The Cleveland Browns enter their week eight bye with many questions; fortunately, head coach Eric Mangini isn't one of them. At least for now. Despite entering the bye with a disappointing 2-5 record, Mangini seems to have saved his job again at least for the time being. Unlike last season, where at 1-6 the Browns were only a game worse than they are now, this year's version of the Browns appear to be more competitive(the only game they were blown out is against Pittsburgh, if you could call it a blow out), losing four of their five games by a total of 22 points. And it appears that Browns players seem to be getting Mangini's message regarding limiting mistakes, as evident in last Sunday's victory over the Saints, where they did not turnover the ball once, and in addition committed only four penalties.
But there are also more subtle ways one can tell that Eric Mangini is more relaxed than he was last season. First and foremost, it is apparent on the sideline that he has a certain calm that was not apparent in season one. Next is how he handles the media during the postgame press conferences. Last year, it appeared that at times he was clearly annoyed the media kept asking him why his team was floundering when he preached things would get better. This year he appears to be more adept at handling their questions, and rather reacting to the media's attitude, his answer's focus on what his team needs to do to get better each and every week.
The final sign that Eric Mangini has matured this season is his willingess to ask for help from others, most notably boss and mentor, team president Mike Holmgren. Mangini's deference to Holmgren not only shows the humility need to be a successful coach in the NFL, but it also implies that he has bought into the concept that the Cleveland Browns team does not end with his assistant coaches and the players. One area it seems Mangini has really learned from Holmgren is how to handle a quarterback controversy, because, even though during the idle week it seems another one is brewing, the head coach seems unfazed by this. Hopefully coach Mangini will continue to seek assistance from his mentor throughout the season.
For most NFL teams, the bye week is a time of reflection, not only for what is going right, but also where they need to improve. For the Cleveland Browns, their 2-5 record suggests that they have a lot of room to improve in a lot of different areas. However, for the present time, it would appear that they would be prudent to stay the course at the head coaching position. And while it is possible the Browns could regress after the bye, putting Mangini back on the hot seat, it should by no means be time for anyone to panic.