The Cleveland Browns had some very high highs and some very low lows during the 2010 NFL season. They knocked off the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints and what was widely regarded as the NFL’s best team, the New England Patriots. On the other hand, they also dropped their last 4 games in quite unimpressive fashion.
While there were some surprising performances from new contributors like Peyton Hillis, Joe Haden, T.J. Ward and Colt McCoy, one of the most disappointing seasons came from cornerback Eric Wright (and no, not Eazy E).
Wright who sat down with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, joined the Browns in 2007 via a 2nd round pick. By 2009, he was one of the Browns better players and entered the 2010 season with high expectations and even aspirations of a Pro Bowl selection. Those expectations were quickly put to rest in week 3 against the Baltimore Ravens and he never seemed to recover. While not entirely his fault (coaches have some culpability), Wright was absolutely embarrassed by Anquan Boldin who beat him badly for 3 key TD’s in a Ravens victory.
Wright followed what he calls “the worst game of his career” with a less than stellar performance against Terrell Owens and the Bengals (while most of Owens 10 catches for 222 yards were not charged to Wright).
Wright, however, was directly responsible for giving up a game winning TD against Santonio Holmes and the New York Jets. The Browns, fresh off victories over the Saints and Patriots were on the brink of knocking off the Jets when Wright was beaten badly on a slant by Holmes. Thanks in part to poor initial coverage by Wright and then an awful tackling angle by safety T.J. Ward, Holmes took the short pass 37 yards to the endzone and secured a Jets victory.
Granted, Eric Wright was not to blame for every single poor play the Browns secondary had in 2010. But he was responsible for his fair share, and was probably the worst secondary player on the team. For this reason, these particular comments don’t sit well with me:
“Whether others were there or not, it didn’t matter,” Wright said. “By that time, it’s going to be Eric Wright’s fault.”
First of all, any time an athlete refers to him or herself in the 3rd person, it’s not a good look. Secondarily, the excuses, rationalization, and perceived whining isn’t what you typically like to hear from your players. He could have come off a lot better if he just owned up for not playing well and letting fans know that he’s coming back for a strong 2011.
He went on to make more excuses saying:
“It was two or three games and a few other plays and it destroys everything you’ve worked hard for as far as making a name for yourself. By the time people are saying ‘He [stinks], get him out of there,’ it’s hard to shake.”
Actually, with as poorly as he played and with his confidence completely gone (confidence is one of the key attributes for a cornerback) and with the strong play of Joe Haden, it made sense to “get him out of there”. There was a veteran who the coaches loved in Sheldon Brown, and Haden who made a great run at rookie of the year despite not starting at the beginning of the season.
Up until now, the criticism he received from the media and fans was completely understandable and justifiable. He may be a great guy and may end up being a solid player, but he was putrid in 2010.
But this is where it gets ugly.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Wright received death threats during the season that were never reported to the Browns or to police. He apparently attributed them to “extreme passion of Browns fans.”
However passionate Browns fans are, death threats are inexcusable. I don’t care what a player does on the field, says off the field, or how he or she is perceived by a fan base. Death threats are never acceptable, understandable, and they should be pursued in a criminal investigation.
Wright commented on the death threats saying:
“I wasn’t fearing for my life. As serious as a death threat may be, I wasn’t going to let a few apples ruin the whole tree.”
Following the season, Wright says he was contacted by some of the league’s elite cornerbacks such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel, and Champ Bailey about overcoming adversity. Wright indicated that they tried to “motivate him in a positive way to block out certain things.”
Wright went on to clarify that he played much of the season with a pulled hamstring and suffered a bone bruise in late November. The bone bruise typically sidelines players for 4-6 weeks, but Wright missed only 1.
Wright commented, “I didn’t want to let the team down. We were shorthanded at cornerback as it was. It was the same reason I came back last season two days after the car crash where I almost killed myself.”
If the hamstring injury is true (they are impossible to positively diagnose), it could help explain the poor performance after a very good 2009 campaign. If it’s true, you have to give him credit for playing through an injury for nearly an entire year.
Despite his awful 2010, the Browns offered a 2nd round tender to the much maligned cornerback meaning that if another team wishes to sign him, they would have to surrender a 2nd round pick to the Browns.
About returning to Cleveland despite the death threats, Wright said “I want to be in Cleveland. I feel like we’re going in the right direction and I’m hopeful.”
For as much venom Browns fans directed at Eric Wright last year, if he’s able to follow it up with a solid campaign in 2011, it will be all forgiven. It remains to be seen if the damage Browns fans did with their relationship with Wright can ever be repaired.
Mike Holmgren very nearly hired himself as Browns Head coach and could have hired Jon Gruden before selecting Pat Shurmur according to comments he made on KJR-AM 950 Seattle.
