Browns FO/Coaching: Who Ya Got?

Over the holidays, it has sometimes felt like my wife and I have been in the car more than we’ve been home. As an unintended consequence of that, my writing for WFNY has effectively fallen off the face of the earth over the last 10-14 days.

Coincidentally, the one major Cleveland sports story in that time period has been the house-cleaning in Berea and the prospects of a new regime both in the front office and on the sidelines. I am bummed that I have not weighed in more thoroughly here, but that stops now!

I wanted to make this a quasi-open thread to gauge where our readership is at relative to the names out there for both positions… both the rumors, and perhaps the ones we don’t hear about. More than just the rumors, though:

As a fan, WHO DO YOU WANT?

I’ve broken my answers down into a few categories. Feel free to follow suit in the comments. A couple of caveats: I’ve left Parcells off this list for two reasons: 1. Who knows what he’s going to do, and when he’s going to do it? 2. I’m a bit on the fence, because dude never stays in one place for more than 3-4 years, and I want to build something that can self-sustain for a decade.

1. My Wish-List
This is the pairing I would love to have in a vacuum. In other words, whether it’s likely to happen or not, if this were Madden and you could seemingly always outbid the computer for guys, these are the guys I would hire.

GM: Floyd Reese
Coach: Mike Shanahan

Both guys bring instant credability to the franchise. Both have been perennial winners, and both have built multiple playoff teams in their careers. Look at Tennessee’s team right now, and ask yourself if you would take the players they have on defense over our current roster. Reese built most of that team. Look at Denver’s history on offense. Aside from this year when injuries killed them, they have been a team that can run the ball almost at will, and can win in cold-weather climates almost every year. Plus, neither of them have any connection to anyone previously here, which is one thing I think the team desperately needs: a clean break. Tell me that combination of guys wouldn’t work here!

2. Rumored guys I could live with
These are names we know the Browns have contacted and have or will most likely have interviews with.

GM: Rich McKay
Coach: Steve Spagnuolo, Jim Schwartz

McKay has been involved in the rebuilding of two once-woeful franchises in his career, and let’s face facts: that’s where we are. Spagnuolo has worked with Tom Coughlin, who is a successful coach who instills discipline (minus Plaxico, of course) in his teams through sheer will, and Spagnuolo has built a juggernaut defense that lost its two best pass rushers from a Super Bowl team and still managed to create havoc for opposing offenses. We’ve talked about the Titans’ defense, and Schwartz has been with a solid head coach in Jeff Fisher for years and himself has a pretty solid defensive unit. The Browns offense is much closer talent-wise (if everyone is healthy) than is the defense, and so someone like Spagnuolo or Schwartz could help to close that gap.

3. I will sell my season tickets.
This is the category of guys that are rumored to be in the running, but of which I want little or no part.

GM: Scott Pioli
Coach: (in order of most likely to make me sell my tickets to least likely) Josh McDaniels, Kirk Ferentz, any other college coach except Pete Carroll who isn’t coming to the Browns, Eric Mangini

You might sense a theme here. I’m done doing “Patriots West!” with this team. I’m NOT sold on McDaniels’ credentials at all. Name one coach from the Patriots/Belichick tree that has succeeded anywhere. [checks watch] Got one? Yeah, me neither. My hunch is that Belichick runs that entire franchise, and the rising tide of his abilities raises all boats. Mangini looks almost as listless on the sidelines as did Romeo, Charlie Weiss can’t win at Notre Dame with top recruiting classes and solid QBs, we all know about Romeo. As for McDaniels, I’m not sold on a guy whose calling card includes having Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, a solid o-line and a solid defense. And Bill Belichick. Ditto Pioli. Unless there’s some way to take stock of who makes all of the personnel decisions in New England, color me skeptical of anyone other than Belichick from that franchise.

Further, I don’t understand the infatuation with Kirk Ferentz. I know he and Pioli are buds, and I know he coached for the Browns once upon a time, but seriously… I can’t think of a college coach whose name keeps coming up in rumors every time the Browns have an opening who would be less qualified. Iowa IS NOT THAT GOOD, PEOPLE. Other than Bob Sanders and Dallas Clark, can you name me an Iowa player who’s been a stand-out in the NFL? Steinbach? Aaron Kampman? If anything, he would bring to the table an ability to potentially develop some linemen, given his experience there. But, what else? Why is this guy even being mentioned?

So, there you have it. My list. What say you, folks?

  • Scott

    was your log-in screen dusty?

  • DP

    The fact that I actually *had* to log in should tell you all you need to know.

  • ca040455

    GM: Rich McKay
    Coach: Mike Shanahan
    Shanahan is who we need! We have everything in place for our offence to be elite and could you fathom Shanahan coaching up Quinn? Floyd Reese can stay with ESPN don’t like the guy, and whoever gets our gig I can only Pray we pick up Aaron Curry at LB in April..

