Holmgren Going to the Browns?

Steve O Speak

With yesterday’s report of Mike Holmgren possibly becoming the new King of Cleveland, now seems like a good time to look at what that will mean for him and the Browns. Also, we should look at how quickly head coach Eric Mangini pack his bags, which in my estimation he should be packing already.

Holmgren to the Cleveland Browns seems like a perfect match. Holmgren has already been an integral part of taking two perpetually losing franchises and putting them on the map. The Browns are one of the most storied franchises of the NFL, but their success is well in the past, and has been non-existent since the return of the Browns a decade ago. Holmgren would immediately give the Browns credibility, and finally give them someone who can make sound trades and quality draft picks.

The Browns aren’t a bad team, they’ve just been severely mismanaged. I like the defensive talent they have on the team with big time players. Guys like Shaun Rodgers, Corey Williams, D’Qwell Jackson, and Kamerion Wimbley could start on any team. Safety Brodney Pool is developing into a big time playmaker. Pool along with young players like SS Abram Elam and CB Eric Wright, give the Browns a promising secondary. Unfortunately for the Browns, the results on defense aren’t what you’d expect given the level of talent. The Browns haven’t formed one cohesive unit, leaving them open to exploitation by opposing offenses. Also their schemes have been somewhat unimaginative, and not getting the most out of their players. I believe all that can and will change if Holmgren is running the show in Cleveland. He is a no nonsense guy, and his coaching staff will force the Browns to work together as a team and demand the most out of their players.

On offense the Browns lack the talent they have on defense, but the cupboard isn’t completely bare. Along the offensive line the Browns have a solid-good left side of the line with Joe Thomas at tackle and Eric Steinbach at guard. Steinbach is a great interior lineman, who despite being a bit smaller than most guards, blocks with the best of them. Thomas has been up and down since being drafted third overall in the 2007 draft, but he’s still a top notch tackle. At center, rookie Alex Mack has done a pretty good job of handling the elite nose tackles of the AFC North. The right side of the line has been the Achilles Heel of the Browns this season, and will need a drastic upgrade in the offseason. The Browns biggest problem is their lack of playmakers on offense. Josh Cribbs is a terrific weapon and a home run threat any time he touches the ball, but the problem is he’s not touching it enough on offense (and no I don’t think he should be solely converted to a running back). The real issue with Cribbs is there is no other offensive player worth covering over him. If the Browns had better options among there receivers than maybe you could find a way to get Cribbs open. As it stands now he’s the only threat they have. The Browns running attack will only get worse next year when its expected that Jamal Lewis will retire, leaving one of the league’s worse rushing teams without their ‘best’ runner. At quarterback I’m not as critical of Brady Quinn as others are, just in the way he has been used this season. There is no reason that Derek Anderson should have played as much as he did, considering how bad his numbers were. Benching Quinn for a half or a game I can understand, you are trying to send a message to your young quarterback and team. But benching him for 5 1/2 weeks is insane. Quinn needed all the time he could get this season, to see if he is legit NFL starting quarterback. You can’t take a third of the season away from him and still expect to answer that question. I don’t think Quinn is elite, but if they gave him some actual weapons and improved that offensive line, I do feel he could be a solid quarterback in this league.

It is because of the way he handled Quinn, if not for the other screw ups on offense, that Mangini needs to be replaced by the new regime. Mangini may know how to run an offense (though there is yet to be any evidence of that in Cleveland), but he knows nothing of running a team. From day one he offended the top players on the Browns, creating divisions in the locker room. Not to mention the fact, that at one time he benched his best offensive lineman (Steinbach) in mini-camps, and allowed a promising young rookie to practice without pads on (RB James Davis), only to see him get injured is lunacy. If Holmgren takes the job his first order of business needs to be replacing Mangini.

That brings us to the only negative with hiring a guy like Holmgren to take over football operations in Cleveland, is who does he bring in as coach? I think you can cross off your list the other big name coaches like Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan. While all of those guys would form an “Unholy Alliance” in Cleveland, none of them would likely want to work under another “coach”. One big name that could be a possibility would be John Gruden. Yes Gruden just signed an extension with MNF, but deals like that can be broken if needed. Remember Gruden got his start in the NFL under Holmgren, first in San Francisco and next in Green Bay. Also Gruden was born in Ohio and went to college there. A Holmgren-Gruden marriage is possible and could be the recipe for returning the Browns to greatness.

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