The League

Sean McCann
Beat Writer

Sean McCann

Former Philadelphia Eagles beat writer for Gannett

GM has it easier

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A poor head coach can surely ruin a talented team, but if a front office has not provided the right pieces on the field, there isn't much even a great coach can do.

The Cleveland Browns have the worst of both worlds, of course, with a poor front office and an overmatched coach. But the point is perhaps best illustrated by another chapter in Cleveland history: the Belichick era.

Before Bill Belichick hoisted three Lombardi Trophies and anointed himself the tortured genius of the NFL, he led the Browns to exactly one winning season in five campaigns. He was 36-44 in his first stint as a head coach, leaving Cleveland after a 5-11 mark in 1995.

Were it not for Bill Parcells, Belichick might never have been a head coach in the NFL again, and the league's closest, contemporary approximation of a dynasty might never have been.

Now the Browns want Mike Holmgren to fill the same role in Cleveland that Parcells does in Miami.

For a coach, the Cleveland job is purgatory. The Browns have two mediocre quarterbacks, a demoralized, league-worst defense, and no play makers at the offensive skill positions. Put Belichick back in a Browns hoodie, and he'd be lucky to go 5-11 again.

Mangini hasn't helped his case, particularly with his handling of the quarterback position, but he never really had a chance.

For the Browns' next GM, however, the picture is decidedly rosier, if far from perfect.

The franchise's utter lack of success will make it easy for a new guy to bring in his own people. Cleveland is virtually guaranteed a place near the front of the line come draft weekend, and a fire sale of veterans could yield some extra picks.

The Browns' brass apparently realizes that positive change has to come from the top down. As some reports have suggested, Holmgren's football itch may be for the stress and glory of coaching, but if he joins Cleveland as a general manager, expect ownership to correctly place Mangini's fate in his hands.

By Sean McCann  |  November 9, 2009; 9:25 AM ET  | Category:  Cleveland Browns , Seattle Seahawks Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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