  • IRB?

    Nate Kaeding > Nuge. That is all.

  • Nicko

    Isn’t Mike Shanahan the one who brought over our entire defensive line three years back?

    Will he just handle being the coach and not touch anything else. That is a big worry with him and I don’t see him settling for just being the coach. I could be wrong, but….

  • Marco

    Pass on Shanahan.

    One playoff win in the last 10 years, and the magic Denver running game isn’t so magic since their offensive line coach left for Atlanta.

    My wish list?
    GM: Savage
    Coach: Martyball

  • nobody

    While I don’t like Shanahan’s personnel decisions, I do like his coaching style, so he’d be my #1 choice for coach. For GM, I do like Pioli, while Belicheck’s assistant coaches haven’t worked, we don’t know about the people looking at personnel. I’d think he’d be very successful at finding diamonds in the rough, considering Belicheck isn’t doing all that much scouting.

  • JJ

    How about this…

    Prez of football ops: Bill Parcels
    GM: Parcels guy (see GM of phins, sorry i don’t have his name)
    Coach: Parcels guy (see Sporano for example of results…)

    Enough wishful thinking…

    GM: Pioli
    Coach: Spagnola.

    P.S. Anybody know why Lerner is meeting with Mel Tucker today? He’s prolly gettin the axe huh? I doubt he’s a H.C. candidate.

  • JRod

    Nice analysis DP.

    I have gone on record already over at MSF as stating emphatically that I DO want Scott Pioli and DO NOT want Eric Mangini.

    From everything I have heard, it is the Belichick-Pioli partnership that has made the Patriots so great. I agree with you on their assistants, and I would prefer to not to see a former Pats assistant be head coach, but I think Pioli is ready for prime time and can be the man at the top that provides a solid direction for the franchise. I realize Phil Savage was supposed to do this and did not, but look at Pioli’s pedigree and look at all of the outstanding personnel decisions they have made. I guess it’s possible that everything is due to Belichick, but I don’t buy it. On the field? Yes. But not on an organizational level.

    As for coach, I don’t want Mangini, no McDaniels (preferably), and I am philosophically opposed to a college coach. My top choices would be Schwartz, Spags, or Shanahan, and it has nothing to do with me loving the letter “s”. However, that said, it is very likely we would get McDaniels or Ferentz if Pioli is the hire. If that’s the case, I’m okay with it. I find it hard to argue with Pioli’s success in New England and my #1 priority is getting him as GM and trusting him to continue making solid decisions like he has in NE.

    However, I have to say that your combo of Reese and Shanahan would not be bad at all either.

  • Bobby O’Brien

    @ JJ
    If he doesn’t get the ax, Mel Tucker is our Rooney rule guy.

  • DP

    I guess I’m not hating on Pioli so much as I’m afraid of the fact that it sounds like he comes as part of a package deal only: he brings in some NE assistant as a coach.

    I really want Shanahan mainly because he’s the only current candidate that I’ve heard mentioned who has had ANY NFL head coaching success. I mean, yes, Shanahan = 1 playoff win in the last 10 years. Know how many playoff wins the Browns have had in the last 10 years?

  • chab631

    I believe Tucker is interviewing with the Jets as well.

  • Jeremy Coyle

    Why is everyone so down on Ferentz? He’s almost always competetive, he’s tough, and he does with nothing. Could you imagine recruiting at Iowa? “Come to our school, we have corn and wheat, and other stuff.” I actually like Ferentz, but I don’t think he’d leave. But if it were me choosing, I’d get McKay and Shanahan. Denver really started taking a dive once he took over full control. It’s just too much for one guy to do.

  • S-Dub

    GM: McKay
    Coach: Mangini (dude did win just as many games as Romeo in just 3 seasons, took the terrible Jets to the playoffs, and won 9 games with them this year when they weren’t even that good, not to mention Favre probably cost them the playoffs the last 4 games….Kinda like D.A. did to us.)

    -Rex Ryan would be my second choice.

  • Valpo2010

    A name I wanted to look at for coach following the dismissal of Butch Davis was our old nemesis Dan Reeves. Although he isn’t being mentioned by anyone, I wish his name was. Pulling double-duty as an executive and HC in Denver, he built the Broncos into the team we could never beat. Additionally, he helped build the great 1998 Falcons team.

    To the best of my knowledge, he is currently working on building a football program at Georgia State University in Atlanta. I think he would make an outstanding President of football operations similar to what Bill Parcells did in Miami. Let him have control of all football ops and bring in a GM and HC.

