Eric Mangini should feel pleased about getting out of New York.
It’s no secret New York is a tough city that prides itself on gritty teams that are always in the playoff picture. Anything short of that is deemed a failure.
On December 29 Mangini was fired by the New York Jets after the team failed to make the playoffs.
Mangini was with the team for three seasons, having winning records in two of those while making the playoffs once.
He would not be out of a job long though as he agreed to a four-year deal to coach the mediocre Cleveland Browns.
It’s hard to not look at the 2008 season for the New York Jets and not conclude it was a miserable one.
Granted everything looked well through the first 11 games. The squad was 8-3, holding on to first place in the AFC East and primed for a playoff run.
Then it all fell apart. Brett Favre looked like an old man and forced throws, the defense lost focus and the squad last four of the last five games to finish 9-7 and out of the playoffs.
To add insult to injury, the very quarterback they let go to make room for Favre in Chad Pennington orchestrated the greatest turnaround in NFL history. Pennington led the Miami Dolphins to an 11-5 mark and an improbable playoff berth after the squad went just 1-15 in 2007.
For me, considering the Jets had a paltry 4-12 record the year before, Mangini did well in re-establishing the Jets as a competitive side again.
Granted he has had an iffy tenure with the Jets, taking the squad from 10-6 before seeing them drop to 4-12 (with essentially no quarterback) and this year to 9-7.
But I liked what Mangini did with the Jets. He brought an attitude with him that mirrored New York. He was tough, demanded excellence and showed great fortitude. For the most part that rubbed off on his players.
It seems injuries were the biggest reason they struggled in 2007. Otherwise I feel the team had the toughness and drive to nab at least eight wins.
For me the 2008 New York showed Favre is old and not the talent he once was and made a scapegoat out of a good coach.
All of which leads me to feel that Mangini will be a good fit with the Cleveland Browns in the future.
For one he has plenty of talent at his disposal. Braylon Edwards is an elite receiver, Derek Anderson is a quarterback that has the skills to be great and Joe Thomas has a bright future in the league.
He will also have the advantage of going to work for a franchise with a similar situation as the Jets.
The Browns were in the playoff picture last year at 10-6 behind a very effective offense. This year, due mostly to injuries at quarterback and other key positions, the squad dropped to a disappointing 4-12.
Mangini will make the Browns a perennial threat but I’m confident he can muster a couple of playoff berths, maybe even as early as next year (barring injury to key pieces like Kellen Winslow or Brady Quinn).
He will bring the sort of persona the Browns need. Look at the difference in coaching styles between Mangini and his predecessor Romeo Crennel. Crennel was a soft-spoken man who tried to keep cool under duress.
That sort of attitude worked well in keeping in the good graces of management and the media but it did little for the players.
Under Crennel I saw a Browns team that could play but lacked the fire seen in say the Steelers or the Patriots.
Meanwhile Mangini is more of a fiery figure by getting in players’ faces, ruling his staff with an iron fist and being unafraid to speak his mind.
Cleveland need a figure to whip them into shape. The Browns need to see they have all the talent to play with perennial AFC powers like the Colts and are merely lacking the passion to stick with them.
Sure if the Browns had nabbed Bill Cowher the same thing could have been done. But it is unlikely Cowher would ever yell his lungs out with the team that has forever despised his Pittsburgh Steelers.
In the end the Browns and the Jets are two teams trying to get back to their former glory.
Eric Mangini might have had a short time to turn it around in New York but hopefully he can work his magic for a while in Cleveland.