Browns to hire Mangini by end of week? (via ESPN’s John Clayton) says that Eric Mangini could be hired by the Browns as early as this week.

ESPN’s John Clayton believes that the Browns could hold a presser by as early as Thursday to announce their new head coach.
Eric Mangini is already trying to poach the Jets’ coaching staff for assistants, so it’s clear that a deal is imminent. Mangini’s top choice to run the offense is Bill Callahan. He may target Romeo Crennel to call the defense.

Depending on who becomes their next GM, this is a good move. There’s no doubt Mangini learned a few things in New York – namely what happens when other teams figure out how to scheme against him. And despite popular opinion, the Browns aren’t a total mess. They have a young quarterback that has showed potential, a solid offensive line and a couple of defensive players in Shaun Rogers, Sean Jones and Eric Wright to build around. They just need a coach that will demonstrate leadership and that will instill direction.

Mangini should be instrumental in turning around the defense, although the same thing was said when Romeo Crennel was hired. Still, this is a sound move because he’s a good football coach and he’s one of the more creative young minds in the NFL.

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Eric Mangini impresses Browns

Eric Mangini has now become the front-runner in the Cleveland Browns’ search for a new head coach.

The Browns have continued their search process, interviewing other candidates, but sources say Mangini had a “compelling” interview and owner Randy Lerner is fascinated with him.

If Mangini gets the job to replace the fired Romeo Crennel, the sources said the favorite to become the team’s general manager would be George Kokinis, who is the director of pro personnel for the Baltimore Ravens.

Kokinis and Mangini each were members of the Browns organization when Bill Belichick was coach. Mangini formally joined the staff as an assistant coach in 1995. Kokinis was a scout from 1991 to 1995 before moving with the team to Baltimore.

Scott Pioli, the Patriots’ executive vice president of player personnel, has been considered the favorite for the GM job, but sources say his demands were “extreme,” and Lerner is hesitant to accept the terms unless there is some level of compromise.

Getting Pioli would be ideal, but I’m always in favor of teams reaching out to front office personal of winning teams, and Kokinis has been a part of a winner in Baltimore. If Mangini and Kokinis have worked together in the past, then that’s obviously a huge plus because you limit the possibility of the two men clashing on personnel decisions.

I don’t think any Cleveland fan should be down on Mangini. He’s a bright young mind and he no doubt learned a few things while working in the Jets’ organization the past three years.

Crennel out, Cohwer tells Browns he’s not interested

The Cleveland Browns fired one coach and were told to buzz off by the one they wanted to hire. The Browns officially fired Romeo Crennel on Monday, but were told by hopeful candidate Bill Cowher that he wasn’t interested in the position.

Romeo CrennelLerner met with the media this morning to announce that Romeo Crennel has been fired as head coach.

Speculation for his replacement had been centered on Cowher for several weeks, but Lerner said Monday that he met with Cowher on Saturday night and that Cowher said he would not return to coaching in 2009 and asked Lerner to take him off the Browns list of candidates.

Cowher told Lerner that he was comfortable with his lifestyle in North Carolina at this time.

Lerner said he’s already asked for permission to talk to New England Patriots Executive Vice President Scott Pioli and that he’ll focus on the general manager role next.

Lerner also said he’s receiving permission to talk to another unnamed NFL exec. He appeared interested when informed that Eric Mangini had been fired by the New York Jets this morning. Mangini, a former Browns employee, worked with Pioli in New England.

Crennel, 61, was fired after going 24-40 in his four seasons at Browns head coach. He had three years left on his contract, which had been extended in January after he guided the Browns to a 10-6 record and just missed the playoffs.

I’m always a little leery when teams fire their head coach and immediately start looking at other coaches that were fired in the same year. Maybe Mangini would be a nice fit in Cleveland, but I think at this point the Browns need a candidate with a little more experience. I still don’t think Marty Schottenheimer would be a bad hire, although they would need to groom another coach under him because he wouldn’t be a long-term solution.

But before hiring a coach, they need to go out and get a solid GM. Then have that GM hire the head coach so that they know everyone can work together. It doesn’t make sense to hire a head coach and then a general manager if they’re going to butt heads all the time about personnel decisions.

Browns could fire Savage, Crennel by Monday

After getting trounced 31-0 by the Steelers on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns may fire general manager Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel as soon as Monday.

Romeo CrennelThe Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that while Crennel likely will be fired, he could be asked to stay on with the team in another capacity.

After a surprising 2007 campaign in which they won 10 games, the Browns have been a major disappointment this season and enter Sunday’s season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 4-11 record.

