NFL Teams Need to Stay Away from Mike Holmgren Whether He's Interested or Not
From Ed Werder and ESPN:
"If anyone is interested, I'll listen," said Holmgren, who indicated he will not aggressively pursue job openings.
After leaving the Cleveland Browns front office after the team's ownership change, he has relocated to Arizona, where the Cardinals fired Ken Whisenhunt. Holmgren declined to reveal which teams might interest him or whether he has been contacted about openings.
The problem, of course, with being interested in coaching a team is that a team has to be interested in letting you be its coach. Holmgren could release a press release saying that he's interested in dating Kate Upton and it would mean just as much.
Holmgren telling his media buds he's open to coaching jobs is like Wink Martindale telling old H'wood scribes he's open to hosting X Factor.— P. Schrager (@PSchrags) January 1, 2013
Unless, that is, Rip Van Winkle has been hired as general manager of one of the teams in the NFL and has no memories of Holmgren since 2005.
Let's break down what Holmgren has done in the NFL.
In San Francisco, he became known as one of the league's elite quarterback gurus. He also learned under Bill Walsh and George Seifert, which is like getting one's doctorate in coaching.
Then, Holmgren went to Green Bay and had fantastic success. He won a Super Bowl, posted a 67 percent winning record and mentored a generation's worth of coaches that went on to plenty of success elsewhere.
Then, he left Green Bay and things were never quite the same.
The times weren't all horrible in Seattle—the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl in 2005—but he was clearly overmatched in the personnel department and the team terminated him as general manager in 2002.
Super Bowl aside, it's important to remember that Holmgren's time in Seattle dropped his career winning percentage from that lofty 67 percent down to 59. According to Pro Football Reference, that's the difference between the 13th-best coach and the 37th.
To put names to those numbers, that's the difference between Paul Brown and Andy Reid.
Don't forget his time in Cleveland, either. As "football czar," Holmgren failed to accomplish anything of note with the Browns and his proteges—Pat Shurmur and Tom Heckert—are looking for work.
Honestly, both Shurmur and Heckert are incredibly more attractive candidates than Holmgren.
The reason why teams might be intrigued by Holmgren is intricately connected to that coaching tree I mentioned earlier. The NFL is, in many ways, an old boys' club. Football coaches, especially likeable ones, are given more than nine lives in the NFL as scouts and assistants they once mentored climb up the ranks.
In one sense, it's a fantastic award for success in an otherwise "what have you done for me lately" business. On the other hand, it's what keeps 60- and 70-year-old men plugging along when they're past their prime rather than giving the next generation a chance.
This is a young man's game and it's worth asking if a 64-year-old Holmgren has the stamina and drive to put in the 15-hour, seven-day weeks that are needed to put a struggling team back over the top.
It's also worthwhile to mention that the game may have passed Holmgren by. The coaches he mentored—Jon Gruden, Marty Mornhinweg, Dick Jauron, Andy Reid, Steve Mariucci and others—are mostly working in TV or out of work. The West Coast system isn't the mysterious or dogmatic system it once was.
Could Holmgren succeed in the right situation with talented players and an All-Star group of former head coaches and coordinators? Of course. Is it likely? Probably not. Is it a less likely route than one of the many excellent coaching candidates out there? Almost certainly.
Holmgren can be interested all he wants, NFL teams need to stay away.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route.
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