  • Josh

    I think McKay is the best pick at GM…proven track record…well respected in the NFL. experience and decent results in 2 different places.

    as for Coach…i guess i’d trust McKay to pick the right guy. Not sold McDaniels, but Mangini would be acceptable.

    I think Schwartz would be great though…has stability with an organization (8 years in same position), learning under a very good head coach…

    we’ve had 2 entire regimes come and go in the time he’s been D-coordinator with ONE TEAM!!!

  • bobby

    My wish list would be Parcells. I know he would be here for 3 years max probably, but he sets up stability. Since i doubt that will happen ill stick to candidates that have been even remotely discussed by the media. I wouldnt mind Pioli, because the guy seems like he knows his stuff, but the fear of him bringing a belicheck descendant scares me. I look at Reese and Mckay and my top two GM candidates, because they both have built quality teams. My top coach is definitely Shanahan. I posted his running numbers on another post. the rumor with him not being so good since the O line coach left if completely false. his only year with under 2000 yards rushing was this past, when they were down to their 7th option.

    heres hopin that Lerner gets the right guy whomever it may be.

  • RandyOSU

    Well put…….enough of the losing proposition of hiring yet another New England/Belichick protogee-they have all proven they cannot function without his coat-tails. As for Mangini-just flat out disturbing after all we’ve been through with the communication/leadership skills of Crennel/Savage. Mangini is described as “stoic” with zero personality-is that what this fan base needs and deserves? Strong, proven leadership is needed to begin to right this ship. If it can’t be Cowher, Shanahan should be a no-brainer; who better to work with Brady Quinn?

    I urge all of you to read this………taken directly from the New York Times (12/29/08). I hope this is reported on this BEFORE it is too late. Why is Randy Lerner doing the interviewing without consultative expertise in this critical transition? (ie Ernie Acorsi, et al). Given Lerner’s past history of hiring the first inexperienced candidate who looks him in the eye, this is scary.

    A Former Coach Is Not Ready for His Close-Up

    Published: December 29, 2008
    Chris Berman: Eric Mangini is standing by in San Diego with the Chargers’ injury report. A big welcome to ESPN, Coach. What about LaDainian Tomlinson’s ankle?

    Eric Mangini: Boom, it’s between his toes and his shin.

    Berman: Understood, but what about the sprain he sustained last week?

    Mangini: It’s not my policy to discuss injuries in the media.

    Berman: But, coach, you are part of the media. So the ankle — which one is it?

    Mangini: The right or the left.

    Berman: You don’t know or you won’t tell us?

    Mangini: One of those, Chris.

    Berman: Are you saying he’s injured or casting doubt on whether he’s hurt at all?

    Mangini: If you want to look at it in a very narrow context, then that could be the context that you analyze it in.

    Berman: Coach, is there anything you can tell us about L. T.?

    Mangini: I tell my kids that sharing is caring and I think I’ve shared enough today.

    If Mangini, who was fired on Monday after three seasons with the Jets, resurfaces in a television studio or a stadium booth, as many former coaches do, it would be astonishing.

    His blandness is legendary, his talent for obfuscation Olympian, his refusal to describe, or admit to, the existence of certain player injuries nearly unparalleled.

    Al Michaels: An amazing touchdown run by Adrian Peterson, eluding four Colts defenders, then stiff-arming Bob Sanders at the 5. Eric, what just happened?

    Mangini: Al, that’s what he does and that’s what he’s supposed to do.

    Michaels: How will the Colts defend Peterson for the rest of the game?

    Mangini: I haven’t set a timetable for discussing that.

    Michaels (murmurs): Do I believe in monotones? Yes!

    Unless an alien, ebullient version of Mangini surfaces in auditions with network producers, he will be looking for a coaching job. Networks prize candor and energy; they easily recall the on-air dullness of George Seifert, the former 49ers coach, in CBS’s N.F.L. studio in 1998. Mangini is even less stirring — and has never won a Super Bowl.

    A scouting report on Mangini from a network producer: “He’s got the looks and a decent smile … needs more experience as a coach to be considered credible … a couple of times, you could see he has a decent sense of humor, but you get a sense he isn’t telling you everything he knows. … With a Ditka, you get a sense of his personality. When you say ‘Mangini,’ you don’t know what his personality truly is. … You have to have a pulse.”

    Successful N.F.L. coaches-turned-analysts like John Madden, Mike Ditka, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher have pulses and gravitas; they trade on their big personalities.

    If Mangini is far from TV-ready, his white-noise mode of speech to the outside world is not a recipe for failure. If he were a white-faced mime and led the Jets to a 13-3 record, he’d still be in his office in Florham Park. But even if Mangini does not fit into the Jets’ future, his Belichickian opacity fits into the reticent colorless rhetorical style of those who fired him: the Jets’ owner, Woody Johnson, and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum.

