The Mike Holmgren era officially began in Berea today and the next few weeks will probably be a dynamic time for the Browns organization. Holmgren will probably make a decision regarding Eric Mangini in the upcoming days. He also must hire a GM and build a scouting department for the draft and free agency.
I am a staunch supporter of keeping Mangini. I think he has changed the team culture and proven to the players that they can win against more talented teams by playing smart disciplined football. I certainly understand if Holmgren chooses to move on with a new head coach.
Regardless, the Browns organization and team will be quite different when they take the field next year.
Without speculating on the Mangini situation or the possible GM candidates, I predict the following things happening in the offseason.
1. Brian Daboll fired
Holmgren, an offensive-minded guru, will want to bring in a coach to run a West coast style offense. Daboll runs a ball-control, run-first offense. Even if Mangini stays, this will most likely happen.
2. Keep Rob Ryan
The Browns went from 17 sacks a year ago to 40 sacks this season. They also played with fire and passion down the stretch. The players believe in Ryan, and he is popular with the fans.
Ryan has experience with almost every form of defense and can easily switch to a 4-3 if required.
3. Jim Zorn hired as offensive coordinator
Zorn's recent unemployment and Holmgren's need for a coordinator are too convenient. This also leads me to my next point...
4. Sign restricted free agent Jason Campbell
Jason Campbell has run the West coast in Washington under Jim Zorn for several years now. This season, he passed for 3600 yards and 20 touchdowns. He completed 64.5 percent of his passes. His 86.4 QB rating was 15th in the league and ahead of both Carson Palmer and Matt Ryan.
He went most the year without Chris Cooley, his favorite target, and with an oft-injured and aging Clinton Portis.
5. Draft Joe Haden
I still think Sam Bradford would be an excellent draft choice, but I believe that Shanahan will use the fifth pick in Washington to draft Bradford. Haden helps shore up a secondary that needs help. Haden has the makings of a shut-down corner and has excellent tackling skills. Visions of Dixon-Minnifield.
6. Trade for Kerry Rhodes
Rhodes, who has had problems with the new coaching staff in New York, would be a great addition to the safety corps. Rhodes is the type of ball-hawk, hard-hitting safety the Browns need. Plus, he would complete the secondary transformation (Wright, Haden, Elam, and Rhodes as starters with Adams and McDonald as nickel and dime guys).
7. Sign Kevin Walter
Walter would give the receiving corps a veteran presence and a reliable set of hands.
8. Draft a right tackle in the second round
This draft class is deep in talented offensive tackles and one of the better tackles should slip to the Browns in the second round. Teams seldom use a first round pick for a right tackle.