When Mike Holmgren Earns His Pay

What should the Browns do with Eric Mangini?  With two games left in another mediocre regular season, the question lingers.

The Browns look to be heading toward their second straight 5-11 season.  Last year, they closed with a rush, winning their last four games.  This year, they have played many close games and won against two of the best teams in the NFL.  Unfortunately, however, they have lost a lot of winnable games, and they will miss the playoffs — again.  Mangini seems to have brought some order out of chaos and has made some progress, but the Browns still have not gotten over the hump.  Can they do so with Mangini at the helm?

That is the question Mike Holmgren has to answer.  It is a tough question.  5-11 records are not acceptable, obviously, and the team’s lackluster performance in the last two games is not encouraging.  On the other hand, constant coaching changes are not a good thing, either.  For decades, the Browns had one of the most respected front offices in the NFL, marked by competence and stability, with virtually no coaching turnover. Since the Browns have come back into the league, however, the team has been a coaching carousel and experienced constant front office change.  It has not turned out well for the franchise. I’m confident that Holmgren recognizes that.

I’m inclined to withhold judgment on Mangini, for now.  He has tried to establish an approach and a system and has made some progress — slow progress, to be sure, but progress nevertheless.  I’d like to see whether the Browns play with some spirit in one of the last two games, when they will be competing against two of the best teams in the AFC, at a time when both Pittsburgh and Baltimore are gunning for playoff position.  If the Mangini can lead the Browns to a victory in one of those two games, I think it would say something about his ability to coach, inspire, and lead.