    You really didn’t know what they were thinking at Monday’s news conference.

    Nine times they praised Mangini for the foundation he helped build (calling it “great,” “good,” “really good” or “successful”) without saying what his contribution was or how that foundation will survive a new coach. They cited his energy, work ethic and loyalty several times but refused to say what got him sacked.

    “I’d just like to concentrate on the positives,” Johnson said, as if his goal were to write a reference letter for someone he had just laid off. “He wanted to learn his craft, he wanted to be a good football coach.” So it was the Mangini on-the-job training program.

    Tannenbaum twice praised Mangini for his 23-25 record, saying it “measured up quite favorably” with that of other coaches in the league. If he meant to extol Mangini’s record against the initial three seasons of other coaches, he was wrong. Sixteen active coaches had better records in comparable periods than Mangini. But it was a nice try.

    No one expected Johnson or Tannenbaum to flame out the way a seething Al Davis did when he fired Lane Kiffin. But Jets fans, who must purchase personal-seat licenses if they want to keep watching their team in person, deserve franker talk about the past and future than what occurred Monday, like: “If you go through the process of looking for a coach, you can’t say I want a red one or a green one,” Johnson said. “Everybody has different skills and they have different personalities and a different array of experiences.”

    Mangini will now take his personality and experiences somewhere else.

    Berman: Coach, glad you’re back with us after your recent appendectomy.

    Mangini: Boom, you know I can’t talk about body parts. That’s a league matter.


    More Articles in Sports » A version of this article appeared in print on December 30, 2008, on page B13 of
    the New York edition.

  • AMC

    It’s looking increasingly likely likely like Mangini will get the job. Kokinis is not a name I had heard before. As director of “pro personnel” for the Ravens, does that mean he was Savage’s successor?

    I think we could do a lot worse than this pairing. Mangini isn’t exactly Mr. Personality as Randy’s article posting certainly reveals, but let’s remember Bill Bellicheck wasn’t either and he’s only going to go down as one of the best coaches ever. Mangini at least has a record of NFL success and probably would still be coaching the Jets if not for the antics of Brett Favre.

    My only concern would be the possibility that Mangini retains Crennel as his DC. While I echo all those who have concluded Crennel is a “good guy” and a “players’ coach,” I think he’s a lousy coach too and don’t want him doing anything even remotely tied to the Browns going forward.

    Sources: Mangini had ‘compelling’ interview

    By Chris Mortensen

    Eric Mangini, fired on Monday by the New York Jets, is emerging as the favorite to become the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns, team and league sources said Saturday.

  • Bridgecrosser

    I would go with McKay / Mangini – but I don’t want Josh McDaniels as off coord. I’d like a crusty old guy w/ no head coaching aspirations for both off and def. coordinator… less in-house politics.

  • Marshall

    Mangini is Romeo part II, only white. No thanks. Lerner is about take a 2 year “re-build” and turn it into a decade long malaise.

    Step 1: Strong team president.
    Step 2: Competent GM chosen by president.
    Step 3: Coach hired by president and GM.
    Step 4: Profit.

    Lerner is about to fail this test in horrific fashion.

  • Jeremy

    Let me get this straight. Lerner wants to hire a director of player personel from Baltimore who worked with Belichek? Hmmm sounds familiar. Then he wants to hire a monotone ex-DC from Belichek? Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we just fire these guys? I guess Lerner likes hearing his name in the press every four years like an election. We are doomed. How can this not be more obvious? HIRE GUYS WHO HAVE THE MOST EXPERIENCE. McKay was mentioned to be the guy to replace Tagliabu, let alone building two franchises from the basement. You think he knows a thing or two about the league? If we all wanted Cowher, then Shanahan should be the next best choice. I hear everyone saying that he has only won 1 playoff game since Elway left. What is your point on that. The guy AVERAGED 10 wins a year. We act like we are a perenial playoff team, and Superbowl contender. Guess what? The only perenial thing we have now is what month will be crying for a new coach? I would take an average of ten wins a year, and a shot at/in the playoffs. Sure beats treating our front office/coach like it is a Presidential term. I like Reece as well. There is not a good reason that anyone can give why they don’t like him, except for maybe he is a loud mouth on ESPN and he tries to get his name in on every opening. Well, if you were a very good plumber working at McDonalds and you knew of some great plumbing contractors looking for guys wouldn’t you want to get your name out there to get a plumbing job? I rest my case. LETS GET THIS RIGHT THIS TIME LERNER, OR YOU ARE LOSING A FAN FOR LIFE!!!

  • Josh

    @ Jeremy…”didn’t we just fire these guys?”

    I couldn’t agree more. unproven GM who the PD reported has LESS authority than Savage had when in Baltimore…ugh

  • Chef

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