If the Browns miss fewer tackles in 2009 they can credit a drill coach Eric Mangini introduced at the rookie minicamp and one he plans to use throughout remaining minicamps, training camps and the regular season.
A ballcarrier and a defensive player line up about 20 yards apart and charge each other like jousting knights. The defender tries to strip the ball. The ballcarrier tries to elude him. When the players are in pads in training camp the tackling will be live.
"That's a tackling drill we'll do pretty close to every day during training camp," Mangini said. "A lot of times you get to pro football people think, 'I've done this a million times. I'm a great tackler.' But there is a lot you can teach them from that drill. One is straight ahead. We teach them how to take better angles. It's one-on-one. We want to keep repeating that fundamental to minimize missed tackles."
The exact number isn't available, but missed tackles cost the Browns often over the last four years.
Mangini said he will use the tackling drill during the regular season though defenders will stop short of tackling the ball carrier
INTERNET TECH INVADES BEREA: A generation gap exists between Romeo Crennel and the man that has replaced him as Browns head coach, and it shows in the way Eric Mangini plans to use computers to keep his players in the loop when they might not be around the training complex.
No matter how many miles they are apart, Mangini will be only a computer click away from a face to face conversation with any player.
Mangini and the Browns use the video conferencing system Skype. It is a program that can be downloaded to a computer with a web cam or to a cell phone with video capabilities. It works out better for the Browns when the communication is computer to computer because of the screen size.
Mangini, as does every coach in the NFL, sacrifices family time to do his job thoroughly. He was that way as head coach of the Jets from 2006-08 and he has been putting in long hours with the Browns since he was named head coach in January. He knows the work days get longer when the regular season starts. Mangini said he started using Skype while in New York to stay in touch with his wife and children. It came in handy when his children were getting ready for bed.
"It's very interactive," Mangini said. "I think that will be a good tool. We've had some innovative uses of technology that I really didn't think I'd be using.
"George McDonald (wide receivers coach) was using it for Mohamed (Massaquoi) or Brian (Robiskie) to go through information. I'm sure those guys are a little bummed out that we call them up and have video conferences and go through the playbook, but I think it's a very good way to get some face to face time and go through that information.
"They (left rookie minicamp) with a syllabus of what we expect of them to come back with in all different areas -- strength and conditioning, coaching, right on down the line."
Skype will enable the coaches to stay in touch with injured players, such as Braylon Edwards when he had to sit at home last summer recovering from being spiked while running sprints in training camp. In 2007 it would have helped Brady Quinn stay in touch with the coaches while Quinn was involved in a holdout that spanned 11 days.
Mangini was asked whether all his players already have the Skype hook-up.
"If they don't," he said, "They will."
Mangini wants his assistants to stay in touch with the players during the interludes when they do not have to be at the training complex.