The Cleveland Browns have a wonderful tradition. With names that are synonymous with greatness Hall Of Famers Otto Graham, Marion Motley, Ozzie Newsome, Paul Warfield, Gene Hickerson and Dante Lavelli. Who could forget the CB duo of Frank Minnifield & Hanford Dixon, or founder and coach Paul Brown and arguably the greatest running back to play in the NFL Jim Brown.
But since the Browns came back in existence in 1998 there has not been to many bright spots for the Browns. In fact the tradition of losing has over shadowed the Browns glorious past. The Dawg Pound hasn't had much to cheer for, and that is a crying shame.
But today, I think the fortune of the Browns have changed. Today Mike Holmgren takes over the Browns (officially) as team President.
Mike Holmgren is exactly what the Browns need to turn around their franchise. He brings credibility, structure, fear, and a winning game plan. Holmgren has learned under Bill Walsh and Ron Wolf, two of the NFL's most brilliant minds and knows what it takes to build a winning team.
But some will ask how can I say that Holmgren can build a winning team when he failed as a GM in Seattle? After all he was "advised" to bring in Ted Thompson (now the Packers GM) to help out with decision-making and scouting.
But Holmgren was also the coach and was busy with game planning, practices, team meetings and the everyday tasks a head coach has to do. He could not balance the two jobs, so having someone handle the GM's daily task was a must.
Now though, it is a different story. Holmgren can now focus solely on rebuilding the Browns as the team's President.
Holmgren will first have to decide two things, 1. Who will be the Browns GM? And 2. will he keep Eric Mangini as the head coach?
The first will be decided by the end of the week with the likely hiring of Philadelphia Eagles general manager Tom Heckert. The two will meet on Wednesday to discuss the job, but many feel it is a foregone conclusion that Heckert will get the job. Both Holmgren and Heckert share the same agent, Bob LeMonte, and Heckert knows what type of players Holmgren wants since he has worked with Holmgren prodigè Andy Reid.
The second question will also be answered no later than next Monday. Many, including myself, feel that Mangini will be let go. The two will meet on Wednesday (January 6th) and possibly again later in the week (when Heckert is officially hired). Holmgren wants to have a coach that will run the "west coach offense" and with the Browns poor performance on offense, no one could argue with Holmgren's thought process.
A couple names to keep in mind are current Eagles offensive coordinator and former Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg, former 49ers and Lions head coach Steve Mariucci. Both have ties to Holmgren and share the same philosophy, not to mention both already have that great relationship with Holmgren, which is something that he believes needs to be in place in order to have success.
When it comes to the current Browns roster, Holmgren has some work to do. He has to decide what to do with current QB's Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. Is either of the two the Browns future at QB or will he trade one and draft a QB to compete for the starting spot with the cast over?
The Browns do have 11 picks in the upcoming draft so he will have flexibility to move up if he wants a player or trade back and add more picks to increase the likely hood of hitting on a draft pick.
Holmgren does have some talent on the Browns with Josh Cribbs, Joe Thomas, D'Qwell Jackson, Eric Wright and James Harrison to name a few. But that is not enough and he will attempt to upgrade the roster depth as a whole.
Look for Holmgren to give Cribbs that new deal he wants. Holmgren has always said he has no problem rewarding players if they deserve it, and even with 3 years remaining on Cribbs current contract, he deserves it. In fact, Cribbs agent and Holmgren have had conversations recently about a deal, though nothing is imminent.
Mike Holmgren's track record in the NFL is one of a winner. He was a major part of the Green Bay Packers return to glory in the 90's and he also turned around the Seattle Seahawks. Everywhere he has been they team has been turned around, and I expect the same outcome in Cleveland.
"Big Dawg'' Thompson and the Dawg Pound will have a lot to cheer for in the upcoming years while they sit back and watch "The Big Show" in primetime every Sunday.