Holmgren was hired as Browns president in late 2009 after his successful run with the Seahawks. Holmgren inherited Eric Mangini and after 2 years with the coach, Holmgren decided to relieve Mangini of his duties in favor of a better “fit” for his philosophies.
Many saw the move coming as Holmgren has made his affinity for the offensive side of the football and specifically the west coast offense very clear. Mangini, a Belichick disciple, was more defensive minded and the struggling and often inept Browns offense was something Holmgren could not live with.
As we know, Holmgren ultimately hired former offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, Pat Shurmur after conducting only 3 interviews (none of which included the big name free agent coaches). But the interesting part is what occurred prior to the Shurmur hiring.
If you listened to Holmgren’s comments throughout the 2010 season and leading up to the hiring of Shurmur, he dropped several hints indicating that he had the “itch” to coach again. I personally thought that Holmgren wanted strongly to coach and I was a little bit surprised that he honed in Shurmur so quickly. The Shurmur selection makes a lot of sense if you think about it, but I was of the belief that Holmgren’s first choice would be to come down to the sidelines himself.
As it turns out, my thinking and the thoughts of many others, were not all that far off. Prior to conducting the first interview, Holmgren says he sought the opinions of General Manager Tom Heckert and Executive Vice President of Business Operations Bryan Wiedmeier regarding his potential return to the sidelines.
Holmgren gave them one day to think about it and told them the following:
“I told them if you don’t think it’s the right thing to do for our football team, you can say that, no strings attached. I came back the next day and they thought it would be a pretty good idea if I wanted to do that. We could make that work.”
“I went home and talked about it with Kathy (Holmgren’s wife). We prayed about it a little bit. I realized I came here to do a certain job. I want to fulfill that promise to my owner and see if in another role I can get the thing done.”
Holmgren is 62 years old and has accomplished everything imaginable as a Head Coach in the NFL so it’s not all that surprising that he (and especially his wife) wouldn’t want to invest the time and effort it takes to be a Head Coach again. However, despite his current role, at his core, he is a coach. There is no question that it kills him that he’s not able to control the team as a coach would and that he isn’t on the sidelines.
Despite the decision to hire Shurmur, which Holmgren at the time said he hopes this is the last Head Coach he has to hire for the Browns, he did not rule out a return to the sideline in the future. Holmgren has repeatedly referenced his promise to owner Randy Lerner to return the team to greatness in the role of team President. Holmgren has 4 years remaining on his contract as President and oh by the way, Shurmur just signed a 4 year contract.
4 years in the NFL is an eternity so anything could happen between now and then, but Holmgren offered this in response to questions about a future return to the sidelines:
“You never know for sure. Organizations and owners want to go with the younger guy. I get that. It’s OK. If I wanted to get back into coaching, I could have. I had that opportunity. Maybe I’ll get another opportunity, who knows?
“But I’m really not thinking that way. I’m really thinking this is what I should be doing, and I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. If I think any other way, you really run the risk of not doing the best job you can do.”
The next comments were incredibly surprising to me. Many Browns fans were up in arms that Holmgren didn’t interview Jon Gruden and some of the big name “free agent” Head Coaches out there. I personally believed that Jon Gruden wouldn’t have been at all interested in the Browns job, but I may have been dead wrong.
Holmgren said he could have hired Jon Gruden and that he also spoke with former Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher:
“Bill (Cowher) wasn’t ready to come back. He was very honest about it. Jon said he’d come back for me. I said, ‘I need more than that. You shouldn’t just come back for me. You should want to do this.’ He really enjoys TV, and he’s good at it.”
I suppose the loyalty to Holmgren by Gruden shouldn’t be a surprise as Gruden learned under Holmgren early in his career, but this is the first that anyone has heard about Gruden being open to taking the Browns job.
While Holmgren has declined to take over as Head Coach, he is as involved as ever. Holmgren, as he has always said, has an “open door policy” with players and has taken a specific interest in QB Colt McCoy. Holmgren overruled his “Cabinet” in last year’s draft and made the decision to take Colt McCoy in the 3rd round. Holmgren has indicated that he is advising McCoy, but more on how to deal with life in the NFL than with passing mechanics or offensive strategy.
Browns fans may be unhappy that they missed out on Holmgren and Gruden as the next Head Coach, but by all accounts, Shurmur is an incredibly gifted and sharp coach and he should be a great fit under Holmgren to take the Browns to the next level.
Shaun “Big Baby” Rogers was once one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the NFL. And then he sent to Cleveland…..
