Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Monday, September 27, 2010

Calls for Mangini's head should be muted

Football is about wins. With the Browns’ third straight loss to start the season, I expect the calls for the firing of head coach Eric Mangini to grow louder and fiercer.

The Browns opened the season with losses to two teams that had worse 2009 seasons than the Browns did. Halftime leads evaporated and in each game a huge interception cost the Browns.

Browns fall 24-17 to Baltimore

This loss – although just as painful – was a bit different.

Before the game started, I expected the Browns to be shut out. The Browns talent at the skill positions is thin to begin with and they were without their starting quarterback, starting running back and someone who is supposed to be a key receiver. Add to that, the Browns most explosive talent Josh Cribbs entered the game banged up.

Just what you want when you enter the home field of one of the best defenses in football – a Ravens defense that held the Jets and Bengals without a touchdown.

It had all the makings of an ugly blowout.

Mangini and his offensive coordinator Brian Daboll take a lot of heat. But it is difficult to grill a perfect steak if all you have is bologna.

So Mangini had his team man up and take it right to the Ravens. Peyton Hillis and his personal body guard Lawrence Vickers powered straight into the heart of an angry defense. Nothing fancy but just old time get dirty football, 22 times Hillis ran forward for 144 yards. What made it more impressive is that the Ravens knew the Browns were one-dimensional. The only other players they had to worry about were Ben Watson and Josh Cribbs.

Side note No. 1: Someone alert Dairymens they need to run an ad for Mohamed Massaquoi.

Side Note No. 2: Can you believe the Browns got Hillis and draft picks for Brady Quinn? I wonder if Denver head coach Josh McDaniels has filed a police report yet.

Hate Daboll’s play calling all you want – trust me the throwing long down the sideline on third and short baffles me – but there aren’t many options available. For those who want more razzle-dazzle or Wildcat – the Browns can’t afford to make mistakes.

Playing conservative is their best option.

For the Browns to beat the Ravens or any other team – they have no choice but to play a perfect game. Seneca Wallace played well but there is a reason he has never been a starting quarterback in the NFL. He struggles at the throwing the long ball down the sideline. Add in he only had three weapons to use; the margin for error is paper-thin. One mistake on a handoff and the Browns opportunity for an upset was over.

As for the defense, Rob Ryan is also getting the most out of his players. He had no one who could cover Anquan Boldin. With no true playmakers at linebackers, Ryan was forced send big numbers on blitzes and he got burned. What other choice did he have? Eric Wright may wear 21 but he is not Deion Sanders.

The media has documented Eric Mangini's shortcomings quite well. He has been a punching bag his entire tenure as the Browns head coach. As the losses pile up, his critics vehemently call for his head.

I think firing Mangini during the season would be a mistake. I say that even though I expect the losses to continue to mount up. Yes the NFL is about winning football games but I think it is a mistake to fire a coach that hasn’t lost his team.

The Browns are bad football team because they don’t have much talent. They don’t have many playmakers. Mangini and his staff, in my opinion, are getting the most they can out of the talent they have.

The Browns play hard but they don’t have enough to finish games. Canning Mangini isn’t going to change that.

Mangini hasn’t done himself many favors. His cloak-and-dagger coaching style grates on some. His player personne decisions last season were questionable. But I think the man can coach.

Even as the Browns enter into the most difficult part of the schedule, I think they are going to get better. It may not translate into wins but a foundation is being set.

I believe Mike Holmgren believes this as well. It is why I don’t expect him to panic and fire Mangini.

It is up to Holmgren and Tom Heckert’s to stock the cupboard and until that happens not even Paul Brown or Bill Parcells could win with this team.