BEREA – Browns coach Eric Mangini’s final scheduled press conference of the regular season occurred Friday morning.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll met with the media in the afternoon.
Not surprisingly, the main topic at all three sessions was the same: Will any of them be employed in the same capacity next season?
“(My son) Jake every now and then will ask a question – he must hear things – because he asked if we were moving,” Mangini recounted. “I said, ‘Don’t worry about it Jake, we’ll figure it out.’
“When you get those types of questions, you don’t think about how I’m going to explain the situation to my 6-year-old. That’s part of the human element, but the future will come soon enough.”
While an announcement on the coaching staff is expected early next week from team president Mike Holmgren, Cleveland does have one more game to play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Browns must win to avoid finishing 5-11 for the second year in a row, while the Steelers will be trying to lock up the AFC North Division title.
“It might be (our last game coaching Cleveland), it really might,” Ryan admitted. “It’s frustrating because in my opinion we’re right there to turning this thing around. I love Eric. He hired me and I’d be more than happy to go out with him if that’s what it takes.
“If it happens, I won’t cry about it, but that’s life in the big city. I like it here in Cleveland, but if a change is made, a change is made, and that’s life.”
While Mangini and Ryan would likely be in demand around the NFL as defensive coordinators, Daboll’s next stop would be far less clear.
The Browns’ offense, which ranked last in the league in Daboll’s first year at the helm, has only moved up three spots to 29th this season. And Cleveland’s scoring has actually fallen from 29th place in 2009 to 30th.
“It’s a bottom-line business and I think everybody understands the nature of it,” Daboll said. “You can’t think about any of that now. Things will all fall into place. Things that happen are going to happen.
“You control what you can control, which for me is to try and call a great game against Pittsburgh.”
Mangini and Ryan made the same vow to try and end the season with a victory, though the latter’s promise was sprinkled with many more expletives and exclamation points.
Ryan also handed out fact sheets to the handful of reporters present, pointing out the strides that his unit has made this year. He claimed he wasn’t “pumping a resume, I just want our guys to get the credit they deserve on defense and our coaching staff, too,” but the gesture was undeniably odd.
So was the mood at the training facility, which Daboll and Ryan both tried to lighten by saying, “It’s not a funeral.”
Just two days from now, however, it might be – figuratively.
“We’ve been through uncertainty in the past, we have a little experience with it,” said Mangini, who was fired as the coach of the Jets following their 2008 season. “I feel good about a lot of things that we’ve done here. I believe in it. I think this organization and this team have a tremendous future – a really bright future – and I’m excited about being a part of that.”
The Browns declared running back Peyton Hillis (ribs), nose tackle Shaun Rogers (ankle, hip), defensive end Kenyon Coleman (knee), and guard Floyd “Porkchop” Womack (knee) as questionable to play against the Steelers.
Hillis did not practice all week, while Coleman and Womack returned to the field Friday.
Listed as probable were linebackers Matt Roth (thumb), Marcus Benard (shoulder) and Eric Alexander (groin), tight ends Benjamin Watson (ankle) and Robert Royal (shoulder), cornerback Sheldon Brown (shoulder), tackle John St. Clair (ankle), and defensive end Brian Schaefering (shoulder).
• The Steelers have designated running back Mewelde Moore (knee) and Aaron Smith (triceps) as out.
Pro Bowl safety and Head & Shoulders shampoo pitchman Troy Polamalu (ankle) and linebacker Jason Worilds (knee) are questionable, while linebacker LaMarr Woodley (knee) is probable.
Polamalu sat out Pittsburgh’s practices Wednesday and Thursday, but was a full-go in its final workout of the week.
The NFL has reduced the $75,000 fine given to Steelers linebacker James Harrison for his hit on Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi in Week 6.
The helmet-to-helmet blow, which gave Massaquoi a concussion that forced him to miss the next game, only wound up costing Harrison $50,000.
“That’s something the league did,” Massaquoi said of the decision. “That’s part of the game. My approach will not change at all.”
Harrison also knocked out Cleveland wide receiver Joshua Cribbs on a rushing play in the Oct. 17 game, but he did not miss any action despite being diagnosed with a mild concussion.
Fun with numbers
Seneca Wallace is the only Browns quarterback with a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio at 4:2. Current starter Colt McCoy sits at 5:6, while Jake Delhomme is a dismal 2:7.
• Reggie Hodges is averaging 43.9 yards per punt, which would be the ninth-best mark in Cleveland history for a full season.
• Tight end Benjamin Watson leads the Browns in receptions with 61, which is one more than Hillis. Watson (696) and Hillis (474) also rank 1-2 in receiving yardage.
• Hillis’ eight fumbles in 324 touches are the most on the squad, while Cribbs has seven on just 101 combined carries, catches and returns.
The Browns/Ravens game drew a 26.8 rating and a 48 share locally, marking the 15th time in 15 weeks this season they have been the top rated program in Greater Cleveland.
• Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts will call the Browns/Steelers game for CBS, which has designated it as its national 1 p.m. telecast.
Geographically, it will be shown in 75 percent of the country, including every network affiliate in the Midwest except for Cincinnati and Dayton.
• The Sports USA Radio Network also will provide nationwide coverage of Cleveland/Pittsburgh.
Quote of the day
“I can’t really pinpoint it. I know it’s hard to change the culture overnight, and I know we’re doing that, but we’ve lost a couple of games we don’t think we should have lost. But did we think we’d win more games? Absolutely.” – Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.