Browns coach defends philosophy
BEREA, Ohio -- Eric Mangini has strict rules for his players. Break them and pay.
Two games into Mangini's coaching tenure with the Cleveland Browns, his team doesn't seem able to do what he wants.
The Browns' offense can't find the end zone with a GPS. Their defense can't tackle and had a second straight second-half collapse. Their starting quarterback, though wildly popular, has been indecisive, inaccurate and unable to complete passes longer than 10 yards.
So bad for so long, the Browns are awful -- still.
They dropped to 0-2 on Sunday with a 27-6 loss to the Denver Broncos, who put the Browns away much the same way the Minnesota Vikings did one week earlier in the opener. Trailing 13-6 entering the fourth quarter, Cleveland couldn't come up with a big offensive play or defensive stop and dropped its eighth consecutive game dating to last season.
"I'm tired of it," linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said in a sparse locker room on Monday. "I'm just frustrated. It's to the point now where it's my fourth year. Something has to be different."
Mangini was supposed to make a difference, but the former New York Jets coach has yet to see his system take hold and produce wins. He already has overhauled a Cleveland roster that likely will undergo many more makeovers before this season ends.
No one expected Mangini, who was fired after three seasons in New York, to transform the Browns into contenders overnight, but Sunday's loss was reminiscent of so many others since Cleveland's 1999 expansion return -- new faces, old results.
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who caught six passes for 92 yards against the Broncos, is at a loss to explain the losses.
"I usually come in and say the same thing -- get back to the drawing board -- which has been the answer for a lot of questions over the last couple of years," he said. "We practice hard. We worked hard and it felt like we were moving in the right direction both weeks, especially last week, so Sunday definitely was a shock to us for the way we practiced.
"It's going to take guys to make up their mind on game day to do what we do during the week and bring that to the field on Sundays."
Mangini said the first thing he pointed out to the Browns during their Monday meeting was that they were in position to get victory No. 1.
"It's about an inherently winnable game or as competitive a game as you're going to see most weeks," he said.
True to form, the Browns found a way to lose it.
Quarterback Brady Quinn had his second straight rough outing. Chosen by Mangini over Derek Anderson to be Cleveland's starter, Quinn went 18 of 31 for 161 yards with one interception. He was sacked four times, but there were plays when he simply held the ball too long.
Many of Quinn's errant throws sailed high over their intended target. He rarely tested Denver's secondary with deep throws, preferring to drop it off underneath coverage.
Despite Quinn's poor showing -- his 66.9 rating ranks him 28th among the league's 32 quarterbacks -- Mangini has no plans to change QBs.
It's not all Quinn's fault, Mangini said.
"It starts with the quarterback, usually that's what everybody looks at and typically they get the lion's share of the credit and the lion's share of the blame," Mangini said. "But as you watch any play, it comes down to everybody doing what they're supposed to be doing in that spot."
In addition to an 0-2 start, Mangini's eight months in Cleveland have been marked by several peculiar incidents.
Not long after taking the job, Mangini had a squabble with Pro Bowl nose tackle Shaun Rogers that was later attributed to a miscommunication. He also drew some negative press for making Cleveland's rookies take a 10-hour bus ride to attend his football camp in Connecticut.
During training camp, where he blared music during practices to sharpen his team's focus and made players run laps when they made a mistake, it was learned that he had threatened to fine players for offenses like failing to park in their assigned spots and other conduct he felt was "detrimental" to the team.
There was also his drawn-out quarterback competition between Quinn and Anderson, which concluded with Mangini keeping the winner a secret until an hour before kickoff of the season opener.
Mangini didn't make many friends in New York, where he was dubbed "Mangenius" after taking the Jets to a playoff bid in his first season.
Last week, former NFL quarterback and CBS analyst Boomer Esiason criticized Mangini's secretive ways.
"Eric Mangini can take the fun out of a 10-year-old's birthday party with Big Bird there," Esiason said. "That's how miserable this guy is becoming."
Yahoo!Sports reported that Mangini recently fined an unidentified Browns player $1,701 for failing to pay for a $3 bottle of water he drank in his hotel room during a preseason road trip.
Mangini did not confirm or deny the bottled-water fine, but said he imposes guidelines for his team to follow "because we have a very diverse group of people, and the rules are set up to make sure we can operate effectively as possible."
"I don't ask anybody to do anything that normal, mature people aren't asked to do," he said. "When we go to hotels, we pay incidentals. We don't park in handicapped spots. We don't park in fire lanes. We don't park in somebody else's spot. I believe people should be mature and approach things in a responsible way. And I believe that people in the organization should have that respect from everybody.
"I'm going to keep believing that, I'm going to keep demanding that we have mature, responsible people as part of the Browns. I make no apologies for that."
Mangini has his standards and rules. So does the NFL, which fined him $25,000 last week for failing to put quarterback Brett Favre on the injury report late last season in New York.
It's not known if he's paid up yet.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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