Mike Holmgren reportedly made the move this morning, in a meeting with Mangini who has two years left on his contract with the Browns.
Mangini leaves behind a mixed legacy with two 5-win seasons of work that will appear sub-par in the record books. He will also leave some with the negative images of Randy Lerner fumbling a major organizational hand-off.
Eric Mangini was fired from his previous head coaching position with the New York Jets on December 29, 2008. Mangini was then interviewed and subsequently hired by Randy Lerner and the Cleveland Browns on January 7, 2009. This was on the heels of Lerner’s housecleaning sweep of head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Phil Savage.
Eric Mangini made many of his own problems in Cleveland, but he also paid for Randy Lerner’s haste. Mangini could hardly be blamed for getting himself hired less than a month after losing his job in New York. The problem was that his new boss, Randy Lerner, hadn’t figured out a structure for the Browns organization. He hadn’t hired a general manager. He didn’t yet have a team president reigning over the organization as Mike Holmgren does today.
Given that, Eric Mangini was “the man” in Berea and should have just been the head coach.
George Kokinis was hired to be the general manager, but his “partnership” with Eric Mangini never developed. Kokinis never appeared to be making any of the decisions regarding player personnel during the draft or in trades. In the end, Kokinis found himself fired in a whispered-about mess of failure and accusations as Kokinis was allegedly “escorted” from the building in Berea.
There will also be a glass half full view of Eric Mangini’s tenure in Cleveland should the Browns turn things around. Many will point to the out-of-control team culture that existed under previous coach Romeo Crennel. Mangini’s teams were disciplined. They hit in training camp and practiced in the Cleveland elements in fall and winter. Mangini also had the unenviable task of needing to trade away talented players like Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards due to outlandish attitudes and financial demands. As thanks for making tough decisions, Mangini would get a bad rap for not being able to get along with “star” players.
As with anything else, it is probably shades of grey. Mangini came in one way, and leaves a different person. He was clearly influenced in positive ways by his time with Mike Holmgren. It was more than apparent in the improvement in his press conferences on a weekly basis. Mangini still played games with discussing player statuses throughout the week, but not nearly as cryptically or obnoxiously as he did prior to Holmgren’s arrival.
Regardless, Eric Mangini’s tenure in Cleveland is finished. He was given another lease on life at this time a year ago by the incoming Mike Holmgren. Whether it was a fair audition or not is up for debate, but it was more leeway than many in the media and fan base thought Eric Mangini would ever get from Holmgren.
Who knows what’s next for Mangini? If Matt Millen can get a TV job…