After many injuries, an airport arrest, and a disappointing on-field tenure in Cleveland, the Browns cut ties with the veteran in February. And while generally speaking players cannot sign with new teams until the new CBA is in place, veterans who were under an existing contract who were released are permitted to sign with new teams.
Rogers was dominant in Detroit as a 4-3 DT and seemed out of place and unmotivated in the Browns’ 3-4 scheme. The Miami Herald has reported that the New Orleans Saints have signed Rogers to a one-year contract yesterday. Rogers will turn 32 in a couple weeks and while he struggled in his 3 seasons with the Browns, this could be an outstanding move for the Saints.
First of all, it is a great move for the Saints to sign him to a one-year deal for a couple reasons. Rogers can be dominant if he’s motivated and signing him to a short-term deal has the potential to maximize his ability. Secondarily, with the uncertainty surrounding the new CBA makes a short-term deal a very smart move.
The Saints, who are now 1 year removed from a Super Bowl championship have not been very stout on the defensive side of the ball. Rogers, a ten year veteran, can still make an immediate and significant impact for the Saints if and when there is football in 2011.
The Cleveland Browns have multiple holes on their roster but two of the most glaring are wide receiver and defensive front seven. The Browns hold the #6 pick in a draft that is front end loaded with impact defensive lineman. The top part of the draft includes only one impact wide receiver, A.J. Green.
Many in Cleveland believe the Browns will target one of the impact defensive linemen such as Von Miller from Texas A&M, Nick Fairley of Auburn, Marcell Dareus of Alabama, or Da’Quan Bowers of Clemson. Also lurking out there is North Carolina standout Robert Quinn and stud defensive back Patrick Peterson from LSU.
Obviously, the Browns’ selection will be dependent upon other teams’ selections ahead of them, but it is certainly logical with the incredible depth on the defensive line that the Browns would fill that need with one of the many players who are worthy of the #6 selection.
Mike Holmgren may have other thoughts, however. Holmgren, who arrived in Indianapolis for the combine yesterday, told the media “I’m also looking for a home-run hitter.”
Now it wouldn’t be an NFL Draft without posturing, smokescreens, and flat out misinformation being spewed by each and every team in the NFL. There is no question though, that Holmgren has a unique affinity towards the offensive side of the ball. He fired a solid coach in my opinion in Eric Mangini largely because of the differing philosophies. Holmgren is intently focused on implementing his version of the West Coast Offense in Cleveland. So much so, that he handpicked surprise Head Coach Pat Shurmur due to his experience in running the offense under Andy Reid.
So even though you can never read too much into pre-draft comments, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Mike Holmgren stepped in and personally selected A.J. Green at #6. While Tom Heckert is charged with running the draft and developing the roster, Holmgren stepped in and personally selected Colt McCoy in last year’s draft.
Holmgren also added “We do have a lot of work to do on defense and it is a good draft for defense. But I think you have to be a little careful of thinking too much about needs so that you reach. I don’t want to do that. So our philosophy is to take the best player on our board once it’s set up. Now, if you have two guys that are really close, then we’d have a discussion on which to take.”
Many draft experts rank A.J. Green among the top overall players in the draft but I wouldn’t consider any of the defenders discussed above as a “reach” at #6. What Holmgren is saying, however, is if Green is their top rated player they will likely take him despite having glaring holes on the defensive front seven.
Again, it’s the draft and you can’t really listen to anything anyone says publicly so I wouldn’t put a lot of stock into these comments. But it does raise an intriguing issue because it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Holmgren fell in love with A.J. Green and made a move to get him should he be available at #6.
As the NFL Combine approaches, there are always a few high profile players who opt not to attend or to only partially participate. For some of the elite players, they feel they can only hurt their draft stock by a bad workout so they decide to let their play and pre-draft hype speak for itself self.
Cam Newton, who held a “media only” workout recently, announced this week that he plans to fully participate in the upcoming combine which is a surprise to many. Many experts believed that the “media only” workout may have been Newton’s opportunity to showcase his talents and that he wouldn’t want to participate in the combine to avoid being potentially exposed in some of his weak areas and to avoid the pervasive interviews about the scandal surrounding Newton at Auburn.
For Newton, the workout he had for the media accomplished what it was meant to accomplish. It generated a great deal of hype and those at some prominent media outlets immediately began to gush over his workout and move him up the mock draft boards. So, with the incredible hype already surrounding him, is it a good idea for Newton to fully participate at the combine?
When asked about his decision to participate, Newton said that he wants “to be transparent” through the whole draft process. He also added:
“I don’t have nothing to hide, and I’m a competitor. I’m going to go out here and do what I’ve been working on this whole time and preparing for this moment right now.”
