NFL 2012: Six Reasons Cleveland Browns Prez Mike Holmgren Is on the Hot Seat
Six reasons that Mike Holmgren is on the hot seat, or maybe the number nine should somehow be worked into that headline.
That's because since taking over as Browns team president, the team has gone just 9-23. It wasn't supposed to be like this. Holmgren, who took teams in Green Bay and Seattle to the Super Bowl, was supposed to come into town and turn the once proud franchise back into a winner. Instead, the Browns have spun their wheels and now the loyal fan-base is getting antsy.
The upcoming NFL Draft will be huge for Holmgren and his handpicked general manager Tom Heckert. Cleveland has the No. 4 and No. 22 pick in the first round, and three of the first 37 picks. Cleveland fans are expecting nothing less than a home run.
They are also expecting a dramatic improvement on last year's paltry win total of four.
If things don't turnaround quick, Holmgren, Heckert and Browns head coach Pat Shurmur could find themselves out of jobs. Owner Randy Lerner will have to do something. Fan interest is high, but some have taken to not showing up to games. At the end of last season, many were disguising themselves as the orange seats which fill Cleveland Browns Stadium.
So here is a look at some of Holmgren's missteps that have made him be viewed in such an unfavorable light by many Browns fans.
Should He Have Stayed or Should He Have Gone?
When Holmgren took over in Cleveland, he was faced with the decision of whether or not to fire the team's coach at the time, Eric Mangini. Holmgren decided to give Mangini a chance and the team went 5-11. At that point, Holmgren decided to can Mangini and go with Pat Shurmur.
Many fans believe that by keeping Mangini on for the extra season, it did nothing but waste a year of rebuilding. Under Shurmur, the Browns opted to go with a West Coast offense, and also went from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense.
No Friend of the Media
When your team is losing games, you probably don't want to alienate an already critical local media. But that is exactly what Holmgren has done.
It started off when Holmgren, who had not made himself available to the local press for much of the 2011 regular season, opted to give an interview to a radio station in Seattle.
That was followed by a disastrous press conference with reporters in which he told the scribes and broadcasters that "you're either with us or you're not," and followed that up by telling them not to come to him for playoff tickets when the team did reach the postseason.
The quotes came out of a press conference in which Holmgren was explaining why the Browns put Colt McCoy back into a game against the Steelers after the quarterback suffered a concussion. The concussion came during a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit with James Harrison. Holmgren explained that nobody on the Browns sideline or in the press box saw the hit, which occurred during a Thursday night nationally televised contest.
Nobody bought Holmgren's explanation.
Missed Chance to Get the Can't-Miss Kid
Many who follow the Browns thought the best way to resuscitate the team's pitiful offense while invigorating a sagging fan-base, would be to move up to the No. 2 spot in the draft and draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The Browns seemed to have all the ammunition to pull off such a deal with the St. Louis Rams. However, the Washington Redskins were able to outbid the Browns, according to ProFootballTalk.com. and steal away the Heisman Trophy winner.
Holmgren cried foul, saying the reason St. Louis took Washington's offer over Cleveland was because St. Louis Coach Jeff Fisher was chummy with Washington Coach Mike Shanahan. To many, that just came off sounding like sour grapes.
Holmgren was never able to come to terms with running back Peyton Hillis on a contract extension. After the 2011 season, Hillis walked away and signed with Kansas City. Many wondered how the Browns, who finished 28th in the league in rushing in 2011, could allow Hillis to leave.
In 2010, Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 TDs and caught 61 passes for 477 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, he battled injuries in 2011, and was involved in controversy as well. He sat out a game with strep throat after being advised to do so by his agent. But remember this, Cleveland is a blue-collar town and the Browns fan-base took a liking to the hard-running style of Hillis.
If he goes to Kansas City and produces, and the Browns ground game struggles again in 2012, Holmgren will have plenty of explaining to do.
Chilly Fan Reaction to Browns Pursuit of Free Agents
When the time came to sign free agents, many expected the Browns to go after a wide receiver, a running back and maybe even after Houston's defensive-stud Mario Williams. Instead, the Browns signed former Bengals' defensive lineman Frostee Rucker. For a fan base that was hoping to pick up someone like Pierre Garcon to help out a struggling receiving corps, or maybe running back Michael Bush to make up for the loss of Peyton Hillis, the offseason has been a big disappointment.
Was He Ready?
Browns head coach Pat Shurmur was ripped constantly all year. It started with the opening-week loss to Cincinnati, when the Browns defense was caught in the huddle and the Bengals took advantage with an uncontested touchdown.
Shurmur's game plans and play calling earned constant criticism for lack of imagination. Shurmur went 4-12 and 0-6 against AFC North rivals in his first year, and NFL.com has already touted him as one of the league's coaches on the hot seat. Holmgren's been criticized for hiring a coach who wasn't ready to lead a franchise.