The most popular choice for the gig? Bill Cowher, naturally. He was an assistant coach in Cleveland under Marty Schottenheimer back in the 1980s, and even though he was a head coach for 15 years in Pittsburgh, he won. And for the hapless Browns, winning trumps rivalry. Except that Cowher, for the second consecutive offseason, said he wasn't interested in an NFL coaching job.
So owner Randy Lerner hired Mangini nine days after the Jets canned him. A tad hasty, perhaps, but Mangini gave the organization something Crennel couldn't: structure. Of course, structure didn't do much for the Jets in 2007 when they won four times, or last year when, after an 8-3 start, New York finished 1-4 and went from leading the division to missing the playoffs.
But, hey, Bill Belichick bombed his first head coaching job, too. So for now, three months before the 2009 season, Brown is a fan.
"My early impression is the coach has a plan," Brown said. "The football team will be smart and solid. I see a man that runs the show." ...Brown's talking to you, Kellen and Braylon. Cleveland shipped Winslow to the Bucs prior to the draft, and the scuttlebutt was that Edwards was on the trading block, too. Apparently, there wasn't much of a market for a wide receiver who can't catch.
"I like the order I see," Brown said. "Obviously, it's a contrast. You have one boss. You know who he is. He knows what he's doing. He's emphasizing intelligence and understanding more than just (an individual player's) job. It's what we did with the '64 team. When you understand the concept of team, then you get certain results.
"But when you allow individuality to take over your organization, you're going to have a weak set-up. You can't have one or two guys more influential than the coach."
It's also worth pointing out that Brown currently works for the organization, so he might feel obligated to prop up the new guy. That said, he doesn't strike me as someone who sugarcoats things for political correctness' sake.
Whatever, Mangini, after hearing Brown's laudatory assessment, offered this: "The most important thing to me and to any coach is to show players you can help them be successful and show you can help them become a better player." Mangini continued, "And if that means 10-hour bus rides to work my summer football camp while I fly first class then, well, them's the breaks."*
* Mangini didn't really say that, although he may have been thinking it.