Cam Newton has been working with a QB coach in San Diego and has received mentoring from Hall of Famer Warren Moon. Newton is already projected to be a top 10 pick, but there are many landmines between now and the draft that could significantly hurt his draft position.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea for Newton to participate in the combine despite some of the dangers. Physically, he’s an imposing individual and I believe that once NFL scouts and executives actually see him in action up close and personal they will struggle to hold back their excitement. Newton is already a more polished passer than Vince Young or Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford helped to dispel the myth that QB’s coming from spread offenses cannot adjust to an NFL scheme.
It is troubling, however, the number of fans and analysts that immediately say that Newton will struggle to pick up an offense and may lack the football IQ due to the system in which he played. No such questions surrounded Tebow or Bradford and so they should not be tagged on Newton. Will it be a long process for Newton to learn to play under center and learn an NFL offense? Of course. But not necessarily any more so than with any other QB prospect in the last 10 years, including Bradford.
Physically, I find it nearly impossible for Newton to have a bad outing. He is just that athletic that I am willing to assume that he will perform well as far as the physical tests. My biggest concern is the interview process. If NFL executives get the feeling that Newton isn’t fully invested in the game of football or that he’s not being completely honest and forthright with them regarding the scandal, it could scare a lot of teams away.
To this point, Newton offered the following:
“That’s nothing I’m worried about. I understand that everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, and I just feel like if I have an opportunity to speak with a person or let a person evaluate me as a person, not something that has been stereotyped, I think their perception about me will change, and I’m willing to take that risk.”
Even despite the massive drama surrounding Newton and Auburn this past season he performed brilliantly each and every week. He said all the right things in all the interviews and even though he refused to answer certain questions in a Mark McGuire type way, he handled the scandal relatively well. He continues to say all the right things, but only he knows the truth about the situation with his father.
I believe he will continue to say the same things and I think participating in the combine will significantly improve his already high draft stock. I think it is a great decision on his part to participate especially given that rival draft prospect Blaine Gabbert has already decided not to throw at the combine later this week.
Let’s just see how high this kid goes…
The Cleveland Browns quickly ended their 2 week head coaching search last week after interviewing only 3 candidates and closed in on Rams Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur. Shurmur fits the Holmgren profile to perfection but is certainly inexperienced as far as NFL Head Coaches go. Many close to the organization believed that the Browns would therefore look to more seasoned and proven coordinators to round out the coaching staff in order to provide confidence and a resource to Shurmur as he enters his first season as a Head Coach.
Shurmur dismissed this idea as it relates to a traditional offensive coordinator after telling the media that he would call the plays himself next season. There are rumors, however, that the Browns are considering Jim Zorn who served as the Ravens QB coach last season and Nolan Cromwell, former Rams WR’s coach as offensive coordinator.
This theory appears to be holding true on the defensive side of the ball, however, as the Browns are reportedly interviewing veteran coaches Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron this week according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Jauron has been rumored to be the leading candidate for the DC position since last week and he does have the requisite experience. Jauron served as head coach for the Lions, Bills, and Bears and served as DC for the Lions and Jaguars. His record as a head coach was unimpressive at 60-82, but he does have a good reputation as a coordinator. Jauron served as the secondary coach for the Eagles last season and he is a candidate for the same position in Philadelphia.
Wannstedt is coming off of a college football stint with the University of Pittsburgh and he spent 11 seasons in the NFL as a head coach with the Bears and Dolphins. His record as a head coach in the NFL wasn’t too bad at 82-87 but his best success came as defensive coordinator for Jimmy Johnson with the Cowboys and Dolphins. Wannstedt has also interviewed for the DC position with the Bills.
Many of the negative media members locally will immediately write off both candidates as they haven’t had the best tenures as NFL head coaches, but I like both candidates a lot. They both have tremendous success as coordinators which is all they are being asked to do in Cleveland. I also believe that despite their poor records as head coaches, the experience they have going through multiple seasons as an NFL head coach will be invaluable to Pat Shurmur as he tries to navigate his first season in the NFL.
Despite the delusions of some Browns fans, the big name Head Coaches like Gruden, Fox, or Cowher just were never in the cards. In fact, after interviewing only three candidates (all coordinators), it appears that the Browns’ Head Coaching search has reached its end. From the beginning, Pat Shurmur arose as the lead candidate, and multiple sources have now reported that the Browns would like to work out a contract by as early as today.
For those who wanted the big name, sexy coach… I’m sorry. It was just never going to happen. Gruden didn’t want to be here and from all accounts, he doesn’t want to coach anywhere this season. Cowher announced that he wouldn’t be coaching until at least 2012 and the Browns never even requested an interview with John Fox.
