coach with experience is a priority.

3) We could have waited because seemingly no one else was interested in Mangini. But then we'd run the risk of losing out of assistants to other teams. Let's see how quickly we can get a staff in place to see if this argument holds water. And no, by quickly I don't mean unresponsibily.

Art Brosef said...


"You can't just look at the result and ignore the fact that the situation was badly mishandled."

This is a convoluted argument.

If you are happy with the result - and that is a seperate issue altogether - then you have a hard time arguing against the process that prodcued that result.

We are not in the meetings. We are not making phone calls. We are not in the building. We dont know who Lerner talked to, who he consulted, how the interviews went, etc.

You cant solve a puzzle correctly and have someone criticize how you went about it.

Im not saying the puzzle is indeed solved, but you understand my point here im sure.....

Biff said...


It's a harbinger. It's like a quarterback making a terrible throw into double-coverage that gets tipped and is eventually caught by another receiver who takes it in for a score.

When a play like this happens, I'm sure a part of is pleased with the result. But, I'm sure an equally large part of you thinks "shit, our quarterback makes terrible decisions which are destined to come back and bite us in the ass."

It's the same situation here. I'm behind Mangini but I'm not just going to applaud Lerner and ignore the fact that the way he went about this whole thing makes me question his ability to competently lead the franchise.

Art Brosef said...

First of all, I dont know what harbinger means.

Second of all, its not the same thing.

In this example you compared throwing a ball into double coverage to the hiring of Mangini. There is a problem, the results are not comparable. In one case the final result is a completion for a score - THE END RESULT OF SAID ACTION. However, we dont KNOW the end result of Mangini yet....that will take 4 years.

In addition:

What are the steps leading up to that throw? The play call, the huddle, reading the defense, audibling, etc. All of these aforementioned activities resulted in a BAD DECISION, in this case throwing into double coverage.

What are the things leading up to the hiring of Mangini? Interviews, consulting, etc. All of these things resulted in a GOOD DECISION (see your own post).

The decision to hire Mangini isnt necessarily a bad decision in the first place, whereas simply throwing into double coverage is.