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Browns, Mangini taking shots after 0-3 start

BEREA, Ohio (AP) --Now that the Detroit Lions have finally won, there's an open debate over which team is the NFL's worst, the lowest of the low.

Now that's a category where the Cleveland Browns can contend.

Their coach is under attack from all sides. Their fans are revolting against the owner. Their starting quarterback has been benched.

The Browns are down -- and being kicked. Unnecessary roughness?

Not really,'' Pro Bowl nose tackle Shaun Rogers said Thursday.We're kind of bad right now.''

Kind of? Winless after three games, outscored 95-29 -- 61-9 in the past two games -- and showing signs that they may have given up on first-year coach Eric Mangini and this young season already, the Browns are hoping to turn things around Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, who are coming off an upset against Super Bowl champion Steelers.

The Browns need a win. Badly.

It's oh so important,'' Rogers said.Not just to win, but to have a good showing. I'd love to win, but I would just love to see us compete this week, really.''

It's hard to imagine it getting any worse for the Browns, but with 13 games left, it could.

During an embarrassing 34-3 loss last week in Baltimore, Cleveland's defense gave up three rushing touchdowns in which the Ravens running backs went into the end zone untouched. The fact that not a single Browns player laid a finger on either Willis McGahee or Ray Rice led to outside speculation that the Browns had already quit on Mangini.

No way,'' Browns guard Hank Fraley said.Not in this locker room. Guys aren't giving up. Guys aren't going out there not to win or to lay an egg or anything like that. The guys in this locker room are all pulling for each other. We all want to win and turn this ship upright.

``We're 0-3, but the season hasn't been lost yet. There are a lot of games to be played.''

Meanwhile, Mangini is beginning to get some heat.

Less than one-quarter of the way through his first season with the Browns, Mangini, who has fined players for breaking his team rules, is being brutalized by the national media. Columnists, bloggers, TV analysts, former players, they're all taking their shots at the coach once dubbed ``Mangenius'' by New York's tabloids.

He's viewed as more of a tackling dummy now.'s Joe Posnanski, a Cleveland native, called Mangini ``the worst coaching hire in the NFL in the past 25 years.''


Former Pro Bowler Warren Sapp, commenting on ``Inside The NFL,'' said Mangini is wrecking Cleveland's present and future.

Why would you go to Cleveland if you were a free agent?'' he said.Do you go there for the weather? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? We know the fine system is totally screwed up.''

Mangini is also under attack by some Browns fans, many of whom are upset he benched popular quarterback Brady Quinn after just 10 quarters of play in favor of Derek Anderson. On top of that, one group of Browns fans has started an online petition asking owner Randy Lerner to sell the franchise. As of Thursday, 3,673 had signed.

But as an ominous storm circles around them, Cleveland's players are staying focused on getting that first win.

The best thing about having a tight locker room and a players-only approach is that we don't ever worry about what's going on out there,'' guard Eric Steinbach said.I don't read the newspaper. I don't get online. I don't think most of us guys do. We've lost before as players and competitors and the only thing you can do when you're down is get up.''

Mangini was brought to Cleveland in part to instill discipline. But his heavy-handed methods don't seem to be working with all the Browns. One player reportedly fined $1,701 for failing to pay for a $3 bottle of water during a hotel stay recently filed a grievance against Mangini with the NFL Players Association.

If a player has a complaint, Mangini said he's willing to listen.

My door is always open for anybody who has a concern or has what they feel is an answer,'' he said.That's not lip service. It's true. I welcome anybody to do that and that's the important thing to contribute positively and that's what is going to help us move forward.''

Having worked in New York, Mangini understands the media's influence on a team and its fans. He's hoping the Browns can block out distractions.

There's always going to be opinions about everything that takes place,'' he said.You respect those things, but the one thing that you can control is how you perform and how you work and what you do. That's the thing that should shape everybody's actions each day.''

Rogers, who called his own performance through three games ``very unsatisfactory,'' said he and his teammates are not switching off Mangini or his mantras.

Even though it's a little hard to grasp, I think people are kind of understanding the points behind it and the necessity of having some type of discipline and some type of leadership,'' he said.I think it will turn out and wins will most definitely help cover some of the rough edges, but I think guys are going to buy in.''

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