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News » Mangini-Kokinis? A holy cow, oh no, wow

Mangini-Kokinis? A holy cow, oh no, wow

Mangini-Kokinis? A holy cow, oh no, wow

One NFL executive observing the Browns' GM and coaching search commented, "In these situations, sometimes it's not who interviews first but who interviews last" who makes the biggest impression.

Let's hope so.

After one busy week of interviews, owner Randy Lerner is said to be enamored with Eric Mangini as coach and Scott Pioli as general manager, but he fears the two can't co-exist. So, Lerner might choose Mangini and let him pick his personnel chief to assure they work arm-in-arm.

It is no secret in the NFL that one of Mangini's best friends in the business is George Kokinis, director of pro personnel for the Baltimore Ravens. If Mangini wants to lure Kokinis as his right-hand man, he would have to formally cede total Football authority to Kokinis. Anything less than that and Kokinis would not leave the Ravens.

So how does a Kokinis-Mangini duo grab you?


There are good "wows" and bad "wows." A good wow would mean Bill Parcells or Bill Cowher or Mike Shanahan entering the picture.

The other kind of wow is the equivalent of "Are you kidding me?"

Kokinis, 41, is yet another branch of the Bill Belichick tree sown in Cleveland in the early 1990s. As is Mangini. As is Pioli. As is Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, Pioli's alleged favorite coaching candidate. As was Phil Savage.

The Browns have been obsessed with the Belichick "tree" ever since he departed Cleveland and created a dynasty with the New England Patriots.

Nobody has been able to do in Cleveland what Belichick has done in New England. That includes Belichick. So the Browns might want to expand their horizons.

Possible alternatives

Atlanta President Rich McKay reportedly told the Browns not to consider him a candidate for chief Football executive until they finish their due diligence and conduct the rest of their interviews.

You can't blame McKay if he doesn't want to be part of this circus. He is overqualified for the position Lerner appears to be favoring.

McKay fits as an overseer, an experienced Football executive who could re-establish the Browns Football culture by hiring his own general manager-type and coach.

He also is a polished public communicator and would bring to the Browns a much-needed expertise in law. The Princeton University-educated McKay was a licensed attorney and was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' chief legal counsel before embarking on a new career as a Football executive. You don't think McKay could have prevented the fiasco that unfolded this season with Kellen Winslow?

McKay's critics in Atlanta point to his decisions to give Michael Vick a $100 million contract extension and to hire Bobby Petrino as coach as two great failings. They certainly are decisions McKay wishes he could have back. But they shouldn't be held against him in connection with the Browns' job. Better for McKay to commit those mistakes elsewhere and learn from them.

After all, that's one of the rationales for hiring Mangini. He's made his mistakes and should be a better head coach the second time around.

Which brings us to . . .

Mike Mularkey.

The former Bills head coach and current Atlanta offensive coordinator has the same qualifications as Mangini with one important addition: He knows the AFC North.

Mularkey was Cowher's tight ends coach in Pittsburgh from 1996-2000 and his offensive coordinator from 2001-03. That affiliation alone should merit Mularkey an interview, but he also has the experience of being Buffalo's head coach in 2004 and 2005.

Like Mangini, Mularkey certainly made mistakes the first time around. He was 9-7 his first season and 5-11 the second year after he replaced quarterback Drew Bledsoe with J.P. Losman. Mularkey also inherited some coaches with whom he didn't see eye to eye.

After Bills owner Ralph Wilson replaced Tom Donahoe as general manager with Marv Levy, Mularkey resigned and forfeited a year of pay owed him if he had been fired.

Mularkey spent the next two seasons with Miami before landing as coordinator under first-year Atlanta coach Mike Smith. Under Mularkey's supervision, Falcons quarterback and No. 1 pick Matt Ryan was a runaway winner of the league's offensive rookie of the year award and Atlanta made the playoffs with an 11-5 record.

Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson would benefit under Mularkey as head coach.

Cowher power

The Browns believe Cowher is serious about not wanting to coach in 2009, but they might give him a chance to change his mind.

Cowher's credibility was enhanced when he declined to sit down with the Jets about their opening after most in the New York media reported it would happen. During that weird 24-hour period in which Cowher was reported to be meeting with the Jets, the Browns received assurances from Cowher's people that it wouldn't happen - and it didn't.

Also, the theory that Cowher would not coach for the Browns out of loyalty to the Rooney family and Pittsburgh was debunked in Lerner's sit-down with him. Cowher wants to coach in a passionate Football city like Pittsburgh, and Cleveland is high on his list. He simply wants to sit out another year. In fact, a source said Cowher jokingly asked the Browns, "Can you wait a year?"

Cable guy

Looking for a totally outside-the-box coaching candidate? Check out what Tom Cable did as interim coach of the Oakland Raiders.

The disciple of offensive line guru Alex Gibbs took over as Raiders coach after Al Davis fired Lane Kiffin in that classic, haunting news conference. As dysfunctional as that situation was, Cable over time restored some professionalism to the team and provided toughness in the offense, particularly the running game.

The Raiders were 4-8 under Cable after winning their last two games in impressive fashion over Houston at home and at Tampa Bay.

Cable is a run-first coach who might not have enough flash in the passing game to be retained by Davis. He would be an interesting candidate to interview.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: tgrossi@plaind.com, 216-999-4670

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 6, 2009

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