For those who are disgusted with the potential hiring of a coordinator… don’t be. You only need to look to Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh, Mike Smith, Sean Payton, Raheem Morris, Mike McCarthy, Todd Haley, etc. The trend in the NFL is to find a very good coordinator and allow him to rebuild the team with a great foundation in the front office. Not to mention, Mike Holmgren had a very specific profile he was applying to the coaching search.
The ideal candidate had to be offensive minded with a specific love for the West Coast Offense, have direct ties to him or one of his proteges, have experience in developing young QBs, be young enough that he can mold and take full credit for his success, and impressionable enough so that Holmgren can make him an extension of himself.
When you look at it from that perspective, John Fox, Jon Gruden, etc. just don’t fit the mold. In fact, Perry Fewell didn’t fit the mold even though I think he’s a very good coach. It was a clear effort to deal with the Rooney Rule and nothing more. Shurmur is the perfect fit for Holmgren.
Pat Shurmur spent a number of years working under Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid as a QB coach. During that time he also worked with Browns GM Tom Heckert. Andy Reid is perhaps the most successful Holmgren protege outside of Jon Gruden, so there aren’t too many people Holmgren would respect more so than Andy Reid. Shurmur came very highly regarded from Andy Reid, with multiple year experience in not only the West Coast Offense, but Mike Holmgren’s version of it. Big time mark on the plus side of the ledger.
Shurmur also spent this past season as the Offensive Coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. Many Browns fans, especially the agenda driven local media (who are not only misinformed, but rather ignorant when it comes to the realities of the NFL) will point to the Rams’ statistical benchmarks this past year. The Rams finished 26th in total offense and 21st in passing yards/game in the NFL in 2010. Not great stats. But if anyone actually watched the team play, you would see that they were severely limited on offense and that under Shurmur’s guidance, Sam Bradford had an incredible rookie season. That is a a HUGE mark on the plus side of the ledger for Shurmur.
Pat Shurmur is 45 years old. He’s old enough to have a great deal of NFL experience and yet young enough and inexperienced enough to need a tremendous amount of guidance from Mike Holmgren. I foresee this going a lot like the Parcells years in Miami. Parcells hired an unknown coordinator (Tony Sparano) who had tremendous experience in his system and who could act as an extension of himself. Everything Sparano did for the first few years was directed by Parcells. And who took the credit for the Dolphins turnaround? Not Tony Sparano… but the Big Tuna himself, Bill Parcells.
I honestly believe that Mike Holmgren wants to orchestrate a similar situation in Berea. Shurmur will undoubtedly lean heavily on the expertise, experience and genius of Mike Holmgren. Holmgren has an enormous ego even though it may not come across in the pressers that he has every 6 months or so. That is the primary reason that I never believed Holmgren would go after a Gruden type. Holmgren has tremendous respect and admiration for Jon Gruden, but you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think that Holmgren wants this turnaround to be driven by himself. He wants to be the genius to who turned around yet another franchise.
So Pat Shurmur, with that in mind, is a perfect fit. He believes in the same ideals, he has the experience with the system, he’s young, inexperienced, and Holmgren will be able to mold, develop, and CONTROL him. The successes that he hopefully has in Cleveland, will be largely due to Holmgren’s leadership, coaching (of the coaches) and ability to identify and recruit the coach. For Holmgren, this is just another line on his resume and another incredible bonus to his legacy. Shurmur will act out Holmgren’s plan. And if he struggles to start, it isn’t all on Holmgren. He will preach patience, system, process, and foundation. Does that sound familiar?
I honestly believe that Eric Mangini is a very good coach. But Randy Lerner never gave him a chance. First, Lerner placed far too much power and responsibility with Mangini in his first season. Mangini was not only in charge of coaching, hiring his staff, but also responsible for the draft, trades, free agency, etc. Mike Holmgren, one of the best coaches and football minds in the NFL couldn’t handle both coaching and GM responsibilities. Why would Mangini be able to handle it?
Then, Lerner brought in Mike Holmgren. Which by itself was a great move and a much needed move at that. This organization has long needed a strong and credible presence in the front office and it got it with Holmgren. But when Lerner brought Holmgren in at the beginning of Mangini’s first year, he killed any legitimate chance Mangini had at success. Holmgren knew from the onset that he wanted someone who fit the profile I detailed before. And that’s fine, it’s just a shame that Mangini was undercut by Lerner so soon.
Will Pat Shurmur become the next Jon Gruden, Sean Payton, or even Todd Haley? Who knows. But I know that he fits every measurable and even some of the intangibles that Holmgren wants. So much so, that he’s willing to sign him today after only interviewing two viable candidates. I guess we’ll soon find out just how much of a genius Holmgren can be. And Browns fans… get used to the name Pat Shurmur.
