INDIANAPOLIS -- With the Patriots and Colts not kicking off until 8:20 p.m., it leaves plenty of time for the NFL mind to wander, especially when taking an early morning flight from Boston to Indianapolis.
This thought came to my mind: Eric Mangini is really reaching in trying to link the Patriots circa 2000/2001 to the 2009 Browns.
There are dramatic differences, in fact, some of which come to mind immediately:
1) The Patriots didn't fire their general manager and director of football operations that first year, or any year for that matter.
2) Mangini inherited a top-5 draft pick and players who better fit his system because the prior coach was Romeo Crennel, while the Patriots had no first-rounder and required more of a dramatic overhaul from the Pete Carroll era.
3) The Browns have wavered with their quarterbacks, which has contributed to their woes. The Patriots did not.
The first time I noticed the 2000/2001 Patriots/2009 Browns linkage was last Sunday in Albert Breer's detailed Sunday NFL notes column in the Boston Globe. "There are remarkable similarities between the situations," Mangini told Breer.
Then I caught similar remarks to top-notch NFL reporter Clark Judge, who writes for CBSSports.com.
"I look back at some of the articles from 2000 in New England and they were pretty brutal," Mangini told Judge.
The dual mentions of the Patriots in 2000/2001 seemed a bit of a stretch to me. A quick Google search revealed even more.
On Friday, Mangini was quoted by Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer after coming under fire for his practice regimen, saying it is similar to how the Patriots practice.
"Bill [Belichick]'s a pretty intense guy," Mangini said. "I don't think there is a dramatic difference in approach."
When the topic of Mangini linking the 2009 Browns to the 2000/2001 Patriots was raised to a current New England team official not in ownership, the response was predictable. It's not a topic the official was interested in pursuing.
It just seems ironic that as Mangini finds himself on the hot seat in Cleveland, he's using his time in New England as a life preserver of sorts.
It's a shaky connection at best.