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Eric Mangini enjoying his revamped role as Browns head coach with a boss


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INDIANAPOLIS -- The reinvention of Eric Mangini is an interesting work in progress that is on full display at the NFL Scouting Combine this weekend.


The Browns' coach walked the corridors of Lucas Oil Stadium greeting familiar faces and sharing stories of his three sons. He patiently fielded questions for about 20 minutes on Saturday and then stepped outside the media room for about 30 minutes more of give-and-take with reporters. New York scribes couldn't believe what they saw and heard.


A year ago, Mangini was too busy -- too consumed with pulling all the strings in his first season as Browns coach -- to visit the media room. Now he appears relaxed and at ease in a subordinate role under President Mike Holmgren and General Manager Tom Heckert.


“I know that sounds strange, but you don’t want to make every single decision," said Eric Mangini in Indianapolis. "It’s good to have a bunch of people talking about stuff and bring up the negatives, bring up the positive, bring up different ways to look at it, because sometimes you just don’t think of it. And you may make a decision that’s not the best decision, because you didn’t think about it.”"I think it's changed quite a bit," Mangini admitted. "And changed quite a bit for the better. There's a huge infusion of ideas, whether it's ideas from the way Mike did things in Seattle or Green Bay or Tom did in Philadelphia. And it's kind of what I hoped for.


"You bring in new people and you sit down and throw the ideas out there ... and it becomes the Browns' system. It's been like that and that's comforting. It's also exciting to me because you get exposed to a lot of different ways of doing things that you hadn't thought about, angles you hadn't looked at."


Heckert said of Mangini, "He's been great. I think Mike said it right from the beginning. It's going to be an organizational decision on almost everything we do. Now Eric's involved in it, I'm involved in it and Mike's involved in it. I don't know why he wouldn't be happy with that situation."


Mangini feels he's been unfairly labeled a "my way or the highway," power-hungry coach. He said he doesn't feel a sense of loss about not having the authority to make every decision.


"There's no sense of being disenfranchised or anything like that," he said outside the media room. "It just feels like a partnership. That's what you want.


"I know that sounds strange, but you don't want to make every single decision. It's good to have a bunch of people talking about stuff and bring up the negatives, bring up the positive, bring up different ways to look at it, because sometimes you just don't think of it. And you may make a decision that's not the best decision, because you didn't think about it."


The trappings of Holmgren, a future Hall of Fame coach, are all over the Browns. He is the organization's face and voice, the owner's representative at league meetings, the quarterback guru, the coach of the coaches, the head coach's new mentor.


Heckert has yet to break the habit of referring to "Coach Holmgren."


Moreover, Holmgren has surrounded himself with four former assistant coaches, including a strength coach, Kent Johnson, four years out of the NFL who was appointed to the position with the Browns. Mangini said he knew Johnson through Brett Favre his last season with the Jets.


One of Holmgren's aides, Gil Haskell, also has been working with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to incorporate Holmgren's philosophies into the offensive scheme. At this point, neither Holmgren nor Mangini are willing to say what they want the final product on offense to look like.


"I've been with quite a few guys that cast big shadows," Mangini said. "Bill [Parcells], Bill [belichick], Mike -- there's three right there."


But this is the first time Mangini is the head coach while working under a dominating presence.


"I understand that," he said. "But being able to work with them, you never view that as a negative. It can't be a negative. It's like having the best professor at a university. Sometimes the course work is a little more challenging, but you're really happy that you have that chance."


The relative calm of February, of course, will give way to the stressful personnel decisions of March and April. So far, Mangini said, there have been no major disagreements on evaluations of the 2009 players.


The biggest decision facing the organization -- choosing the quarterback to lead the team -- will be made by Holmgren. Mangini and his staff will provide input, just as will Heckert and Holmgren's guys. The draft will be run by Heckert. All trades go through Holmgren and Heckert.


Then when it's time for the head coach -- Mangini -- to take over, Holmgren will have to be the one to adjust to a strange, subordinate role for him.


"I'm going to have my challenges, there is no question about that -- watching practices and watching the games," Holmgren said. "[Mangini] has got to trust me a little bit. I've been coaching a long, long time. But I'm not doing it anymore. He is. But that doesn't preclude any sort of conversation we will have ongoing all the time about how to make the football team better. So far, he's been tremendous."

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As a browns fan i feel really good about the organizations front office now, its gone from crap to professional overnight and the results are going to show on the field with mangini leading the charge ,having guys like holmgren and heckert who have genuine passion for the game/team and love to talk straight up and as open and honest about football "as possible" with the press and fans makes me feel like im part of something real again instead of an outsider looking in through tinted distorted glass..



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A three headed monster can be pretty unbeatable if all three heads are focused on their area of responsibility and all three are working together.


I think this can be a pretty nice relationship.

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My uncle used to have a quote over his desk "You can accomplish anything you want as long as you don't care who gets the credit". I think this is very true and if our three smart guys can work together without worrying about credit we could have a top organization year after year

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