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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Mike Holmgren”

The curtain drops on the Big Show in Cleveland

The Mike Holmgren era has officially come to a close, with Holmgren announcing that Friday will be his last day on the job as “official” president of the Cleveland Browns.

Holmgren has been unofficially off the job ever since Joe Banner took over as CEO (some would say he’s been off since being hired by former owner Randy Lerner almost three years ago).

“This is a great football city,” Holmgren said. “All of the things I said in my opening press conference came true in that way and I fully expect the team to do great things in the future. Those who have been covering the team for a long time can really enjoy it.

Read more…

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Big Show couldn’t win with the Browns – on or off the field

The Mike Holmgren era ended on Tuesday in Cleveland, not with a bang but with a bit of a wimper.

Holmgren held his final press conference as team president of the Cleveland Browns and, while he will stay on through the end of the season in a transitional role, his time is definitely up.

“I want to feel like I’m contributing,” Holmgren said. “My emphasis is going to be in the football side of it. I don’t have to do the business stuff anymore. If I can help one player be a little better this season or one coach be a little better with some of the things that I know how to do and I feel like I’m contributing, then that could happen. We’re just going to take it a day at a time and see how it goes.”

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Holmgren speaks, but is anyone listening?

Cleveland Browns team president Mike Holmgren spoke to the media on Wednesday about the manufactured controversy surrounding Colt McCoy’s concussion and showed more piss and vinegar with the media than the Browns have shown on the field this year.

While the headlines will scream “Browns did not test McCoy for concussion” the reality is far different.

According to Holmgren, team doctors did not administer the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool 2 test because McCoy “was talking, answering, knew how much time was left. So, following our normal protocol, (his responses) did not dictate they administer the test.”

Just as important, when McCoy started feeling strange after the game, he was seen by trainer Joe Sheehan who sent him to a doctor. That doctor administered a concussion test, which McCoy passed.

After returning home, McCoy’s conditioned worsened and he was diagnosed with a concussion on Friday.

Holmgren explained the team’s decision to not talk until Wednesday because they were meeting with NFL and NFLPA officials about the situation.

“There’s a lot of speculation, there’s a lot of things that have been written and said and the reason that we’ve waited as an organization to have this meeting is that we had to have those other meetings before so I wouldn’t say something and then I’d have to come back and change it,” Holmgren said. “Now, we’ve had those meetings so now here it is. I also want to comment that on the schedule and how we have these, it’s going to be our decision. It’s not going to be your decision.”

Holmgren’s going to get roasted by the local media for that last part, but he’s right. He doesn’t have to put on an act like a dancing monkey just because the media starts whining.

He also made a very important point that – the current regime simply can’t be held responsible for what went on before they arrived in Berea.

“The problem is and the tough thing for you guys and our fans is it seems it’s business as usual, which is very easy to write and say, but I’m telling you that it’s not,” Holmgren said. “You can choose to believe me or you can say, ‘I’ve heard it before.’ That’s your choice, but when it does happen, don’t come to me for extra tickets to a playoff game or something. Don’t do that. You’re either with us or you’re not. I’m telling you it’s different now.”

In hindsight the Browns obviously should not have let McCoy return to the game. And they certainly didn’t do a good job earlier in the week explaining the situation – they should have gotten out in front of the story by explaining the upcoming meeting with league and union officials.

And if you are one of the fans who is predisposed to thinking everything the Browns do is wrong, then it really doesn’t matter what Holmgren says because your mind is already made up.

But to think the team intentionally ignored an injured player and put him back in the game is preposterous and not supported with any kind of facts.

One final thought: Why are the Steelers getting a pass on all this? Why isn’t someone in the media demanding that Art Rooney II come forward and explain why they continue to let James Harrison act the way he does on the field? Somehow they get a pass because the Rooneys are an “old football family that does things the right way.”

Just another reason to hate the Steelers.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

Serenity now, Browns fans

Repeat after us, Browns fans: it’s only five games.

Five games into the season. Five games that Pat Shurmur has been a head coach in the NFL. Five games into a season with a new offensive and defensive system that has been installed without the benefit of a full off-season program (think the Browns could have used the approximately 1,000 snaps of practice lost to the lockout?)

