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Browns’ tumble: No end in sight



Published: Mon, November 9, 2009 @ 12:01 a.m.

BEREA (AP) — Just hours after Cleveland’s fired general manager walked down the front steps in disgrace carrying his belongings in travel bags, two disgruntled fans climbed the same steps inside the team’s headquarters for a meeting with the team’s camera-shy owner.

One of them wore a plastic dog bone hat. He used to go to games dressed as a french fry.

Welcome to the bizarre world of the Browns. Once a flagship NFL franchise, now seen as a farce. The Oakland Raiders of the Midwest.

Halfway through coach Eric Mangini’s first season, the Browns (1-7) are tumbling at an alarming rate. They reached their open week in such disrepair — their offense is ranked 31st, their defense 32nd — it may take years from them to get fixed.

Inept. Overmatched. Laughable. Embarrassing.

All of those words have been used to describe this team, starting quarterback Derek Anderson, Mangini and owner Randy Lerner.

On the field, the Browns are terrible. Off it, they are in turmoil.

Last week, Lerner fired GM George Kokinis, a dismissal that followed the resignation of Erin O’Brien, Mangini’s personal assistant in New York who worked as a team operations director in Cleveland.

Also, former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar has been brought in as a consultant and the team is searching for an experienced executive, “an overarching person” as someone in the organization put it, to run its football department and oversee a new GM.

The Browns seemingly need an intervention. They need help, and the season is only half over.

“We’re just going with the flow,” Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said.

Fired after last season by the New York Jets, Mangini came to Cleveland with a plan to restore the Browns, bring them back to respectability, make them winners again.

He brought in 10 former Jets, overhauled the roster with 25 new players — so far. He traded offensive stars and headaches Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards, benched quarterback Brady Quinn for Anderson just 10 quarters into the season, and may make a switch again.

Nothing has worked.

“It takes time,” Mangini said.

He may be running out of it.

Although Lerner offered his support to Mangini, saying he could not envision any scenario in which he would make a coaching change in 2010, if the next eight games go as poorly as the first eight, he may have little choice but to replace his coach.

Mangini may have reasons to be nervous.

Lerner’s firing of Kokinis seemed to strip the coach of power. Kokinis was Mangini’s hand-picked choice, hired away from Baltimore and reuniting two friends who worked together in the 1990s in Cleveland as underlings to then-coach Bill Belichick.

But from the start, the Kokinis-Mangini management marriage seemed destined for a divorce. The two were rarely seen together and when Kokinis addressed the media before April’s draft, Mangini sat a few feet away on the dais shooting his GM a watch-what-you-say glare.

Kokinis’ stunning and strange ouster came less than 24 hours after Lerner said he wanted to bring in a “strong, credible leader” to oversee the club’s football operations. That would mean filling an executive void the Browns have not addressed since their expansion return in 1999.

Lerner, who has yet to address the media on the firing, had hoped Kokinis would evolve into that person. But did Mangini give his friend the freedom to grow?

Kokinis was all but invisible during his nine months on the job. When the club traded Edwards to the Jets last month, it was Mangini who explained the rational to the media. Kokinis was never heard from, a strong sign he had already lost whatever authority and stature he had been given.

Now, Lerner is looking for his third GM in less than a year — Phil Savage was fired in December — and Mangini believes he will have input into the next hiring.

“Randy and I talk a lot,” Mangini said, “so I’m sure we’ll be very engaged in that [decision].”


Comments

1jrbully(16 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

BROWNS MANAGEMENT= TAKE THE CHUMPS MONEY AND RUN ....TRI STATE DESERVES BETTER THAN WHAT THEIR GETTING

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2jrolley325(800 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

so much for the claim of "most loyal fans in the league" with the impending blackout and all.....

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3paulydel(1308 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

When the Browns went to the draft this past year everyone was saying that the draft picks were A+. i want to know where the fire in their bellies is and the drive to win. There is something definately wrong in Cleveland and I hope the figure it out soon. Cleveland should be right up there with Pittsburgh and Dallas with Super Bowl wins. So come on Cleveland how about it.

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4pit_bull_marley(291 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

This year blows without question. Im not going to waste the type to talk about the sickening state of the team...However, I will focus on what could be the only thing left to watch for as a Browns fan. Forced to start the young linebackers will help the next coach. Forced to let the young receivers play will help the next coach. Forced to leave the damn players in one position will help the next coach. A large draft class will help the next coach.

I didnt hate the draft class. The NEXT coach will have some young players with a year under their belt. So I will cont to watch the team and puke when the game ends.

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