Crennel, who was rewarded with a two-year contract extension through 2011 last January, has compiled just a 24-39 record in three-plus seasons. One major negative for Crennel has been an 0-7 record against the rival Steelers.

Despite Crennel’s woeful record, the Plain Dealer reported that over the last two months the Browns have received plenty of positive feedback about Crennel within the organization, leading to speculation that he may return in another role.

One scenario that has Crennel returning is if the Browns hire Patriots executive vice president Scott Pioli as the club’s new general manager. Crennel previously worked with Pioli while he was defensive coordinator of the Patriots.

The newspaper reported that Savage likely will be fired as GM or asked to relinquish his final say on the 53-man roster. If asked to give up authority on the roster, he could resign, according to the report.

Savage, in his fourth season as GM, signed a three-year contract extension through 2012 following last season.

Savage is done because the Browns want to go after Bill Cowher and they don’t want to have any lingering questions about whether or not Cowher would have the opportunity to have full control. But the Crennel situation could get interesting over the offseason. While it’s great that he’s created a positive situation in Cleveland, sometimes it’s better just to cut ties and start fresh.

2008 Year-End Sports Review: What We Think Might Happen

It’s time to look ahead to 2009 and play a little Nostradamus.

Last year, we predicted that God would anoint the “Devil-free” Rays World Series Champions (ding!), that Brett Favre would play another year or two (ding! – sort of), that Isiah Thomas would be canned (ding!), and that Kobe would be playing for a new team by the trade deadline…

Granted, that last one didn’t come true, but how were we supposed to know that the Grizzlies would trade Pau Gasol to the Lakers for an unproven rookie and a bag of peanuts? Our occasional inaccuracy isn’t going to keep us from rolling out another set of predictions – some serious and some farcical – for 2009 and beyond, including President Obama’s plan for a college football playoff, Donovan McNabb’s new home and the baseball club most likely to be 2009’s version of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Read on, and in a year, we guarantee* you’ll be amazed.

*This is not an actual guarantee, mind you.

Don’t miss the other two parts of our 2008 Year-End Sports Review: “What We Learned” and “What We Already Knew.”

Michael Vick will play for the Oakland Raiders next season.

Once NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell allows suspended quarterback Michael Vick to re-enter the league, let’s be honest, there’s really only one team that will take a shot on the convict: the Oakland Raiders. Sure, the Raiders would have to possibly give up a draft pick because Vick will still technically be property of the Falcons, but with Matt Ryan on board, Atlanta would probably be willing to give Mikey up for a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos…snack size. With Vick on board, JaMarcus Russell could shift to tight end or full back or offensive tackle or something. Or, Vick could play wide receiver! Or running back! Think of the possibilities! The Oakland Raiders will be the most unstoppable team in the league! That is, of course, until Vick gets the itch for his old hobby. – Anthony Stalter

The Nationals and Pirates become the official AAAA teams of their respective divisions.

After finishing at or near the bottom of the division since the franchise’s move from Montreal, Major League Baseball executives analyze the entire Washington Nationals player system and conclude that they have no chance of fielding a competitive team in the near future. In the boldest decision of his tenure, Commissioner Bud Selig demotes the team’s Major League roster to AAAA status, a phrase long used by baseball personnel to describe players that are too good for the minors but not good enough for the majors. In an added twist, Selig designates that the team’s assets are fair game for all four remaining teams in the National League East, as a means of creating parity. In order to keep the number of teams even in each league, Selig also downgrades the Pittsburgh Pirates, losers of 94 or more games since 2005, to AAAA status as well. It will be six weeks into the regular season before an NL East team claims any of these former Pirates or Nationals. – David Medsker

Barack Obama will have a plan in place for a college football playoff by 2016.

He has already spoken out twice in favor of an eight-team playoff format for college football. Granted, there are more pressing concerns for the President-elect – the economy, the war in Iraq and a forward-thinking energy policy, just to name a few – but there’s no reason that Obama can’t appoint a “Playoff Czar” to get the conference presidents and the bowl organizers together to hash out a system that works for everyone. Are the bowls worried about losing money? Rotate the semifinals and the final amongst the four bowl cities. Are the conferences worried about losing money? They shouldn’t be – the ratings for an eight-team playoff would dwarf the ratings the current system is getting. And better ratings means more money. This is something that 85%-90% of the population can agree on, and that doesn’t happen often. Mark our words – President Obama will make it happen, especially if he gets a second term. – John Paulsen

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