I am a little bit late on this one, but it has come to my attention, like everyone else by now, that Mike Holmgren has accepted Randy Lerner’s offer to join the Cleveland Browns. Craig at Waiting For Next Year wrote about Holmgren’s hire most likely meaning the end to Eric Mangini’s tenure as Browns Head Coach. I agree with his analysis of this new situation, but I will get to that. The first thing about the acceptance of this job that surprises me is that Holmgren’s title will be as Club President, everything I had read leading up to this point was that he would be the General Manager, but I guess in all actuality those positions can be one in the same. There is no solid details out yet about any specifics on the deal, but I have heard rumors that border on the slightly insane and the slightly less insane. There was a rumor that the deal was for 10 years and upwards of $50 Million, with the option to become Head Coach if he so desired. While I have no idea if this is true, nor does anyone else at this juncture, it will be interesting to see what does actually come to be the case. Apparently Lerner is going to officially make the announcement around this time next week and Holmgren will not be available to the press until the official press conference and announcements are had.
Now what does this all mean? I have no idea. No one does right now, not even the new President Holmgren. I do know one thing, and that is I never actually thought he was going to come here, and I never would have imagined this happening throughout the years as I have watched him coach many very good teams in the NFL. My speculation as to what this means to the Browns is the most likely, that the rebuild begins again. I have no idea how much roster turnover there will be, but regardless of who Holmgren brings in as Head Coach or in any other role, there will be a definite influx of player moves. As Craig talked about in his post at WFNY is the very possible ending of the Mangini era in Cleveland.
This is what I want to focus on right now. Like I have been saying here the past few weeks, no coach really should only get 1 year to try and set up a team, instill his ideology and develop talent. I have been warming up to the idea of having Mangini at the helm of this team for the near future to see how his tenure runs its course. I think, at least, for next year he deserves his chance as he has been able to win with the guys he is bringing in and while many of those choices are not popular they have gotten the job done in the past few weeks. I think that given a healthy roster and a good off-season of draft picks and free agent signings this team could contend, or maybe even play near .500 football next year with the Mangini at the helm. But… this is where it all gets muddied. Holmgren is kind of notorious for running the entire football team everywhere he has been, filling every coaching and personnel position with guys who fit into his mind-set and his philosophy. That philosophy could have the team switching back to a 4-3 defensive scheme that Holmgren is a firm believer in, and that would probably not mesh with Mangini’s thinking. That could be one of the key differences that forces Holmgren to make a coaching change, either to himself or someone else. If this, as well as other philosophical differences do make it so that Holmgren sees the team moving forward with a different Head Coach then it will be a rather nasty ending to a very un-healthy relationship between Mangini and the Browns. It was a mismatch from the beginning, and it seems like despite what Randy Lerner wanted, this was not a successful pairing. But I am not going to put all the blame on this season being a rather unsuccessful season and coaching tenure, it was not the right fit to begin with, Lerner wanted to bring in someone who was the opposite of Romeo Crennell and he fell in love with the first guy who came along. There was a rash of injuries, bad players, players with bad attitudes and a very lax work ethic left over from Romeo and Mangini’s first job was to fix that. It seems those things might be fixed, but it is for the next guy to benefit from. Holmgren has always had a very good eye for talent and been very good at developing and aiding the careers of Quarterbacks, so maybe Brady Quinn will end up being the guy in Cleveland, maybe not. Maybe we draft one high this year, a Holmgren guy. Maybe Brett Favre’s next retirement/un-retired saga comes to Cleveland.
No matter what happens, there is obviously some players that really need to stay, and some us fans would want to be part of this team moving forward. Here is my short list of guys who I think could really benefit from Holmgren’s presence.
Jerome Harrison, James Davis, Brian Robiskie, Chansi Stuckey, Josh Cribbs, Mo Massaqoui, Brady Quinn, D’Qwell Jackson, Kam Wimbley, Corey Williams, Shaun Rogers, and almost everyone that was not a Mangini “guy”. But, this is not all for me to decide and ponder. I have no idea what will happen, no idea if Mangini will stay or go, be fired or quit, or what players Holmgren likes. We will see, and that is what is fun about football.