The Cleveland Browns head into 2013 with a newfound sense of direction.
Jimmy Haslam III, the team’s new owner, and recently hired CEO Joe Banner, bring a sense of hope and optimism to Cleveland and its loyal fans.
This is a major improvement, at least on paper, over the previous executives that were in place before Randy Lerner finally sold the team to Haslam last year.
Many are quick to point the finger at Lerner for the issues with the team, and he does deserve some of the blame. However, it must be noted that he had to take over for his father, the late Al Lerner, when Randy may not have truly wanted the burden of owning the team. He honored his father by trying to do his best, but he finally realized he needed to sell in 2012, and did just that.
The optimism in Cleveland was very prevalent, as a big name like Mike Holmgren surely would mean great things. These “great things” certainly did not come in 2010.
The first question of the season was whether or not to retain Eric Mangini. He was retained for the year, but he was on a short leash, which was held by Holmgren, and that is never a positive situation for a coach.
Holmgren then made his first bad move by signing Jake Delhomme to be the starter for the 2010 season. Delhomme was clearly past his prime and had no business starting for the Browns, which became clear once the season began.
The 2010 season saw the Browns go 5-11, with two huge wins over the Saints and Patriots. These games were won by Colt McCoy at quarterback, who was drafted by Holmgren. This pick looked like a great one at the time, but McCoy has turned out to be nothing special, even though it is evident he has given his all to the team and the city.
2011 began with the firing of Mangini and the hiring of recently fired coach Pat Shurmur. He was Holmgren’s choice, and the decision was certainly puzzling at the time. Shurmur had been the offensive coordinator for the Rams in 2009 and 2010, when the team went 1-15 in ’09 and 7-9 in ’10. Those were certainly not records that indicated a future head coach in waiting was running the offense.
It is unfair to blame the 4-12 record of the Browns in 2011 on Holmgren or Shurmur, as the lockout did nothing to help the rookie coach’s first year with his new team. He tried to be the offensive coordinator as well, which can be blamed on Holmgren, but the lockout can be his alibi for that issue.
2012 was the year that doomed Holmgren in the end.
His hand-picked coach continued to run a poorly executed offense, and Holmgren did not seem to be too worried about the performance of the team. The general perception in the city was that he was simply collecting a paycheck, which is not entirely fair. He was doing his job, but simply did it poorly.
Holmgren did not commit himself to the full extent that others in his position have, which shows that the former head coach may have been over his head as an executive.
Holmgren mercifully stepped down from his post after the Browns defeated the Steelers in November, and Shurmur was let go on New Year’s Eve. This effectively ended the short-lived Holmgren era in Cleveland, which was completely done once GM Tom Heckert was let go with Shurmur.
Fans in Cleveland, if asked, would likely say that they were hugely disappointed with Holmgren’s tenure in Cleveland. He was here for three awful seasons and nothing has changed, at least in the standings, since he arrived. There is even some anger and frustration among Browns fans when it comes to Holmgren, compounded by his recent announcement.
MHolmgren let it be known that he will listen to offers for head coaching jobs for the teams who currently have vacancies. The teams who have current openings, besides the Browns, are the Cardinals, Bears, Eagles, Chargers, Chiefs, and Bills. These teams will surely begin interviewing candidates soon, and Holmgren could grab the attention of any of these teams on the list.
The fact that Holmgren is considering coming back to coach will certainly anger fans in Cleveland. He could have simply coached the Browns instead of trying to be president of the team, which resulted in two fired head coaches and a combined 14 wins in three seasons.
Is Holmegren trying to prove something by coming back? Maybe he is trying to end his career on a positive note, instead of being remembered as the guy who wasted time in Cleveland while collecting a paycheck.
If he does in fact coach a team, the media will be all over him if his team comes back to Cleveland. But he is already facing criticism, so it would not be too much of a worry to him. The fans would also be all over him if he came back to Cleveland, which would be illustrated by, likely, offensive signs and chants.
Holmgren already is not well liked by fans in Cleveland, and he will become an even bigger enemy if he returns to coaching. He could begin to patch up his image with Browns fans if he comes out and admits his shortcomings during his time in Cleveland. This is not looking like it will happen anytime soon, so Holmgren must prepare for his name to be one that has negative connotations in the city of Cleveland.
He will never reach the level of scorn seen towards the late Art Modell, but he can certainly be in second in that category that no one wants to be a part of.