Following the Browns’ 5-11 season, most fans got what they wanted. Eric Mangini fired. Gone was the useless coach which freed up the organization to go after Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher and maybe even the walrus himself, Mike Holmgren would come downstairs and coach the team to the promised land.
Well, two weeks into the coaching search, those big name Head Coaches are yet to be found in Berea, OH. So where do we stand as of today with the search for the next Browns coach?
So far, Team President Mike Holmgren and GM Tom Heckert have interviewed Falcons Offensive Coordinator Mike Mularkey and Rams Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur. The Browns are interviewing Giants Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell today (maybe even as we speak) and although they are rumored to be interested in Eagles Offensive Coordinator Mary Morningweg, the Eagles have stated that they have not yet received a request to interview him.
Where does all that leave us? I’ll give you a quick summary and update on each of the candidates to sort through the crap.
Mularkey was the 2nd candidate interviewed last week during the Falcons’ bye week.Mularkey has had great success as an offensive coordinator, and as you’ll notice, the recurring theme is that he is an offensive minded coach with ties to Holmgren and the West Coast Offense. The Falcons are one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL and his abilities as a coordinator are not in question.
Mularkey was head coach in Buffalo from 2004-05 going 9-7 and 5-11 before resigning. Not great, not awful. There was no update on how the interview went or regarding the level of interest on either side.
Shurmur was interviewed last week in Berea and he has direct ties with GM Tom Heckert in Philadelphia. He runs the same version of the West Coast Offense that Holmgren perfected as Shurmur studied under Andy Reid (a Holmgren disciple).
Shurmur came into the interview with a strong recommendation from Reid for whom Holmgren and Heckert have enormous respect. Shurmur spent 9 seasons with the Eagles (7 as QB coach developing Donovan McNabb) and has received great praise for his work with Sam Bradford this season. Due to his strong ties with Holmgren and Heckert and his track record for developing young QB’s, Shurmur has emerged as the front-runner for the position.
I have my doubts about the legitimacy of this interview and not because I don’t think the Browns should seriously consider him. Fewell is a very good coach and he is poised to earn a head coaching job sooner than later. But Holmgren clearly wants an offensively minded coach with a West Coast background. I don’t believe Holmgren is giving serious consideration to Fewell, rather he is giving a good coach an interview (which gets his name out for other jobs) and satisfying the Rooney Rule which requires at least one minority candidate be interviewed for every Head Coaching vacancy.
Morningweg has obvious ties with the West Coast as well as with the Eagles which could make him a strong candidate. He has not been contacted and the Browns haven’t even sent in the paperwork to request an interview with him so I’m not sure how likely of a candidate he is. To me, he and Shurmur are fairly close to each other and if Shurmur blew their socks off like we’re hearing, why bother with Morningweg? Insiders still believe he will be interviewed by the Browns, but nothing has happened as of today.
That is the powerful list of coaching candidates that have been interviewed by the Browns as of today. So where are all the Super Bowl winning head coaches like Cowher and Gruden? Cowher has stated publicly that he won’t return to coaching until 2012 because he wants to spend time with his family. Gruden, at this time, doesn’t appear to be at all interested in coming back to the sidelines. Unless Holmgren can significantly persuade him, I doubt he even comes in for an interview.
So who’s the next best coach? Most believe the next best thing to a “Sexy Pick” is former Carolina Panthers Head Coach, John Fox. Fox is widely regarded as a very good NFL coach and although he has a defensive focus, he is highly regarded by Mike Holmgren. So far, no interview has been lined up, but if any of the big name head coaches are to come to Berea, I believe it will be Fox.
I don’t even mind that the Browns are staying away from the big time coaches that are out there whether it be there choice or the coach’s. I was never very high on Gruden and as we know Cowher is not coming back. And actually, the trend in the NFL is to get a good coordinator and take a chance on him as opposed to the retreads who have had previous Head Coaching experience. Look at Mike Tomlin, Raheem Morris, Mike Smith, Steve Spagnuolo, Todd Haley, Rex Ryan, Sean Payton, etc.
I still believe Eric Mangini is a good coach and he had the team on the right track, but he never stood a chance. Holmgren wanted someone from his tree, with the same philosophical beliefs and with the same focus. You can see exactly what Holmgren wants just from the initial pool of candidates. Mangini does not fit this profile and no matter what he did he was gone. I don’t agree with it, but if Holmgren had his mind made up, it’s better to cut ties now and bring in a guy you’re comfortable with for the next 5-10 years now than to waste any more time.
