Mike Holmgren: Why Cleveland Browns Fans' Excitement Should Be Tempered

Steve TaterCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Head coach Mike Holmgren of the Seattle Seahawks walks onto the field for warmups before the game with the Arizona Cardinals on December 28, 2008 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The rumor mill is swirling now that Mike Holmgren has officially met with Cleveland Browns’ owner Randy Lerner to fill their vacant general manager position.

It very well might be a ruse by Holmgren to garner leverage for another position. But if he and Lerner are serious dancing partners, Cleveland Browns fans seem to be willing participants.

By all accounts, the move would be lauded by Browns fans. There is an air of excitement in northeast Ohio over the potential hiring of one of the great head football coaches in recent memory.

Holmgren certainly brings with him instant credibility as someone who has won a Super Bowl and coached in another.

As a coach, he is a highly respected quarterback guru and is well known for his role in mentoring Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre, and Matt Hasselbeck.

His sterling reputation as an offensive play-caller is well deserved. His teams in Green Bay and Seattle were usually among the league leaders in points and yardage.

Aside from his accomplishments, Holmgren is generally well liked around the league.

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He also has a confident, but not cocky, persona. He is the kind of leader that most fans can get behind.

If, in fact, Holmgren is signed to be the new face of the franchise, many Cleveland fans will be happy (for now).

But I would like to temper the enthusiasm just a bit.

Remember, Holmgren is not being hired to be a coach...something he is extremely good at.

Instead, he is being hired to be the man in charge of the draft and player acquisitions. In that role, his results are mixed.

As an example I ask this question, “Would you want the world’s most renowned back surgeon to be performing open heart surgery on you?”

A neurologist and a cardiologist are both doctors. But they are specialists in two entirely different practices of medicine.

With the Packers, Ron Wolf was the man responsible for the draft. Those players won a Super Bowl.

While with Seattle, Holmgren’s teams were perennial playoff contenders. But it wasn’t until Holmgren’s duties as general manager were taken away from him that the team reached a Super Bowl.

He was responsible for the trade that brought the franchise quarterback (Matt Hasselbeck) to the Seahawks. But his decisions on draft day have been questionable at best.

Holmgren was responsible for six drafts from 1999 to 2001. Here are the results:


1/22     Lamar King, DE

3/77     Brock Huard, QB

3/82     Karsten Bailey, WR

4/115   Antonio Cochran, DE

5/140   Floyd Wedderburn, OT

5/152   Charlie Rogers, WR

6/170   Steve Johnson, CB


1/19     Shawn Alexander, RB

1/22     Chris McIntosh, OT

2/52     Ike Charlton, CB

3/80     Darrell Jackson, WR

4/116   Marcus Bell, LB

4/119   Isaiah Kacyvenski, LB

6/175   James Williams, WR

6/185   Tim Watson, DT

6/190   John Hilliard, DT


1/9       Koren Robinson, WR

1/17     Steve Hutchinson, OG

2/40     Ken Lucas, S

3/82     Heath Evans, RB

4/104   Orlando Huff, LB

4/127   Chris Fuller, DB

4/128   Floyd Womack, OG

5/140   Alex Bannister, WR

6/172   Josh Booty, QB

7/210   Harold Blackmon, DB

7/222   Dennis Norman, OT

7/237   Kris Kocurek, DT


1/28     Jerramy Stevens, TE

2/54     Maurice Morris, RB

2/60     Anton Palepoi, DE

3/85     Kris Richard, DB

4/120   Terreal Bierria, DB

5/146   Rocky Bernard, DT

5/169   Ryan Hannam, TE

5/171   Matt Hill, OT

6/194   Craig Jarrett, P

7/232   Jeff Kelly, QB

Holmgren was a combined two-for-six in the first round. While .333 is a fantastic batting average in baseball, it is not a particularly strong showing when it comes to picking NFL talent.

Overall, he has had some successes. Steve Hutchinson and Shaun Alexander come to mind.

But he has completely whiffed on a number of high draft choices—i.e., Lamar King, Brock Huard, Karsten Bailey, Chris McIntosh, Ike Charlton, Koren Robinson, Heath Evans, Jerramy Stevens, Maurice Morris, and Anton Palepoi.

He had a tendency to draft players with exceptional athletic ability but poor character. And as a result, those players have not worked out.

Maybe Holmgren has learned from his mistakes. It is possible that handling the dual roles as coach and general manager were just too much.

Holmgren has an exceptional mind for the game of football. He may very well turn this franchise around.

From a pure public relations standpoint, he would be a brilliant hire. It would be a great way for Randy Lerner to placate the fanbase, given their instant hatred of head coach Eric Mangini.

But before Cleveland fans start throwing a ticker-tape parade to usher in the new savior, it might be wise to hold off on the party favors.

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