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Thursday, January 7, 2010
Can Holmgren-Mangini marriage work?

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Eric Mangini/Mike Holmgren
Mike Holmgren's decision to retain Eric Mangini as the Browns' coach could define the beginning of the "Holmgren era" in Cleveland.
When it comes to football, Eric Mangini is from Mars and Mike Holmgren is from Venus.

They believe in different offensive systems. They believe in different defensive systems. Their personalities are stark contrasts: Holmgren is an open book and a straight-shooter, while Mangini believes in secrecy.

So how will these two planets align while working in the same building with the Cleveland Browns? We're about to find out.

After a series of meetings, Holmgren, the Browns' new president, opted Thursday to retain Mangini for a second season. Mangini led the Browns to a 5-11 record but finished on a four-game winning streak, and the "Big Show" was convinced he deserved another opportunity.

"I'm happy to announce that Eric Mangini will return as head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2010," Holmgren said in a statement. "Over the past few weeks Eric and I have had a chance to talk on a number of occasions including our meetings over the last two days. I was able to gain some tremendous insight into his thought process and philosophies, and came away from our meetings very impressed."

This is Holmgren's first major decision as the football "czar" in Cleveland, and one that will be remembered for better or for worse.

If things work out, Holmgren will be celebrated for making a gutsy call to retain a coach he was unfamiliar with. But if it doesn't work and the Browns have another losing season, the beginning of the "Holmgren era" in Cleveland will be tainted.

But the work starts today for Holmgren and Mangini. Both will play key roles in their goal of turning the Browns into a winner.

Whether this pairing can work next season should be one of the NFL's most interesting storylines in 2010.