- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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We had another interesting "Thought of the Day" post in the AFC North blog. We looked ahead to the offseason and wondered if the Cleveland Browns (5-7) should retain head coach Eric Mangini or make a change in 2011.
Here are some responses from our AFC North inbox:
Zach from Ontario, Ohio, writes: I think Mangini should stay. I know that Mangini does not function things the way Mike Holmgren would, but that cannot be his deciding factor because no one would. If he wants someone who would run the team his way, take the job yourself. Mangini should stay and is doing a good job with the talent they have. I think if they all stay they can have a fantastic front office and a good head coach in place. Could be a new day dawning for us weary Browns fans!
Curtis Hicks from Billerica, Mass., writes: I'm not a Mangini fan. I actually bashed him once in a printed response here on the AFC North blog. I'm absolutely proud of the way the team has played for him and he has possibly earned the right at another season. The biggest problem with Mangini is he inherited the same bug Josh McDaniel's inherited from Bill Belichick, and that's a major issue. With that said, the fundamental difference between Holmgren and Mangini warrants a dismissal after the conclusion of the season.
Andrew from Saint Petersburg, Fla., writes: Keep him. It's clear that he's definitely doing the most with the least talent, and has done a great job with this year's rookie class in developing those players like Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, and Colt McCoy, while at the same time making the most of relatively unknown players like David Bowens, Matt Roth, and Ahtyba Rubin. Give this front office and Mangini another solid offseason to continue building, and we have a true competitor in Cleveland.
Jared from Elyria, Ohio, writes: As a Browns fan, I am torn between whether or not we should keep Mangini. He's laid a great foundation and Cleveland will never be competitive as long as they fire the coach and gut the roster every 2-4 years. On the other hand, I am very worried about the guys running the front office (Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert) believing in very different philosophies than the coach, both offensively and defensively. Remember Savage and Crennel? That was four years without a clear direction or team identity.
Jake from Youngstown, Ohio, writes: Eric Mangini will keep his job, because all he needed to do is pass last seasons record of 5-11. Right now, at 5-7 and the Bills coming up along with Cincinnati, he is in pretty good shape. Look at what he had to work with. A lot of good players except most of them got injured for a while. So with what he had to work with, he did an excellent job. The draft is coming up. So he can fill up some holes and thicken the depth chart. I think he will do great.
Ken Robinson from Fishers, Ind., writes: The Browns appear to be winning in spite of Mangini, not because of him or for him. He has made many questionable decisions and seems more intent on proving his past decisions correct than actually adjusting his approach for the team. Unless he starts learning from his mistakes and is willing to change his approach, the Browns are going to continue to be not quite good enough.
Jon Reiss from Cleveland writes: Mangini has flaws, there is no denying that. However, you can see his growth under Holmgren. Yes, they are different and came into their positions with different philosophies. But it appears Mangini has taken on the role as student quite well. If not for injuries and lack of inherited talent, these Browns might be .500 right now.
Sage Schaff from Cleveland writes: Right now I'm in favor of giving Mangini another year. A lot of analysts have been dead on in saying that the Browns have been competitive this year, but they just don't know how to win yet. The last two weeks have shown me that this team is turning the corner and learning how to finish games. Up until two weeks ago, the Browns consistently led in the fourth quarter but couldn't close it out. While the Carolina and Miami games were still fairly ugly at the end, one thing was different: Cleveland won.
AFC North final say
James Walker: Mangini is doing a better job of coaching this year. But I think Holmgren's decision is yet to be determined, so it's hard to say either way. It will come down to the team's performance in these final four games. The next two weeks are huge. The Browns have to beat the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, who are a combined 4-20. Beating the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are much stiffer challenges. But the philosophical differences are legit, because if the Browns aren't winning enough under Mangini, the people in the front office can always point to what they would do different. If Mangini finishes 8-8, he should be safe. But if he goes 7-9 or less, that would place a difficult decision in Holmgren's hands.