Five games.

The hair-pulling has begun in earnest among Browns fans. Some have already hit the panic button, ready to bench the quarterback or fire the coach. Some revisionists are pining for the return of former coach Eric Mangini and his 10-22 record.

That’s the kind of thinking that, in the past, has put the Browns in the situation they find themselves in. That’s how you end up with:

  • Tim Couch becoming the starter at halftime of the first game of the season.
  • Or how you hand out big contracts to players who don’t fit the system (Corey Williams) who have had only half a good season (Derek Anderson).
  • And how you hire a coach before a general manager.
  • It’s also how you end up with two ex-coaches and two ex-general managers still on the payroll.

The Browns have finally put the correct structure in place. Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Shurmur are all pulling in the same direction, share the same idea on the offensive and defensive systems the team will play, and know the type of players that are required for those systems.

And they should blow it up after just five games? Why? Because the Browns are “just” 2-3?

We are fully convinced that the process the Browns are using is absolutely the right way to go. Everyone has a clearly defined role to play, everyone is working toward the same goal, the team is building around young players and draft picks; it’s all the right way.

Will the end result be one that Browns fans can cheer? That chapter still has to be written, maybe not for another two or three years.

Of the three, Heckert is really the only one who we know can perform his job in a capable fashion. The jury is still out on Holmgren and Shurmur. Mistakes can still be made, things can fall apart and, as we’ve seen repeatedly over the years in this town, just because you’re a decent coordinator doesn’t mean you have what it takes to be a good head coach.

What we don’t want is a repeat of 2007, where the combination of a few lucky bounces and a soft schedule created the mirage that was a 10-6 season. We don’t want the Browns to be the flavor of the month in the NFL – think San Francisco and Detroit this year – but rather a team that consistently competes for the division title.

More importantly, Holmgren is not firing Shurmur – especially after only one year on the job. It was easy to fire Mangini, Holmgren didn’t hire him. But Holmgren’s sucess as team president is tied to Shurmur’s success as head coach. If Shurmur fails, that means Holmgren failed in hiring him, so short of Shurmur doing something off the field to embarrass the organization, he’s not going anywhere for a few years.

The Browns need time to work this all out. This isn’t a game of Madden football – we can’t just continually hit reset if we don’t like how things are playing out.

When it comes to the current state of the Browns, we’re reminded of this phrase from the Cadet Prayer at West Point: “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”

The Browns are currently taking the harder right. All we can do is go along for the ride and hope for the best.

To hear what Holmgren had to say today: Part 1 & Part 2

That’s a lot of beef

First-round draft pick Phil Taylor was finally on the practice field for the Browns on Thursday.

“I feel great just to be out there with the guys practicing and learning a new defense,” Taylor said in published reports. “I’ve played in the 4-3 my whole college career. So it’s not that hard.”

When Taylor (338 pounds) lines up next to Ahtyba Rubin (315 lbs.) at the tackle positions in the Browns new 4-3 defense, that’s a combined 653 lbs. waiting to rip into opposing quarterbacks.

“(We’re) two big, beefy guys in the middle just focused on stuffing (the) run and at the same time trying to get to the passer,” Rubin told The Beacon Journal. “I believe Phil’s a pretty good pass rusher, and we’ve just gotta wait and see what happens. I’m excited.”

“We can be a good tandem here,” Taylor told The Plain Dealer. “We can be real good. With this AFC North, there’s a lot of good teams who know how to run the ball. You’ve got to anchor down and stop the run.”

Somewhere in a dorm room in Latrobe, Pa., Ben Rothlisberger just soiled himself at the thought of that.

***

Sirius NFL Radio was at Browns training camp today, which is always a good time.

While we didn’t get to hear as much as we would have liked, we did catch the interview with rookie tight end Jordan Cameron.

Hosts Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan were very complimentary of Cameron, talking about his route running and ability to gain separation from his defender.

Because Ben Watson has been sidelined this week with a concussion, and Evan Moore was not eligible to practice until Thursday because of the new NFL labor rules, Cameron has been thrown into the mix.

While he’s certainly not going to be a starter on Opening Day, but those additional reps that he gained this week will only help down the road.

