NFL: Coach Mangini staying with Browns
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND — Eric Mangini came up with his biggest win yet.
Mangini will return for a second season as Cleveland’s coach, a stunning personal victory following a four-game winning streak by the Browns that may have saved his job. New team president Mike Holmgren decided Thursday to retain Mangini, whose job security was in jeopardy after the Browns started 1-11.
Mangini’s staff has been asked to return as well.
Holmgren spent the past two days in meetings with Mangini, who was fired after last season by the New York Jets.
“I was able to gain some tremendous insight into his thought process and philosophies, and came away from our meetings very impressed,” Holmgren said in a statement. “In my opinion, Eric has gained the respect and admiration of players, coaches and others in the organization, and with him continuing to lead the team I feel that we are headed in the right direction.
“Working together, our goal is to build on the strong tradition of this franchise and help get the Browns back to the playoffs.”
Mangini felt confident all along that he would be back despite signs that the team was planning to go in another direction. Browns owner Randy Lerner did not attend any of the club’s final three games, and there were reports that Holmgren was already lining up possible replacements.
Instead, Holmgren elected continuity over a swift coaching purge. Mangini is Cleveland’s fourth coach since 1999.
“I want to thank Mike for the opportunity to not only meet with him and share my thoughts and vision on what it takes to lead a team, but also to continue what we started here,” Mangini said. “I believe we made some real, tangible progress throughout the course of the season, culminating with wins in our final four games. I feel as though the culture and mindset that we established this year have laid the foundation for success in 2010 and beyond, and I’m looking forward to working with Mike and a general manager in making this happen.”
During his introductory news conference Tuesday, Holmgren said that Mangini had a legitimate chance of keeping his job. Cleveland’s new boss then evidently liked what he heard during his talks with Mangini, who had an up-and-down first season with the Browns.
Although he and Mangini have different offensive and defensive philosophies, Holmgren apparently found enough common ground to want to work with Mangini.
Mangini was granted a second season one day shy of his first anniversary with the Browns, who hired him on Jan. 8 last year.
The Browns also confirmed that Seattle pro personnel director Will Lewis will interview to be their general manager.
Lewis has a strong background with Holmgren, working with him in Green Bay and Seattle.
On Wednesday, Holmgren interviewed Philadelphia GM Tom Heckert. The team has been without a GM since George Kokinis was fired Nov. 2. Per league rules, the Browns would have to wait until the Eagles season ends before they could hire Heckert.
Lewis played cornerback for the Seahawks. After his playing career ended, he worked as a scout with the Packers before following Holmgren to Seattle, where he joined the team’s pro personnel department.
Holmgren’s interview with Lewis, who is black, fulfills the Browns’ obligation to comply with the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching jobs and other key positions.