Cleve­land coach pushes on

Mangini faces spec­u­la­tion he’ll be fired but says ‘we’re not fin­ished here.’

Dayton Daily News - - SCOREBOARD - By Tom Withers As­so­ci­ated Press

BEREA — Eric Mangini hasn’t given up or given in.

Amid mount­ing spec­u­la­tion that he’ll be fired by team pres­i­dent Mike Holm­gren af­ter a wildly in­con­sis­tent sea­son, Cleve­land’s coach boldly claimed he has the Browns (5-9) headed in the right di­rec­tion de­spite back-to-back em­bar­rass­ing losses to Buf­falo and Cincin­nati.

“We’re not fin­ished here,” Mangini said. “There’s two games left.”

They could very well be his fi­nal two with Cleve­land, but Mangini isn’t con­ced­ing any­thing.

On Mon­day, a more con­fi­dent than de­fi­ant Mangini in­sisted he’s fo­cused solely on cor­rect­ing mis­takes and get­ting his team ready for Sun­day’s home game against Bal­ti­more. Holm­gren plans to wait un­til af­ter the sea­son be­fore eval­u­at­ing Mangini and his staff, which must be on edge af­ter los­ing to the Ben­gals (3-11) and Bills (4-10).

“I feel pretty con­fi­dent in the di­rec­tion this team is head­ing and the di­rec­tion we’re head­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion­ally,” said Mangini, 1020 in two sea­sons with the Browns. “I think it’s ap­par­ent in the type of peo­ple that we brought in, the way that we play. There’s go­ing to be some hiccups along the road in any process like this. There’s grow­ing pains.

“But I’m con­fi­dent in the coaches. I’m con­fi­dent in the things we’ve done. I be­lieve in what we stand for and what we teach, and I think that we’ve got a very bright fu­ture for this team and this or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Mangini said he did not meet with Holm­gren one day af­ter the Ben­gals snapped a 10-game los­ing streak by cram­ming the ball down Cleve­land’s col­lec­tive throats. Cincin­nati rolled up 188 yards rush­ing on a Browns de­fense that was out of po­si­tion and ap­peared worn out.

The Browns ap­peared to have turned a corner af­ter a 1-5 start. They pulled off stun­ning up­sets against New Or­leans and New Eng­land, vic­to­ries some con­sid­ered flukes. But af­ter an over­time loss to the New York Jets, Cleve­land fell at Jack­sonville de­spite forc­ing six turnovers and then only edged a one-win Carolina team when Pan­thers kicker John Kasay missed a last­sec­ond field goal.

Cleve­land bounced back with a win at Mi­ami, but any feel-good vibes or mo­men­tum has been eroded by the hor­ri­ble per­for­mances at Buf­falo and Cincin­nati.

Asked if he thinks the con­sec­u­tive set­backs will cost him his job, Mangini chose to stay pos­i­tive.

“The im­por­tant thing for me and for the play­ers — and I talked about this with the guys — is just fo­cus on the next game,” he said. “That’s re­ally what I be­lieve in. And, I be­lieve that that’s the way that we’re go­ing to be suc­cess­ful, that any in­di­vid­ual is go­ing to be suc­cess­ful and not worry about the other things. That (Holm­gren’s de­ci­sion) will all take care of it­self.”

Press photo by Ed Reinke As­so­ci­ated

Cleve­land head coach Eric Mangini stands on the side­line in the sec­ond half of the Browns’ 19-17 loss against the Cincin­nati Ben­gals on Sun­day.

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