***

Team president Mike Holmgren was also on the show and talked about the squad’s running backs.

He said he’s confident the team will be able to run the ball with the trio of Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jackson and Montario Hardesty, but that the team also needs rookie fullback Owen Marecic to lead the way on the ground

Holmgren said he expects Marecic to be up to the challenge and he better be right. Letting Lawrence Vickers go in free agency was one of the biggest gambles the team made in the off-season, and if Marecic can’t blow up linebackers the ground game is not going anywhere.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

Holmgren to fans: Keep Calm & Carry On

Browns President Mike Holmgren met the media on Monday and delivered a message to Browns fan that can be paraphrased as “keep calm and carry on.”

Holmgen said it’s “business as usual” for the team during the lockout.

“It is our feeling and hope that we will play football games [this season],” Holmgren told The Plain Dealer. “We’ve worked very, very hard to begin to establish a program that will win and we are proceeding along those lines.”

”I realize what I’m asking the Cleveland Browns fans to do because they’ve probably heard somebody say, ‘Hey, hang in there,’ for a little bit of time now. But in trying to be real straight with them, I am very, very encouraged about the direction of the football team,” Holmgren told The Beacon Journal. “This will get done, and we will play again. Stay rooting for your favorite team. It’s OK to get frustrated and ticked off on occasion, but the beauty of it is you’ll be there when the good times come.”

Good times? In Cleveland? Sign us up!

The problem is, no one knows when we will see football again. We’re still confident that, someway, there will be a season this fall, but no one really knows what impact the work stoppage will have on the Browns as they install new offensive and defensive systems.

Wisely, the Browns made sure quarterback Colt McCoy received a copy of the playbook before teams had to cut off contact with the players, which should pay off once teams can start practicing again.

“You can visualize yourself doing it and I think he can,” coach Pat Shurmur told The Plain Dealer. “When he gets more and more schooled in our approach, I think it’ll become more familiar and hopefully he’ll be happier and happier about it.

“I think he has the attributes that will make him a good quarterback in any system, especially our system. First and foremost is decision-making. If you have a guy that’s a bad decision-maker, he’ll always break your heart. But Colt’s a good decision-maker.”

We want to believe it’s just football and, since this is the NFL, the players will be able to pick up the new system somewhat easily. Shurmur sounds like he believes that to be the case.

“I guess I’m looking at it more as the glass as half-full than empty,” Shurmur said. “I feel as though the systems we’re teaching are proven. I’ve seen them be taught in a short amount of time. I’m not anxious about it.”

Well, that makes one of us, although it’s good to know the coaching staff isn’t in a panic.

***

Staying in Berea, Holmgren has some in a tizzy because he’s doing the proper thing by scouting and evaluating available college players – even quarterbacks.

“I think with our due diligence as an organization and a personnel department, it’s our obligation to evaluate the best players coming out of college football,” Holmgren said. “Cam Newton is one of those and so, yes, we are looking hard. It’s fun for me anyway; I’ve told you this before.”

This is a good thing; we’re not sure why some can’t see that.

***

Speaking of doing their due diligence, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller will reportedly visit the Browns in April.

After his strong combine and pro day, Miller is earning a lot of interest among the teams at the top of the draft and is considered by many the top linebacker in the draft.

***

Finally, happy birthday to Liverpool FC!

The club was founded on this day in 1892 by John Houlding, owner of the Anfield stadium. Houlding needed a team for the grounds following a disagreement with Everton that saw the Toffees move to Goodison Park, so Houlding started Liverpool.

Eighteen league titles and five European Cups later, the club is still going strong.

What do the Browns have in Pat Shurmur?

Now the the exhaustive search is over, the press conference is finished and the deed is done, Browns fans are left wondering just what the team has in new head coach Pat Shurmur.

We watched the press conference and listened to what Shurmur, team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert had to say. We’ve read the stories and blogs and we’re still not sure what the Browns have. After everything, we’re left with a feeling of … extreme neutrality … a preponderance of beige, perhaps.

