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Give them credit
December 27, 2009 - Mike McLain
I have to admit that I've been impressed by the way the Browns have played during their three-game winning streak.
Considering the way things transpired in the first 12 games when they went 1-11, I didn't think there was a chance they would have four wins. They now have the opportunity to close out the season with a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars that would give them a 5-11 season.
That's not a record to shout about, but it would look good considering everything that's happened. There's been inconsistency at quarterback, injuries to key defensive players and rumored dissent among the players because of coach Eric Mangini's practice habits, yet no one has jumped ship.
It's a classic case of average players taking advantage of their opportunities. Even if some don't like the head coach, they have their careers to think about, and rolling over and giving up isn't the best way to strengthen job security.
Linebacker David Bowens is a great case in point. Bowens has been a journeyman-type player during his 11-year career, but an argument could be made that he's the team's defensive MVP. He was asked to move from the outside to inside after injuries to D'Qwell Jackson and Eric Barton, and the level of his play has elevated.
Bowens told me a couple of weeks ago that he didn't always agree with Mangini's coaching style when he joined the Jets in 2007 -- Mangini's second season with the team. He's now strongly supports Mangini.
Part of the reason could be that Bowens wants a job next year. If Mangini is asked back by new president Mike Holmgren, Bowens' chances of playing a 12th season would increase.
No matter what the motives are of the players, it's refreshing to see the way they've put out quality efforts in recent weeks. Let's face it -- the Browns were an embarrassment for most of the season. Mangini took a lot of criticism, and most of it was deserved.
Somehow, Mangini has successfully avoided full-scale mutiny. The Browns have been fun to watch, which is all any fan could ask after what they watched earlier this season.
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