Sometime Tuesday on a cold blustery day in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Browns' head coach Eric Mangini will know his future.
Will he go; or will he stay? Of course, that's entirely up to the organization's new president, Mike Holmgren, who will meet with the Browns coach to decide whether this woeful 5-11 team needs a new leader; or whether he'll tell Mangini his late-season surge, winning the last four games of the season, including a shocking win over their arch-rival Pittsburgh Steelers, convinced him that he deserves another year to stay put and continue working his magic next season.
One way or another it's report card time for Mangini.
President Obama, after a year on the job, and leading the nation through a gloomy bank collapse, record unemployment and a housing crisis, thought he managed the domestic hurricane skillfully enough to merit a B+.
Some considered such a high grade a bit too inflated; others thought given what the president was handed when he entered the White House--a B+ is just about right.
Now it's Mangini's turn. Similar to Obama, the New York Jets former head coach inherited one holy mess.
When he took over, the Browns had lost 40 games over their last four seasons; they were 0-8 against the Steelers, and failed to make the playoffs under head coach Romeo Crennel. Worse still, the Browns appallingly dropped the last six games of the 2008 season without ever scoring an offensive touchdown.
As the Browns began the 2009 season, there were no lofty expectations like there was after the team finished with a promising 10-6 record in 2007, which prompted the NFL to schedule five nationally televised games in 2008 with the Browns.
There were no such high expectations this year. Far from it. In fact, in its season preview, Sports Illustrated wrote: ``It'll take a Mangenius to fix all the mistakes by the lake.''
The Plain Dealer sports writers weren't expecting any miracles either ``2009 will be another tough season for Cleveland Browns'' read the PD's headlines on September 12th, 2009, with three of the five writers predicting Cleveland would finish with a 6-10 record.
Obama, remember, by some political scorecards, is being given high marks after a year in which the national unemployment rate is still hovering around 10 percent, housing prices expected to fall another 10 percent in 2010, and in spite of most economists predicting the chance of a robust economic recovery this year slim at best.
So if a president as competent as Barack Obama couldn't turn a dismal economy around in a year and still earn the support of the majority of Americans, shouldn't we extend the same kind of patience to a head coach after a season of coaching one of the sorriest franchises in the NFL?
Finishing the season with a 5-11 record, may not look impressive on paper; and maybe it's not. Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns beat writer for The Plain Dealer gives the head coach a disappointing C.
Still, its practically miraculous how the Browns turned from rags to riches in a blink of an eye, just when fans had given up all hope-including watching playmaker Josh Cribbs sprint the length of the field, not once but twice- first for 100 yards, the next quarter for 103 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 20th, while Jerome Harrison finished the season with three consecutive 100-yard rushing performances, something no Brown has been able to accomplish since 2004.
And Mangini and Co. were able to beat Big Ben and Co. (the Steelers) for the first time since 2003, and keep their rivals from the playoffs.
When pressed by reporters on what his future holds, Mangini said with equanimity that he was proud of the job he and the Browns have done.
I have to agree.
After all, ``it's not how you start, as the popular expression goes, its how you finish.''
Cross-posted from The Morning Delivery