Maybe Browns owner Randy Lerner was a tad premature to hire Eric Mangini 15 minutes after giving Romeo Crennel the boot. That seemed to be the consensus at the time and the sentiment was reinforced after watching Mangini lead the Browns to three losses, none of which were close.
No idea if he is on the hot seat, and that's not even the point. The bigger issue: where do the Browns go from here? Brady Quinn, the guy who was supposed to save this franchise from itself, looks like he took up football last month. And Derek Anderson aspires to look that bad. Maybe that's overstating it -- the defense certainly hasn't helped -- but a year ago we were busy lamenting the awfulness of Braylon Edwards' hands. It was a simpler time. And I can't believe I'm about to type this, but the Tim Couch-Kelly Holcomb one-two punch seem like the good ol' days.
But it gets worse ... because it's Cleveland: in addition to beginning the season 0-3, Mangini has cast himself as a villain in his own locker room. There used to be a time when "player's coach" was pejorative. Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, and later Mike Ditka and Bill Parcells were all hard-asses who also had Super Bowl rings. In recent years, however, there's been a shift in philosophy. It's now okay to try to relate to players, to use something other than verbal intimidation to get the desired on-field results. Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin are obvious examples, and both have won Super Bowls. But the influx of young or first-time head coaches has also played a part. Jim Harbaugh, Mike Smith and Rex Ryan fall into that category. And even though Mangini is only 38 years old, he remains unyielding in his ideological approach to winning, and as a result he's coaching himself right out of the league.
Which would suit the guys currently playing for Mangini just fine. In June, he put the Browns' rookies on a bus from Cleveland to Hartford, CT to work a football camp while he opted for the opulence of air travel. Something about the 90-minute flight appealed to him in a way a 10-hour bus ride couldn't.
$1,700 for taking a $3 bottle of water from the hotel minibar and not paying for it. To send the message, no doubt, that insolence will not be tolerated. There's more, via ESPN's Adam Schefter, who had the second-best tweet on Sunday (after this): "Browns players have filed 2 grievances against HC Eric Mangini and 3 more being processed this week -- team has more grievances than W's."
The Newark Star-Ledger's Dave Hutchinson wrote these words in the aftermath of Busgate, but they are truer now than ever: "Being hired so soon after being canned by the Jets may turn out to be the worst thing to happen to Mangini because he didn't get the chance to reflect on his experience as a first-time head coach. Instead, he's instituting many of the same bullish policies he had with the Jets, many of which rubbed players the wrong way."
Yes he has. And now that the Lions have a win, Mangini has transformed the Browns into the league's biggest laughingstock in record time. He wrestled that title away from Rod Marinelli like it was the last honeybun at the breakfast bar.
Good thing Lerner was in such a rush to hire somebody. God forbid he wait around for Scott Pioli. Or anybody but Mangini, actually. Jim Brown should issue a public apology first thing Monday morning.
The Ravens were the last team to throttle the Browns, manhandling them 34-3. With all the early season talk about the Favre-tastic Vikings, and the magic that is Mark Sanchez and the Jets, Baltimore has gone unnoticed for the most part. But they have one of the NFL's best defenses, and Cam Cameron has taken the training wheels off the offense.
Second-year quarterback Joe Flacco looks like a grizzled veteran and Willis McGahee is playing like he's afraid of getting cut. Of course, Derek Anderson and Jamal Lewis could have said the same thing in 2007 (Anderson made the Super Pro Bowl, Lewis rushed for 1,304 yards, and the Browns won 10 games), but the '09 Ravens are different.
The Ray Lewis All-Stars will always be there to bail out the offense should it stumble. And unlike Anderson, Flacco is by all accounts, a smarter, more mobile, more consistent player. And three weeks into this thing, the Ravens have a two-game lead in the division over the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's huge.
Leftovers from Sunday's action...
... Jim Zorn, here's your silver lining: it could be worse, you could be Eric Mangini. That said, you'll both be looking for work soon. It's hard to fathom how the Redskins' offense could be more inept, or how Danny Snyder could get less out of his high-priced investments, but there are 14 weeks to go in the season. A lot can happen.
... I have no idea why God hates the Texans, but he's making an example out of that franchise. First, there was David Carr, then the whole Rosenchoppa fiasco, and Sunday, Chris Brown fumbled a few millimeters short of the end zone late in the game, ensuring the Jags their first victory of the year.
... I lost count of the number of times Troy Aikman said, "I have no idea where Tom Brady was going with that pass," but the Patriots won and that's all that matters. Brady still looked shaky, but better than he did the first two weeks, and more than that, New England is 2-1. Having a running game always helps (Fred Taylor rushed for 105 yards), but the balanced attack could be short-lived: the Ravens come to Foxboro next week.
... Two years ago there was a lot of bellyaching about Bill Belichick and the Patriots running up the score. They hung 48 on the Cowboys, 49 on the Dolphins, and 56 on the Bills during the regular season, usually showing no let-up in the fourth quarter. You know what's more disrespectful than continuing to throw touchdown passes when the game has long been decided? Bringing in David Carr with more than six minutes to go and a 24-0 lead, that's what. The Giants did it Sunday and all the Buccaneers could do was take it. It must have been a very humbling experience.
... Sometimes atheists will say things like, "If there's a God, how could He stand by while Tim Tebow is concussed?" I'll take it one further: How can He stand by while Brett Favre throws a game-winning touchdown? Doesn't this man deserve to feel the Lord's wrath for fake-retiring every spring? It does make you question your faith, especially when the Texans haven't caught one break in their eight-year existence.
... Terrell Owens usually plays nice during his first year in a new city, but I'll give it one more no-catch game before he goes half-naked-sit-ups-in-the-driveway on us. With T.O. it's always a matter of time, but if he has a mediocre season in Buffalo, there's a chance his NFL career could be over. I'm sure somebody will throw a close-to-vet-minimum salary at him in the offseason, but I don't see Owens going for it. Upshot: he'll get a head start on that acting career.
... Too bad NFL games aren't 45 minutes. The Steelers would be 3-0, and fans would be spared the misery of watching Limas Sweed try to catch a football. There is good news, though: Pittsburgh is the best 1-2 team in the league AND the offensive line looks fantastic. Too bad Jeff Reed and Santonio Holmes -- two of the team's most important players last year -- suddenly look drunk and high.
... Despite the Steelers' troubles, at least they're not the Titans. Myron Cope's a mean drunk, LenDale.
... The two best quarterbacks heading into the 2007 draft are now two of the worst quarterbacks in professional football. Brady Quinn was benched for Derek Anderson Sunday, but JaMarcus Russell has no such fears. Not because he's dreadful, but because the Raiders allegedly cut Jeff Garcia because they didn't want him to push Russell for playing time. After completing just 19 of 54 passes to start the year, J-Bomb was 12 for 21 (for 61 yards!) against the Broncos yesterday. Brilliant.
... One more Browns fun fact: they haven't scored an offensive touchdown in eight quarters.
This Week in Fake Tweets
More fake-tweeting ridiculousness here.
Week 3's Pretty Picture
In retrospect, maybe hanging out with Tom Cruise before the game wasn't such a swell idea. (More pretty pictures here.)