Well, well, well. Eric Mangini has picked up a couple of staunch supporters in the Browns' locker room as his job security hangs precariously.
Cornerback Sheldon Brown and fullback Lawrence Vickers have the coach's back despite a 5-10 season that has seen the club blow numerous opportunities for a far better record. None of that seems to matter to Brown and Vickers, though.
"I have then utmost respect for him," Brown told the Cleveland media. "I can't say anything negative about him,. You may find someone else, but I can't. He has treated me like a man from day one. He has all the intangibles. He learned from the best (Bill Belichick)."
And those intangibles are? Brown didn't elaborate.
Chimed in Vickers: "I love Mangini. He's a good guy, so I want him back. If not, I can't do anything about it. Like he tells us, life goes on. We want to keep fighting for our coach. That's the type of coach he is. Hey, he coaches us to finish and that's what we're trying to do."
Misguided thoughts? Or perhaps the thoughts players reacting defensively when their coach is attacked. Then again, this could be a case of Brown and Vickers saying the right thing. No sense in trashing the coach now, not with just one game left. It's possible they're lobbying for their jobs next season no matter who the coach is.
"Obviously, (Mangini) knows the plan," continued Brown. "For us, it's just going out and executing the plan. It's not his fault when we give up touchdown passes. It's not his fault when we throw interceptions. It's not his fault when we fumble. The players control that."
Then fire the players. If that's Brown's rationale, then coaches should never get fired. Someone has to be held responsible for the players' performance. One of the head coach's jobs is putting players in a position to succeed. Has Mangini done that? Look at a the record, guys. It's nothing of which to be proud.
With all due respect to Brown and Vickers, who play the game the right way, maybe they haven't looked at the standings lately. The Browns have played 15 games and won five. They have not played good football since a four-game stretch in the middle of the season. That is totally unacceptable.
All that reflects on the head coach. No way can I prove it, but if Mike Holmgren had coached the Browns this season, there's no way they would be 5-10 at this point. Moot point, but you catch my drift.
Again, someone must be held responsible. And in the buck-stops-here world of the National Football League, that leads to only one place. That place is not the locker room. It's the office of the head coach.
It's an office that just might have a new occupant next season despite what Brown and Vickers think of Mangini. If that's the case, look for the two Browns to embrace him just as they did the current coach.