A question: When you're heading into a season in which your choices at quarterback are Brady Quinn(notes) or Derek Anderson(notes), your running back is Jamal Lewis(notes), your best receiver is traded in Week 4, and your defense is regarded as almost completely devoid of talent, what is your record expected to be?
I'd put the ceiling for that team at about 5-11.
As it happens, that's the exact record the Browns finished with. Over the last five weeks of the season, they gave the Chargers a battle, and went on to beat the Steelers, Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars. They improved as the season went on, and at the end, when other teams were packing it in, the Browns showed a hell of a lot of character.
The team's in better shape now than it was when the season started. Jerome Harrison(notes) looks like the running back of the future. Young guys like Eric Wright(notes), Kaluka Maiava(notes) and Kamerion Wimbley(notes) are contributing on defense. Josh Cribbs has turned into one of the league's most dangerous players. Mohamed Massaquoi(notes) has shown signs that if there's ever a capable quarterback around, he could be a fine receiver.
To me, these are all reasons to keep moving in the same direction, not change again to a completely different direction. There's more value in stability than there would be in a new coach. Personally, I don't believe there's a coach alive who would do better than 5-11 with Quinn and Anderson at quarterback.
Everyone keeps saying that Mangini's as good as gone because Cleveland's new football czar, Mike Holmgren, has a completely different football philosophy. I say the onus should be on Holmgren to adjust. Mangini's made progress here. Why throw it away?
I know Browns fans didn't want to go 5-11 this year, but that's life. That's what their talent dictated they could do. Unlike most of the bad teams in the league, the Browns can honestly say that they got better as the year went on. They stayed together, they didn't quit, and they grew as a team.
Mike Holmgren should think long and hard before he just throws that away.