Mangini thinks Holmgren will keep him

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Eric Mangini's banking on Mike Holmgren's coaching background to buy him another year with the Browns.

With Holmgren set to assume control of Cleveland's fractured football operations sometime next week, Mangini's future will be in the hands of the 61-year-old former coach of Seattle and Green Bay, who agreed Monday to become the team's new president.

At just 3-11 during a first season in Cleveland that has been anything but smooth, Mangini's fate remains unclear. Holmgren could keep him or decide to bring in his own coach. Either way, Mangini believes Holmgren's experience as an NFL head coach could work in his favor.

"I think if you've been a head coach, you understand the different things that go into any season," Mangini said Tuesday. "Mike's last year in Seattle, they had a tough season and were 4-12. You go through those things. We were 5-11 in New England with Bill (Belichick). Jeff Fisher (Tennessee's coach) was taking a lot of heat early on and he did a nice job of turning it around.

"There's a lot of variables that go into a season. You have to look at what the situation was, assess it and see how you want to move forward."

Mangini is marching on with a drumbeat amplifying that he could be one and done in Cleveland. Speculation around the league is that Holmgren will bring in his own coach to help revive the Browns, who have fired two general managers - Phil Savage and George Kokinis - in the past year.

Publicly, Mangini is putting up a strong front. He's confident the Browns have improved under his watch.

He has not gotten any assurances from owner Randy Lerner or Holmgren, but Mangini isn't concerned about getting any long-term clarity about his status.

"I won't focus on that this week. I won't focus on it next week. That's really a discussion for after the season. Whatever the decision is, the decision is," he said. "I'm very comfortable with the things we've done and I know the things that we're building here. So it's not going to be a focal point."

The Browns have shown progress in winning their past two games, proof Mangini's supporters point to that he's turning the team around. Following Sunday's win in Kansas City, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown said Mangini could help his case with two more wins.

Mangini, though, doesn't feel any added pressure.

"I can't say this enough," he said. "It's not keeping a scorecard as to what's important for job security. It's not putting together a PowerPoint presentation or resume. I'm not trying to be flippant. I believe in the things we've done, the progress we've made, the staff we have. I feel comfortable with where we're headed."

Holmgren's imminent arrival - he's expected to complete his deal this week - didn't trigger any type of celebration in Cleveland's locker room. Browns players went about their business as they prepared for Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders.

"It doesn't really change the job that we've got to do," Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said. "As players, you've got to do your job no matter who the coach is and no matter who the president is or whatever title you want. We're just focusing on doing our jobs in these last two games and then whatever happens in the offseason happens."

Kick returner Josh Cribbs said having a football mind of Holmgren's character is huge for the Browns.

"It is because you know we have a great chance of winning now," he said. "The chances of winning goes up. You have all these minds in this organization now and they're all going to put their heads together and string along some wins in the future."

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