Since mini-camp ended last month, there is a clear and new vibe coming out of Browns HQ in Berea - Mangini means business. There is a staunch seriousness that wasn't quite there during Romeo's era of shrugging things off.
Or as Tony Grossi put it less than a month ago, "So say goodbye to Club Romeo and say hello to Camp Mangini."
I, for one, dig the new vibe. Clawing your way up the standings takes ferocity and discipline, and velvet gloves get you nowhere near the Steelers, much less past them on your way to the top of the division. So kudos to the new coach and lets keep it going.
Given that this year's schedule compares favorably to last year (especially when you think about the brutal opening stretch in 2008), hopefully the team will get some room to grow in the opening weeks before the press has reason to come down. But we'll see. Until then, we are still a few weeks out from Training Camp, so there are much more pressing issues to consider.
So while the water cooler talk focuses on moving past the past (i.e., Joe Jurevicius's lawsuit against the Browns over his staph infection last season) and preparing for the near future (i.e., 2009 single-game tickets go on sale this Saturday), let's talk a little bit about the pressing present.
For starters, let's talk about starters. I really hate when teams have QB derbies, and this one is bugging me no less than any other. More so, actually, since one of the contenders (B.Q.) is a sworn supporter of the forces of evil (The Republican Party). Can we please just trade the Notre Douche and move on? If we need to, we can add Phil Dawson to the mix, just in case any clubs out there are looking for contract-demanding aging kickers. If there is anything that makes me take solace in this competition, it is that at least Mangini is no longer saying that Quinn has an advantage going in to Training Camp (though dead-even means it is far from certain that my man D.A. will be getting the nod).
Our receiver corps are pretty uncertain, too, with the departures of Winslow to the Bucs and Stallworth to the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department. Hopefully we'll get the good Braylon this year - this would seem a strong likelihood given this is a pre-free agency year for him, but then again, this is the same dude that thinks Browns fans don't like him because of the college he went to, so logic is out the door immediately. Personally, I'm excited about both rookie receivers and definitely about CB fave Robert Royal at tight end, and I'm also interested to see what Cribbs will do now that Mangini has given him the rhetorical smack-down. Moreover, we really need these dudes to come through, because absent any upgrades to the running game, we might not have much other option. I love Jamal Lewis, but he can't keep doing his thang forever, and linebackers keep getting more super-human every season.
For the next few weeks, I plan to do a little forecasting and kvetching for each position. Next week we'll talk about both sides of the line, any news that came out during the week, and I'll continue to sift the matrix for hints of pro-D.A. indications.
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