In a recent interview Jamal Lewis made it plain and clear that Eric Mangini works this Browns team too hard during the week for them to excel on Sunday’s. His view is that players’ work comes in the offseason where they prepare their bodies for the grueling 16wks of the NFL season.
The season is not the time for two-a-days and three hour practices. “You’ve got a lot of guys around here that are big-time players and can make big-time plays, but at the same time you’ve got to be ready on Sunday, or Monday” he said.
I am not really ready to jump into Mangini’s corner and defend him. I do understand that during the season, practices should be more mental in preparation than physical, especially early in the week as players heal from Sunday. But, most teams actually can play some semblance of organized football. This team is in shambles.
Eric Mangini came into a situation where discipline was at a minimum. The Romeo Crennel country club mentality had infected the team and players were not being held accountable. With numerous new players, a handful of rookies just drafted that needed to perform right away, and a quarterback situation that was up in the air – practice is the first and foremost thing this team needed.
Especially when it comes to fundamentals like tackling. Jamal Lewis may have a point, but Eric Mangini is in the first year of a reclamation project that midway through the season is teetering on the precipice of failure. If these guys don’t know what is expected and have the repetitions to deliver, no way they will pull out of this tailspin.
If players have reached the point where rest during the week is needed and they could make a solid case that it would be beneficial to have, then Lewis’ comments about it being “his [Mangini’s] show” are a cop out. Lewis is a captain. He is a veteran brought in to help this organization turn this thing around. That is why the coach has captain’s meetings, in order to motivate or get the pulse of the team as a whole. This is the very forum, not the media, to express the need for lighter practices.
Overall, let’s not forget that these guys are professional athletes and they get paid millions of dollars to play football. As of right now, this team is not playing football. They are an embarrassment. I find it hard to believe that their poor performances are generated because they work too hard in practice. I would be surprised if a little extra work wouldn’t pay huge dividends.
That being said, they’ve had two weeks off with the bye and a Monday Night Football game coming up against their rivals from Baltimore. We’ll see if the rest pushes them over the top, or if Tuesday requires another three hour practice.