And hey, Shurmur fits the profile. Successful coordinator with a focus on offense and direct experience with the West Coast Offense. He’s young, appears to be smart, experienced, and Holmgren loves him. I know a lot of Browns fans will be disgusted if some guy they’ve never heard of, from the Rams with one of the worst offenses statistically gets the job when they were expecting Jon Gruden, but I love it. From what I can tell, I think he’d be a great fit. Obviously, I’m not privy to discussions with him to see how he can lead a team and all that, but he certainly fits the Holmgren profile more closely than anyone else.
I saw this story on Yahoo Sports and I can honestly say that ESPN has reached a new all-time low in integrity, professionalism, and basic human respect. In this clip, you’ll see anchor Hannah Storm and dwarf analyst, Adam Schefter openly celebrating the news of Eric Mangini’s firing on the air.
Take a look and tell me this isn’t one of the most disgusting and embarrassing displays you’ve ever seen by ESPN or any other network. Then I literally LOL’d when Hannah tried to cover it up at the end by saying that they weren’t meaning to make light of someone losing their job and having their whole family affected.
Maybe the ESPN executives should fire these two and we can sit around and cheer and have other network personalities high five and chest bump each other of pure enjoyment for someone else’s misery!
As the local media ratchets up their annual campaign to fire the Cleveland Browns Head Coach, and especially a local radio station which seems to have an inappropriate vendetta against Eric Mangini, I am going to make a case for why he should remain in place as the Browns Head Coach. Most fans have to rely on the professionalism and integrity of the media and assume what they see, hear, and read is accurate. Unfortunately, most media is incredibly biased and the truth takes a backseat to whatever agenda is on the forefront.
Honestly, if you listed to the local media in Cleveland, you would wonder why in the hell Mangini wasn’t fired last season. In fact, one local radio station did everything to lead listeners to believe that Mangini was assuredly going to be fired at the end of last season. But there are some realities that the local media will choose to ignore in order to push their agenda and vendetta.
So as a part of my case for Mangini, I’m going to debunk many of the media’s “platform arguments” that get repeated on nearly a daily basis.
One of the things I hear nearly every single day is that Mangini cannot be retained because he has an archaic and antiquated offensive philosophy that is in direct conflict with Mike Holmgren’s core beliefs. What people tend to forget, however, is that if a team that is severely deficient as far talent goes, tries to air it out like the Patriots or Saints, they will get blown out of the water on a weekly basis. Many will even point to Mangini’s idol, Bill Belichick and say that even the Hoody isn’t afraid to open up the offense and air it out. But did Belichick air it out before Tom Brady was Tom Brady? Did the Patriots have a high flying offense when they were in the building stages of their dynasty? Or even as they won 3 Super Bowls? No. Actually, the Patriots won their 3 Super Bowls based on running the football and playing stingy defense.
The Browns simply don’t have that much talent and while Colt McCoy has been promising, he’s not Tom Brady. Do you think the Browns could even stay close in a game with Jake Delhomme throwing 50 times? I don’t. For all the talk about this archaic & antiquated offensive system not being able to win in the NFL, one only needs to look to last season. Look at Mangini’s previous team, the New York Jets. Did they air it out 40 times a game? Did they even have an average passing game? Nope… but they played incredible defense and they ran the ball like crazy all the way to the AFC Championship game. People forget, but the Cincinnati Bengals swept the division and went to the playoffs last season because of an incredible running attack and great defense. Not because of Carson Palmer or Chad Ochocinco.
One of the biggest complaints last season was not just that the Browns lost, but the way in which they lost. The chief complaint was that they were not competitive and games were decided by halftime. Fast forward to this year, and the media has the same complaint. Not that the Browns are losing, but the WAY in which they are losing. Except this time, they’re complaining that they are losing close games. Nowhere is it even mentioned that they were so concerned with not being competitive last year and the Browns having a chance to win nearly every game at the end is completely ignored. That is revisionist history and is a key indicator for a vendetta.
But if the Browns threw it all across the yard without having the proper personnel and foundation in place, they would assuredly lose by 20 points a game. Instead, they played smart football that best fits the personnel that is currently in place and they were able to come extremely close to getting a few more wins against the likes of the New York Jets who are a playoff team.
Is Mangini or the coaching staff perfect? Of course not. Should they have performed better against some of the weaker teams like Buffalo and Cincinnati? Yes, but I don’t think people realize just how shallow this roster is. Ask any NFL coach how he would do if he lost his top 2 QB’s and had to rely on a 3rd string, rookie QB who wasn’t slated to play all season for a large part of the year. Ask a coach how he would do with an aging, injured, Jake Delhomme for the majority of the rest of the games. Ask a coach how he would do with literally one productive running back for an entire NFL season. Ask a coach how he would do without a #1 or even a #2 NFL WR on the roster for the entire season. Ask a coach how he would do with no true edge rushers or interior presence on defense.
