Defense key for Mangini

January, 9, 2009
1/09/09
2:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

One of the biggest downfalls of the Romeo Crennel era was that the Cleveland Browns failed to run an efficient 3-4 defense.

 
  AP Photo/Tony Dejak
  Eric Mangini hopes to get the Cleveland Browns back in the postseason.

Will new head coach Eric Mangini's 3-4 scheme be any better?

This is one of the key questions that will determine the eventual success of Mangini's tenure in Cleveland. Mangini, like Crennel, comes to the Browns with a defensive background and will undoubtedly have his imprint on it as head coach.

Both coaches had success as defensive coordinators of the New England Patriots. Mangini was a secondary coach under Crennel in New England and eventually became the defensive coordinator for one season, before becoming head coach of the New York Jets for three seasons.

But neither Mangini's nor Crennel's defenses have been impressive since leaving the Patriots. Crennel's highest defensive ranking in Cleveland was No. 16 in 2005. Mangini's best defensive year with the Jets also was No. 16 in 2008.

Defense will be key in the AFC North. It's no secret that the two division teams still playing deep in the playoffs -- the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens -- are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in total defense this year, respectively.

Battle of the 3-4 Defenses
Can the pupil (Mangini) bring a better defense to Cleveland than the teacher (Crennel)?
Season Mangini (Jets) Crennel (Browns)
2008 No. 16 No. 26
2007 No. 18 No. 30
2006 No. 20 No. 27
2005 N/A No. 16

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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