Bye weeks should be a chance for players and coaches to get away from it all, enjoy some down time and return with a rejuvenated attitude.
The way the first half of the season went for the 1-7 Browns, getting away from it all could have meant finding a remote cave in which to spend the final eight weeks of the season. They returned to practice Monday minus general manager George Kokinis, wondering about the job security of coach Eric Mangini and taking guesses as to what owner Randy Lerner has up his sleeve concerning his desire to name a central figure to oversee everything football related.
Mangini must have felt relieved to talk to reporters on Monday. At least he has a job. Since the Browns last played, Kokinis was let go and there was speculation from Adam Schefter of "ESPN" that Mike Holmgren tops Lerner's most-wanted list.
"I'm sure there has been a range of names that have come up," Mangini said. "I talk to Randy all the time about different things. Again, my emphasis and my focus are going to be on what we're doing here day-to-day and getting the team ready."
These can't be easy times for Mangini, who seems to be losing control of what was once a vice grip on power. If Lerner gets his man to run the entire show, Mangini must know that his days as coach are numbered.
Mangini said all the right things when asked about Lerner's search for a stronger, more-experienced voice at the top.
"What I believe in is that anybody that can help us be successful, anybody that can help us move forward, I'm always open to, whether it's in that role or any other role," Mangini said. "Whether it's a player, coach, whatever it is, I'm open to anybody that can help us improve. We're always looking to do that individually and organizationally."
Holmgren and former Browns and New York Giants executive Ernie Accorsi have been mentioned as possible additions. Schefter reported that the job is Holmgren's if he desires a move to Cleveland. Accorsi is on record as saying he's happy in retirement, but that could change with a tempting financial offer.
Mangini was asked about his impressions of Holmgren.
"Really, I don't have anything to add to what I said before," Mangini said. "I'm focused on getting the guys ready."
Mangini is trying to prepare a physically battered and psychologically bruised team for the final eight games of the season. The first order of business is to decide whether to stick with Derek Anderson or go back to Brady Quinn at quarterback.
Not surprisingly, Mangini declined to name a starter seven days before the Browns host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football. He plans to make an announcement on Wednesday, when players return after being off today.
"We'll talk about that more and our preparation for the Ravens," he said. "I know where I'm headed. I'd just rather talk about it on Wednesday."
Mangini contends the offensive struggles of the first half of the season can be corrected.
"I really believe there are a lot of things that we can do to make the offense more effective," Mangini said. "I think the starting point for us is protecting the football. The amount of opportunities is always going to be limited by the times we have the football. We're giving it away too often.
"It's not purely in the form of interceptions. It's ball security. We need to do a better job as a show team constantly pressuring the ball, almost to the point where it's overkill, because that's the amount of emphasis that you have to put on it."
Mangini's biggest task this week is to make sure players are still buying into his plan.
"When you look at where we've fallen short in different areas, again it comes down to things that are correctable," he said "I experienced this in New York all three years, to take a step back to look at it objectively, be able to spend some time on it, show the players it and have the realization that if we correct these things and do these things better, then the outcome will be different."