October 22, 2014

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More Q than A: Browns coach Eric Mangini covers a lot of topics in news conference, but reveals little

BEREA — Browns coach Eric Mangini answered a lot of questions at his post-Super Bowl press conference Wednesday afternoon, but admitted he didn’t have many answers yet.
“I didn’t come into the organization with a lot of expectations, so we’re just getting started,” he said. “I did come in with an open mind and the intention of analyzing everything. The boards in the draft room are up, the scouts are in this week, and I think that’s a really positive step for us.
“I’m also developing a ‘must’ list and a ‘need’ (player) list, but that probably won’t be something I’ll be sharing anytime soon.”
Mangini did share his opinion on a variety of subjects during a 43-minute session at the team’s headquarters, ranging from the world champion Pittsburgh Steelers to his near-collision with Shaun Rogers to the ongoing quarterback dilemma.
Among the highlights of his second appearance since being named Romeo Crennel’s successor on Jan. 7:
Mangini said the decision to remove a wall mural featuring the Browns’ 16 Hall of Fame players from the facility was not a sign of disrespect. Instead, it was the first step in turning the main lobby into a shrine honoring the franchise’s history and its legends.
The photo-filled mural had been located at the players’ only entrance and was off-limits to the public.
“That tribute would be better out in front where everybody can enjoy it,” Mangini said. “It should be in a more prominent place and a higher area of traffic, which is why we’re going to (put up a display) in the lobby, where Jim Brown’s shoes already are.”
There have been no developments in choosing either Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson as starting quarterback, but offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has spoken with both players. Anderson will receive a $5 million roster bonus in March, putting some degree of a timetable in play.
“I want to spend more time with (Derek) and learn more about him,” Mangini said. “It’s going to be ongoing as far as getting to know them better, watching them work, talking to Brian, getting his feelings. I think I’m open to all different possibilities.”
Mangini said he did not know that he walked directly past standout defensive tackle Shaun Rogers without saying a word at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards on Jan. 21.
“I realize that’s probably hard to believe considering our size — it’s like two destroyers missing each other,” said the coach, poking fun at his own weight. “I’m glad Shaun is at the Pro Bowl and he’s going to have the chance to enjoy himself this week. I always appreciate a 360-pound nose guard who is powerful and disruptive and has a high motor.”
The coach said he enjoyed watching the Super Bowl as a fan, but feels no additional pressure after AFC North rival Pittsburgh won its second title in four years.
“I appreciate the rivalry and the tradition and the excitement around (Browns-Steelers games), but every year is its own year, and I really believe it,” Mangini said. “You don’t get to start at 10-6. You’re 0-0, just like every other team is. You don’t start at 4-12 or 5-11. Everybody starts at the same level.”
Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, running back Jamal Lewis, tackle Joe Thomas and special teams ace Joshua Cribbs were singled out as being the most impressive players during Mangini’s preliminary film review.
“They have some qualities I really like,” he said.
He added that linebacker Willie McGinest hasn’t decided if he will retire, nor have the Browns determined if they will offer him a contract.
The news that 15 Browns employees recently lost their jobs deeply affected the coach, who was fired last month after three seasons as the head coach of the New York Jets.
“I understand the difficult times we’re in and I never would treat that with anything but absolute seriousness,” Mangini said.
Former 49ers offensive line coach George Warhop has been hired for the same job in Cleveland, while strength and conditioning coaches Tom Myslinski and Alan DeGennaro have been retained from Romeo Crennel’s regime. Mangini said he has four to five more people to add to his staff.
The Browns’ offseason conditioning program will begin March 16, the first day the NFL allows. During that session, Mangini plans on “spending a concentrated period of time with” all 64 players that are under contract.
Mangini continues to speak with Crennel on a regular basis and would like to keep him in the organization.
“We talked yesterday, and that friendship hasn’t changed,” he said. “Romeo has a lot of insight and is as helpful as he can be.”
General manager George Kokinis is running all aspects of the personnel department and will likely make some changes in the franchise’s scouting staff. Mangini will join him at the upcoming college scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Mangini has temporarily moved into an apartment very close to the team headquarters.
“I haven’t been out much,” he said. “I went and looked at a couple houses. That’s really it.”
Contact Brian Dulik at (330) 721-4059 or brisports@hotmail.com.