Long time DBN follower. I am a native of NE Ohio, but haven't lived there since '03. I'm in the military, and was stationed overseas from '04 until June of this year. It's not easy following your favorite NFL team outside the U.S., particularly when your team is not a perennial winner or big market team. Thank god, I discovered DBN in late 2007 and have been a devoted reader ever since...this has been a welcome oasis from the Browns flotsam that manages to come out of the mainstream sports network sewers. I would just like to say that I appreciate so much all of you Browns fans, from Chris, Rufio, Emily, SB, BB, to the ever-eccentric Mooncamping--even Bross, who has slowly grown on me. I won't waste any more space trying to name everyone, but suffice it to say, if you are a regular poster on here, I am familiar with your (online) persona and appreciate your perspective and input. That said...
I am perplexed by the strengthening anti-Mangini camp I see reflected in the postings here. (This may be a mis-perception on my part, so apologies if I am incorrect.) As someone who primarily knows the post-99 Browns, I see a team now who is more competitive and competent, week-to-week, than any I have ever seen. I still have very vivid images of the 2008 Cleveland Browns [shudder]...not to mince words, they did not belong on an NFL field. I was honestly embarrassed to admit I was a fan! (I still admitted it, don't get me wrong, but I don't normally care if my team is considered "trendy" or "a winner" or "not a total clusterf*&k") That team was an abomination before god and man, and yet, over the past 2 years, the ship has slowly turned around. Not just a slight course adjustment, either. You can say whatever you want about Mangini...he's not "friendly", or he doesn't wow the media (as if that's something to value in a coach--my gosh, that is so important to winning football games!), he doesn't announce his starting QB (because he's had such a reliable #1 option there); the man has done a complete 180 with the football culture in the Browns locker room. I can honestly say that I don't cringe when I watch football games; I know that, even when my team makes mistakes, they will generally look like they belong on the field with their opponent. Yes, even with Mr. Delhomme under center. Because I know you were going to bring it up.
Now, before you confuse me with Mr. Mangini's sockpuppet, let me clarify: I do NOT think he is the greatest football mind ever to coach the Browns. He's not infallible, and he has definitely made mistakes. HOWEVER, I have seen nothing from him to indicate he is anything other than a bright, young football coach with lots of upside, though lots to learn. Why there seems to have been a Cleveland media lynch mob desperate to run him out of town since day 1, I'll never understand. I get that "controversy sells", but, assuming you are genuinely a fan, at some point, you have to root for your city's team to win. Honestly, what do they think we are missing out on by being patient another year?! Coming into this year, I don't think anyone REALLY expected us to make the playoffs...not with Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and (lest we forget) a Bengals team which WON THE DIVISION last year. Yet, because we had some wonderful and highly-improbable wins against top-notch NFL teams, suddenly it's a travesty we aren't preparing for a deep postseason run. (?!) We lost to a Buffalo team with similar talent (away), by a few points; we lost to a division team, with much better talent, the Bengals (away), by a few points. We were COMPETITIVE, and (this cannot be emphasized enough) despite a roster devoid of standout talent and depleted by injuries. The very fact that we could speculate about making the playoffs that late in the season is a testament to the coaching staff--to hold them over the fire because they didn't make them is extremely unfair. We have made martyrs of them, based on their own success! Only in Cleveland...what's the name of that coach we used to have? Belli--someone?
Well, this post is getting a bit long in the tooth, so I should wrap it up. Summarized: 1.) Thank you to all of you DBN writers/contributors/editors/mods, you have given me detailed, heartfelt Browns coverage I couldn't put a price on; 2.) Mangini deserves some patience, because, if nothing else, what do we have to lose (oh my gosh, a losing season? How would the Browns faithful ever cope?!), and what do we have to gain (potentially some stability, and a "system", like a good NFL organization). Remember where we were two years ago, and what was asked of Eric Mangini (rebuild this organization from the rubble of Romeo Crennel/Phil Savage/et al.); 3.) Go Browns, beat Pittsburgh!
4.) It's 4:29 PST, 27 DEC 10, and Braylon Edwards still sucks.