Here's a sampling of quotes from Browns players and head coach Eric Mangini on Monday. Quotes from Mangini are from a transcript provided by the club:
Browns CB Sheldon Brown, explaining why the team's leaders have been advising players to emphasize playing hard for head coach Eric Mangini, not speaking out in support of him, in recent weeks: "No matter what you do, the only way we can save his job or whatever their decision is — first of all you have to save your own job — but you have to go out and play like you want to save his job, not talk about it." (Source: The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer)
Brown on whether Mangini is capable of leading the Browns to greater heights: "Yeah, he has all the intangibles. He learned from one of the best (Patriots head coach Bill Belichick). Obviously he knows the plan. It's not his fault when we give up touchdown passes, throw interceptions and fumble." (Source: The Plain Dealer)
Browns FB Lawrence Vickers, noting that the team is playing for Mangini as well as their teammates: "We want to keep fighting for our coach. That's the type of coach that he is, and that's how we've kept playing. Hey, he coached us to finish, and that's what we're trying to do. I want to walk out of here with my head held high and I know the other guys do too." (Source: The Plain Dealer)
Vickers on the Browns' progress: "We're on the verge of doing something great. I can feel it even with whatever's going on. We (went through) three quarterbacks and kept ticking and kept fighting. We still have a lot to play for and we love to play the game. That's something I'd teach to my kids: 'Look at how these guys finished.' " (Source: The Plain Dealer)
Mangini on whether he gave Browns owner Randy Lerner a timetable on how long it would take to engineer a turnaround when he was hired in 2009: "I don't think there's any one timeline. I think what you have to do, philosophically, when you're discussing it, it's: 'How do you want to build the winner?' You can look at it from a short-term perspective where you are going to do everything that you can to just win that year, or you're going to look to build a team and an organization that can compete year in and year out, and that's what I believe in. I've been a part of that and there are a lot of things that go into that. Ideally, what you have is you create something that each year is at a high level, like a lot of teams in our division are."
Mangini on whether he believes it's fair he could be judged off of two years on the job when he's taking a long-term approach: "(That's) not my position to judge. The thinking hasn't changed in terms of building something for the long term, from my perspective. Whatever decisions are made, are made, but that's something that is out of my control at this point."
Mangini, giving his take on the team's progress standing out in spite of its record: "I hope it's apparent in terms of the way we play each week. We haven't been on the plus side of as many games as we wanted to, but they have been close games. I think there has been significant improvement in every single area. I don't expect that arrow to change and point down any time soon. These close games, as you learn to win consistently, will shift in our favor. It's going to happen."
Mangini on some players publicly saying they want him to come back in 2011: "To me, there's a sense of community in this team and there's a sense of purpose in this team. That doesn't happen by accident. We all want to win every single week and there's tremendous respect for each other from the players and the coaches, and you can't share this long period of time of working together and having the positives and negatives throughout the course of the season and the emotional highs and lows throughout the course of the season without forming that bond. That's going to continue to be here and it's going to continue to propel us forward. It's meaningful when players say that because I think it's indicative of the mutual respect and feelings that we have for each other."
Mangini on the importance of having a field-stretching threat in the passing game: "I think what you need is consistent balance where you can hurt a team in either area. If you're getting a lot of guys stacking the box, you can go to the passing game; if they're in a two-deep, show you can run the ball effectively. There's also going to be times where they're going to have eight in the box and you need to be able to run the ball regardless of how many people they have in the box. Then the next answer is pressure. Teams will bring pressure. That's one of the things I thought (QB) Colt (McCoy) did really well yesterday, is there were multiple times during that game where we had a play called, he saw the pressure look, he got the protection changed, and got us into a really good play that led to us converting on third down in some of those 3rd-and-longer situations, where we've had some real problems against the Ravens in the past. There are two more, one was dropped and one the throw was a little bit off, that we had a real opportunity to convert again based on him recognizing, 'OK, here is where the problem is, let me change the protection.' And then I thought the line did a really nice job really throughout the course of the day communicating who had who, the line, the backs, the tight ends and getting it blocked up. The volume of stuff that they bring and the kinds of people, it's not easy. There is some repeats in terms of where they're attacking, but they dress it up a lot of different ways. I thought that was a real strength of Colt's yesterday."
Mangini on whether team president Mike Holmgren has offered him any positive feedback this season: "It really hasn't been like that at all. I appreciate that, actually. Mike's been good about having me and the staff and the team focus on the task at hand. It hasn't been sort of that type of dialogue, so it's really been team-related stuff as opposed to anything like that."
Mangini on whether he's curious to know what Holmgren is thinking of him: "What did someone tell me one time? 'Don't worry about the future — it comes soon enough.' What I really want, what I really want, is to beat Pittsburgh, that's what I really want. I can't be more sincere than that. Pittsburgh is a huge game whether it's the first game against Pittsburgh or the second game against Pittsburgh; it's Pittsburgh and that's what I want to do. The Steelers are different and they're a good team, a really good team. It's at home and I think that's the focus. I want the guys to have a great week of practice and go out and thump, beat Pittsburgh."
Mangini on RB Peyton Hillis, who took a big hit from S Ed Reed to his ribs and back early in the loss to Baltimore Sunday: "He's sore, really sore, but I think he should be fine for the game. On Wednesday we'll just see where he's at. We may or may not limit his reps or something like that, but he should be fine for the game."