The Vikings are coming to town. With them they bring one of the most exciting ground games in the NFL. But, what will make Adrian Peterson even more electrifying is the fact that Minnesota will have Brett Favre under center. This is a very balanced team that also boasts a defense that can certainly end the season as one of the ten best in the league. Brad Childress and company are committed to one thing this year, winning a Super Bowl. So, the question on everyone’s mind is, can the Browns actually beat the Vikings and open the season with a win at home?
Mangini took his final strategic step towards making a win a real possibility by declining to publicly name his team’s starting quarterback. Although this has led to much speculation and even derision by ESPN commentators who along with fans feel that the mind games have gone too far, this actually is a good move. Any preparation time lost by the opponent because they have to give “the other guy” a look on film gives the Browns an advantage. The move also allows the Browns to maintain some control over the week leading up to the game. Even if that “control” is more mental than physical.
Let’s not forget that the team itself will know all week who will lead them onto the field. Mangini did make his decision known to the quarterbacks in question and the team. So, over the next week the winner of this quarterback competition will get the snaps and practice needed to transition easily to field general this Sunday. Although fans may be frustrated and confused, the players won’t suffer from the effects of uncertainty.
Should any of us really be surprised that Mangini would take this charade so far? He learned from the master, Bill Belichek. A man who uses everything at his disposal, from injury reports, to unexpected trades to gain an advantage. The secrecy also does one thing that owner and GM of the Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones knows very well. It keeps the team in national conversation. Win or lose, if you aren’t being talked about, you aren’t doing something right. So, with so many new faces and a long season ahead, doesn’t it make sense that Mangini would draw this out to keep his team relevant? This may well be the case because their schedule is very much amenable to a winning record leading up to their all important matchup against Pittsburgh in week six.
The bottom line though is that when the smoke and mirrors of the mind games are stripped away all that will be left is what happens on the field. No amount of deception leading up to the game will make a bit of difference if the players are not physically and mentally prepared to play. But, that should be the difference in the Mangini era. These guys should be able to compete with Minnesota. They should be able to compete with everyone. It is a young and talented group that just needed some direction. Just because we don’t know who will be under center means nothing. Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson know, and come Sunday, we will see just how much this regime change and offseason meant to the progression of the Browns football team.
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