“We are pleased to announce that Mike Holmgren has agreed to join the Cleveland Browns,” Lerner said in a statement. “We will spend the rest of the week finalizing the details of the agreement and will make a formal announcement next week.”
Cleveland’s struggles since their heyday in the 1950’s with legendary Hall of Famer's Paul Brown (head coach) and RB Jim Brown is well documented.
From never playing in a Super Bowl to former owner Art Modell moving his franchise to Baltimore to the team’s re-emergence as an expansion team in 1999 to poor drafting decisions (see former No. 1 overall busts QB Tim Couch and DE Courtney Brown), so the 61-year-old former head coach will have his work cut out for him.
It will be interesting to see if Holmgren—regular season coaching record of 161-111 and a playoff record of 13-11 over 17 years—is ready to solely be an architect where he will be called on to make all personnel decisions.
In Green Bay during Holmgren’s Super Bowl winning tenure, he worked under GM Ron Wolf. Then in Seattle, Holmgren was the head coach and GM until being stripped of his GM duties before the 2005 season, when ironically the Seahawks made the Super Bowl.
The key factor for me will be whether Holmgren decides to keep Browns first year head coach Eric Mangini and his staff in place or go with someone that he is more familiar with. Though some are saying that Mangini was spared the indignation of a one-and-done season with the Browns (3-11) due to his team’s recent two-game winning streak including a huge win over hated rival the Pittsburgh Steelers, I still am not sure.
There are the two big negatives since both Mangini and Holmgren have pretty large egos and they also have “zero” familiarity together. We will have to see as the regular season closes and teams make changes come “Black Monday” if Mangini will be on the outside looking in at that point. My gut-feeling is that Man-genius will be at the Senior Bowl (week of Jan. 26) looking for a job.
Some interesting subplots to the Holmgren hiring are:
- The Browns have been informed that former GM George Kokinis has filed for arbitration with the NFL claiming he was unjustly fired. Kokinis was dismissed on in November after only nine months on the job, and he is seeking more than $4 million in compensation and damages.
- With the hiring of Holmgren, Browns owner Randy Lerner has moved current president Mike Keenan to the role of Chief Financial Officer.
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).