Cleveland coach pushes on
Mangini faces speculation he’ll be fired but says ‘we’re not finished here.’
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.”
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.