The more I dig around into the situation in Cleveland, the more convinced I am that Eric Mangini‘s first season with the Browns will be his last. In fact, at this point, I would be stunned if he came back for 2010. Totally stunned.
Mike Holmgren, the new team president, told the media Monday that he has not made a final decision on Mangini. However, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, Holmgren has done plenty of due diligence since taking the job, and Mangini’s difficulties dealing with players, co-workers, team employees, etc., dating back to his time as coach of the Jets, when coupled with the on-field performance of his teams, make it virtually certain Holmgren will change coaches in the coming weeks.
Holmgren will meet with Mangini next Monday when he comes to Cleveland and then will conduct a press conference with the media. By the following week, look for a wholesale reconstruction of the Browns organization to begin, with sweeping changes being made throughout football operations, coaching, etc. Mangini shares no coaching roots with Holmgren and comes from a tree diametrically different from the West Coast system Holmgren will implement. Unless something changes dramatically, and given the homework already conducted, that’s highly unlikely. It’s more a matter of when than if a new coach arrives.
The next move could be the hiring of a general manager. Randy Mueller, also a candidate in Seattle, is considered by some league sources as a favorite. Former Denver general manager Ted Sundquist could also be in the mix, while up-and-comers such as Green Bay’s John Schneider and Seattle’s Will Lewis are also in the mix.
Also, as I reported first last week, when Jim Zorn and his staff are let go in Washington, look for Zorn and offensive coordinator Sherman Smith to land back with Holmgren after both were long-time members of his staff in Seattle. Zorn would be a strong quarterback coach if nothing else, while Smith played a central role in the Seahawks’ ground game when Shaun Alexander was running wild. Should Holmgren go with a defensive head coach, look for Leslie Frazier, Minnesota’s defensive coordinator, to be a top choice.