BEREA, Ohio—As players were cleaning out their lockers for the final time Monday, they had just learned the news that Eric Mangini had been fired by the Browns.
Mike Holmgren addressed the team.
“(Holmgren) talked about how hard it was for him to make this decision because he’s been a coach,” Sheldon Brown said. “And at the end of the day, it’s on the players to make plays.
“It’s a bottom line business and it is on the players,” he said. “He just reiterated it and wanted us to focus this off season and get ready for next season. It’s tough on both ends. It really isn’t Eric’s fault. The players have to go out work and play.”
Several of the players said it was more on them than Mangini.
“We only won five games and as a player you have to look at it as you are responsible, too,” Jake Delhomme said. “I think (Mangini’s) a very good man a very good coach.”
“We didn’t execute enough to win games,” Ben Watson said. “You can’t put it on all on one person. It’s on all of us.”
Seneca Wallace said it was a tough decision for Holmgren to make.
“Mike has always wanted to do the right thing and I know it was hard for him to make this decision,” Wallace said. “I can’t speak too much on how it went down, but it was his decision.”
Brown said Holmgren sounded like a coach he played for in Philadelphia for many years.
“Eric’s a great guy, a very smart individual,” Brown said. “I’ve been listening to Mike speak and he sounds a lot like (Eagles coach) Andy Reid.”
Brown was asked if Holmgren said anything about him coaching.
“I have no idea, but Andy was under Mike and in listening to him talk, he sounded like Andy.”
Phil Dawson said Holmgren didn’t address the topic of coaching.
Quarterback Colt McCoy might reap the most benefit in the coaching change as it’s expected to bring the West Coast offense to the Browns.
“I respect Coach Mangini and Coach Daboll a lot and think they’re great men and wish the best for them,” McCoy said. “I hope and pray that we’re making changes for the better and that’s what we want to hang our hats on.”
McCoy was diplomatic when asked if he was excited about the prospects of a new offensive approach.
“I want what’s best for us to win,” McCoy said. “We improved. We got better. I know my experiences have only helped me and will only help me get better. Coach Holmgren is in charge and he will do the right thing and I think everyone in this locker room trusts him.”
McCoy said he is confident the Browns are headed in the right direction.
“I do trust the authorities that are here and we are all committed to make the changes that are needed,” McCoy said. “I’m 100 percent in it. Let’s go.”
QB Situation: The shake up at the top could change the quarterback situation. Colt McCoy is thought to be more suited for the West Coast offense, while Seneca Wallace played eight years in the system under Mike Holmgren. Wallace admitted he was frustrated during the 2010 season.
He was asked if he had to bite his tongue, at times.
“I tried to because it was frustrating because I was with a guy (Holmgren) for so long,” Wallace said. “Mangini takes a different approach being a defensive minded coach.”
Statistically, Wallace had the best season at quarterback as he was 64-of-101 for 694 yards (63.4 pct.) with four touchdowns, two interceptions and a QB rating of 88.5.
McCoy said he hasn’t lost any confidence in his ability after throwing six interceptions in the last two games.
“You can’t ever lose your confidence in this league,” McCoy said. “You have to continue to work and learn. I learned a lot of great things. I made some dumb mistakes that cost us a couple of times.”
McCoy said he will work very hard in the off-season to prepare himself for the 2011 season.
“I will go home and do what Coach Holmgren challenged us to do--to learn from the disappointments and down time to evaluate myself and to get better.”
McCoy finished his rookie season 135-of-222 for 1,576 yards (60.8 pct.) with six touchdowns and nine interceptions and a 74.5 QB rating.
McCoy said it’s upon the players to be ready for 2011, regardless of the coach.
“I’ve never been through a coaching change in my whole career,” McCoy said. “I’ve always been blessed to have the same coaches from junior high to high school and through college. It’s new territory for me.
“It’s not about who’s coaching us winning games,” McCoy said. “It’s about us. I think if you talk to me 10 years from now, I will still be evaluating myself to get better. We’re going to be winners.”
Delhomme has another year on his contract and he said he enjoyed his season in Cleveland.
“I’m glad I got to know (Mangini) and work with him,” Delhomme said. “It was a different way than I’ve ever done it, but it has been successful. We just weren’t successful enough.”
Delhomme said he would be open to returning next season after finishing the season as the third quarterback.
“I hope so,” he said. “We’ll see if you would’ve told me a year ago I would’ve been in Cleveland I would’ve laughed at you. You don’t know what is going to happen. You want to be a part of turning things around.”
Delhomme finished the season 93-of-149 for 872 yards (62.4 pct.) with two touchdowns and seven interceptions and a QB rating of 63.4.
So Long Phil: Kicker Phil Dawson isn’t too optimistic about returning to the Browns. He and his family sold their home in Westlake last month and his children started school in Austin, Texas on Monday.
Dawson is a free agent and the Cowboys are unsettled at kicker, having recently cut David Buehler.
“We’ll see what happens,” Dawson said.