Former New York Jets coach Eric Mangini has become the front runner for the open Cleveland Browns head coaching spot according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. The report says that Mangini, who was one of three coaches let go on “Black Monday,” had a “compelling interview and owner Randy Lerner is fascinated with him.”
Mangini had the Jets at 8-3, and then after a free fall they missed the playoffs. It was a surprise that he was let go on Monday by most accounts, and since then two high profile coaches – Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan have turned down interviews with the Jets.
In a sidenote to the report, Mort is stating that if gets the job, the favorite to become the teams new GM would be George Kokinis, who is the director of pro personnel for the Ravens. Kokinis and Mangini each were members of the Browns organization when Bill Belichick was coach. Mangini formally joined the staff as an assistant coach in 1995. Kokinis was a scout from 1991 to 1995 before moving with the team to Baltimore.
In speaking to a former Browns player on New Year’s Day, he told me that he felt that Lerner should be more inclined to think twice and give an opportunity to former Browns QB Bernie Kosar. There has been plenty of fan support for Kosar, who was the GM for the Cleveland arena football team last season in its first season in town.
“He (Lerner) should give the gig to Bernie and let him run the whole thing,” the former player told me. Now with this report coming out, Kosar seems more out of the loop than ever in being a part of the organization.