The Cleveland Browns have made their call. Eric Mangini is in, and Scott Pioli is out.
After courting Pioli to be his general manager last week, Browns owner Randy Lerner made the decision to hand off his franchise and its future to Mangini, who recently was fired as coach by the New York Jets. With the hiring, Lerner has made it clear that Mangini is the man to lead the Browns into the future, and the new GM, whoever it is, will complement him. But Mangini is the front man.
One of the reasons that Lerner was drawn to Mangini was his NFL head-coaching experience. Cleveland’s recent hires — Chris Palmer, Butch Davis and Romeo Crennel — didn’t have any NFL head-coaching experience before they took over and failed with the Browns.
Mangini already has succeeded as an NFL head coach, and now Cleveland hopes it has found another Bill Belichick, the coach the Browns once fired. But they took a gamble, banking that their franchise will be better directed by Mangini than Pioli, who has enjoyed great success as the New England Patriots’ vice president of player personnel. Seasons to come will be the judge.