The following are quotes from Browns head coach Eric Mangini's Monday press conference, the transcript of which was provided by the club:
Mangini on what he believes he has built in two seasons in Cleveland: "I know that I use this a lot, but I think we just have been going through the steps that it takes, organizationally and as a team, to build. Guys work; I don't question their work ethic at all. They compete every single game. We've been able to win some games, and now winning consistently is our next step. It's nice to come out on top in these close games, and that's something that we haven't been able to do or weren't able to do earlier in the season. That's really the next step for us. It's a good group of guys; everybody is pulling in the same direction. I think there is a much higher comfort level with each other, with the system, and there's a real commitment across the board to keep improving."
Mangini, contrasting this year to his first year in Cleveland: "Yes, last year was a tough year. I was looking forward to New Year's, I can tell you that. That was one of those [times] that couldn't get here quick enough. Going through it in New York the first year, that was really hard, too, because you're dramatically changing things and you're asking people to do things that they're not completely comfortable with. You're pushing them in ways that maybe they haven't been pushed, and oftentimes when you do that, there is a lot of push-back. There is a lot of wait and see: 'Is what this guy is saying the right thing to do or not?' 'How is this going to help us?' 'Am I improving as a player or are we improving as a team?' I give the guys last year a lot of credit; they hung in there, they fought, they kept working and they were rewarded at the end of the year, which was great to see. This year, I think we've taken some more real strides."
Mangini on where the team has made the most progress: "I think if you're just looking statistically, almost every category has improved. I'd say there's a real sense of community here. Everybody supports each other; everybody pushes each other in the right ways. We've got guys with a lot of resolve. Each guy kind of sharpens the other guy, which is a big part of growth, and that's what we're trying to do."
Mangini on whether he believes the team has shown team president Mike Holmgren that it has made progress: "I respect Mike and I think that he's going to evaluate things at the end of the season. We've got four more games left, and really what I want to do is move the team forward. That's really what I want to do. I want them to be better this next week than we were the last. It's the same thing for the remainder of the season. All that other stuff will take care of itself. What I want to do is make sure that I do the best job for these guys and the coaches do the best job, and collectively, we do the best job to improve. I like the way, as a group, the coaches and players, the way we work and we fight. I'm proud of that component of that, and now I want them to keep getting rewarded with wins."
Mangini on if he ponders how Holmgren will evaluate him at season's end: "If I did spend a lot of time on that, I'd just be a hypocrite, because I'm asking all these other guys to look at one game at a time. What's going to happen four weeks from now you can't control. What you can control is what's happening today and what we do this week. To me, that's a big component of being successful, is take care of what's in front of you and do the best you can with what's in front of you. When you do that, usually that's when the best things happen."
Mangini on whether Holmgren's feedback to him has been positive: "Yes, it's been positive. We weren't high-fiving or belly-bopping on the plane or anything, but it was a much better plane ride than some I've taken."