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Pluto on the Coach


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Yes, the Browns need a leader, but they may not need a new head coach: Terry Pluto

By Terry Pluto, The Plain Dealer

December 20, 2009, 4:39PM


UPDATED: 5:04 p.m.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- I hope Mike Holmgren has been watching the last two Browns games.


I hope he sees a team that clearly needs impact players, but a team that also is well-disciplined and determined. I hope he sees a team that hasn't quit during a part of the season when it's so easy to do just that.


As Holmgren seems on the verge of taking over as team president, I hope he sees there are many reasons to give Eric Mangini a chance to coach next season.


Yes, the Kansas City Chiefs are a bad team, now 3-11 after the Browns' 41-34 victory Sunday. But I also know that if the players really loathed Mangini, they show it on the field. They would not have won this game. Instead, the Browns beat the Chiefs with Joshua Cribbs turning in a performances for the ages, returning two kicks for touchdowns.


Joshua Cribbs' second TD kickoff return ended with a hug from Robert Royal late in the second quarter Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.There was Jerome Harrison doing his best Leroy Kelly imitation with 286 yards in 34 carries, including touchdown runs of 71, 28 and nine yards. Harrison finished with 286 yards, breaking Jim Brown's single-game record of 236. It was the third most in NFL history.


This is not to explain or excuse every decision made by Mangini this season. The draft remains disappointing. They remain a team that can't stop the run. They had an embarrassing offense for the first nine games of the season.


But they are getting better.


That's what this game tells me, despite the fact that I sensed the Browns were heading for a repeat of that last-play 38-37 loss in Detroit.


Lord, I hate the prevent defense. But it seems every coach plays it, no matter how many times it seems to fail in these situations.


I will stay with my point that Mangini has the attention of his players. They remain near the league lead in fewest penalties. They rarely showboat, and they demonstrated some true grit to beat Pittsburgh in the cold 10 days ago.


They are getting better despite being without their two best defensive players -- Shaun Rogers and D'Qwell Jackson. They are getting better running the ball, especially since an aging Jamal Lewis was replaced with Harrison and Chris Jennings.


They somehow won with Brady Quinn throwing for only 66 yards. He was 10-of-17, and had two interceptions. But he also had two huge runs for first downs.


I see more creativity from the offense, although I could live without that last Cribbs pass into the end zone (incomplete), and then trying a 52-yard field goal (missed). A run to set up the field goal attempt would have made more sense.


But overall, I am not saying this is a wonderful team or even close to a playoff caliber team.


But it is a team with a lot of heart, a team that has made progress, and at least some of that is due to the coaching staff.

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They remain near the league lead in fewest penalties. They rarely showboat, and they demonstrated some true grit to beat Pittsburgh in the cold 10 days ago.

this stands out the most in that article and pluto makes a good case for keeping mangini and seeing what he could do in year 2.

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