People think Mangini refuses to move the ball through the air because he’s philosophically opposed to it. That is a flat out lie and people who say that are uninformed, stupid, or driving an agenda. Just look at how the Steelers and Ravens have evolved as their personnel has changed. Both were built on a power running game and great defense and both have evolved into efficient and dangerous aerial attacks. Why? Not a coaching change (yes, both had coaching changes, but the shift in paradigm began long before in Pittsburgh and after in Baltimore)… But personnel.
As the teams gained confidence in their young QB’s and surrounded them with weapons, the passing games evolved. It’s not rocket science, but the local media in Cleveland will lead you to believe that everything is static. That because Mangini believes that the best chance to win with the roster he has right now is to control the ball and keep the game close that it means that will always be the plan and that he is philosophically opposed to an aggressive, attacking offense. That’s asinine and completely false.
I don’t think people realize just how messed up this roster was when Mangini took it over from Romeo Crennel. For Romeo’s entire stint, the defensive roster was stuck half way between a 4-3 defense and half way between a 3-4 defense. Despite Romeo’s wishes, Phil Savage insisted on acquiring players best suited for a 4-3 defense. Mangini is STILL trying to solidify the identity of the roster on both sides of the ball as most of the offensive players from the previous regime aren’t even on the roster any longer.
The media will also gladly point to the disaster of a draft that was lead by Mangini in 2009. Yes, it was a complete disaster. They tend to forget, however, that they also agree that a coach should not have responsibilities over both the football team and the 53 man roster. Recent history shows us that even the best football minds simply cannot juggle the two responsibilities at the same time. So if we agree that Mangini should not have been put in charge of the entire draft that season to begin with, then it’s irrelevant. Was it awful? Yes! But it never should have happened and it will never happen again going forward so it shouldn’t be relevant in the analysis. Period.
The media has also pointed out several times that Browns fans shouldn’t be patient with the team or Mangini as there are other examples of quick turnarounds in the NFL. Yes there are, but none that are apples to apples. People want to point to Kansas City or St. Louis this season and wonder why it needs to take the Browns 3 seasons to improve. Well, if you take 2 seconds and use your brain, think about the divisions that these teams all play in. Do you think it’s easier to improve in the AFC & NFC West or in the AFC North against Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati? The roster situations are also not equal in most examples as this again demonstrates that most people don’t realize how bad the Browns roster is from top to bottom. Sure, there are tons of bright spots, but the holes that do exist are huge and it’s amazing to me how well Eric Mangini has done in covering them up when you think about it.
There are other deficiencies in the coaching staff, sure. But most can be attributed the coaches trying to cover up for the holes in the roster. Last week the local media went crazy about the Browns clock management to end the first half. Mangini made it clear that he was trying to minimize the time remaining for the Ravens because he doesn’t trust his defense. The media will lead you to believe that this is how Mangini will always operate, regardless of talent.
No, Mangini made this decision because of the holes on the defenses. That was the best decision to keep his team in the game. Period. To even suggest, let alone state as fact that he is philosophically fixed toward these types of conservative decisions is disingenuous and incorrect. Mangini is charged with making the best decisions that give his team a chance to win. Look at the roster. Bill Belichick would coach this exact team much, much differently than he coaches his current Patriots roster. That’s just a fact and unfortunately, it’s a fact that most fans won’t realize because of the media agenda. If you don’t think Mangini would coach the team differently as he gets more talent, you’re probably not looking at it objectively.
If you have a personal dislike for Mangini, which many people do, that’s fine. But please don’t fall into the trap that the local media has set for 2 years now. Is Mangini perfect? Absolutely not. But he’s a damn good coach and he has tried to the right thing by building this team with a solid structure and foundation instead of mortgaging the team’s future in an attempt to win right away. In the long-term, the team will be better off on the course Mangini has set us on and I honestly hope he gets a chance to see it through. The Browns have had a new Head Coach literally every other year since their return to the NFL in 1999. Just look at the Steelers to see what stability, patience, and longevity can do for a franchise.
Is it possible that Mike Holmgren moves on Eric Mangini? Sure. But it won’t be because he doesn’t think Mangini will allow an effective offensive game. It won’t be because he thinks Mangini is too conservative. If there is a guy that Holmgren has a relationship with (i.e., Jon Gruden) and thinks that he just cannot pass up the chance to lock him up, then he might make a move and I can’t blame him for that. But I can guarantee you that he’s not going to make a change because he thinks Mangini will coach the team exactly the same way no matter what roster he has to work with. Eric Mangini is a good football coach and he’s an incredibly intelligent man. If given the requisite time, he will continue to build this team the right way alongside Mike Holmgren.