Part of the problem is that once the Browns decided to fire Eric Mangini and move in another direction, it was easier to focus on who we didn’t want coaching the Browns, rather than who we did:

  • Jon Gruden: overrated
  • John Fox: mediocre coach
  • Bill Cowher: never going to happen
  • Jim Harbaugh: college coaches fail miserably at the NFL level

And with no “hot” coordinator on the market, we were left feeling lukewarm about the potential candidates. Unfortunately, being on the fan side of the equation means we don’t know what Shurmur or the other two candidates the Browns interviewed – Mike Mularkey and Perry Fewell – were like during the interview process. We don’t have an opportunity to be sold on a potential coach the way a team does.

The same thing happened in Pittsburgh when Mike Tomlin was hired. Tomlin wasn’t a big name – in his one year as defensive coordinator in Minnesota the Vikings were last in pass defense – but he was impressive in the interview and got the job.

Have the Browns finally found their Mike Tomlin? Only time will tell. Of course, would Mike Tomlin still be coaching in Pittsburgh if he didn’t have Dick LeBeau as his defensive coordinator?

That hits at the heart of the Browns on-going problem with constant turnover in the coach’s office: the Steelers are successful because they have talented players, certainly, but also because they have a system in place and they select players that fit the system. They don’t switch philosophies every few years, necessitating continued turnover of the roster.

This is where Shurmur needs to make his mark.

Right or wrong, real or perceived, Holmgren made the decision that his philosophy could not mesh with Mangini’s. There’s something to be said for having everyone 100 percent on the same page if the Browns are going to finally be a team that can compete on an annual basis.

If Holmgren knows the type of players that fit the West Coast offense, and Heckert knows how to find those players, and Shurmur knows how to coach them, then the Browns are on the right track.

There is no such thing as a universal right or wrong offense or defense to run. The right offense (or defense) for a particular team is the one that maximizes the abilities of the players on a certain team. If the Browns decide they are going to run the West Coast offense, and everyone involved knows how to get the players needed and coach them properly, then that’s the right offense for this team.

For all the talk about how the AFC North is a smash mouth division, the other three teams in the division pass the ball a lot. In Saturday’s playoff game, Pittsburgh threw the ball 32 times while Baltimore threw it 30.

Not exactly three yards and a cloud of dust yesterday at Heinz Field.

The one part of Shurmur’s introductory press conference that we keep going back to was when he talked about how he sees the coach’s role as that of an educator: “We take highly motivated, talented people and then we teach them to do very basic tasks, then we tie it all together. Then we go out and let you folks evaluate it and try to have those tasks point to efficient football and winning. The foundation of what we do is teach. “

That teaching refers to not only coaches to players, but from Holmgren to Shurmur, and not just now in Berea. You can trace the educational path all the way back to Paul Brown, who taught Bill Walsh in Cincinnati; Walsh taught Holmgren in San Francisco, Holmgren taught Andy Reid in Green Bay, and Reid taught Shurmur in Philadelphia.

That’s quite a wealth of accumulated knowledge.

But can Shurmur translate all of that into wins? That’s the big unknown.

We hope Shurmur took time to watch Saturday’s game between the Steelers and Ravens and keeps the game tape handy in his offense. Because that is what the Browns must face four times a year.

And if they can’t get past the Steelers and Ravens, then all the talk of being on the same page and meshing of philosophies will just be a lot of hot air.

"We’re trying to win football games"

Well, at least we know one thing about new Browns coach Pat Shurmur: he wants to win football games.*

The Browns introduced Shurmur on Friday as their latest head coach.

“As you talk about our team and the goals for this team, it’s very simple; we’re trying to win football games,” Shurmur said during the press conference. “Our goal is to win the AFC North, to compete in the playoffs and win Super Bowls. Anything we talk about that doesn’t relate to winning, then, I think we’re getting ourselves distracted. We will make all our decisions based on winning and that process started yesterday.”

While Shurmur, who was joined at the podium by team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert, was understandably vague about his plans, he did shed some light on what the Browns will look like under his watch.

“I think the running game is very important,” Shurmur said. “Everything starts up front. You need to have a gritty offensive line to block the run and protect the passer. From that standpoint, the next most important guy is the quarterback, how he plays and how efficient he is. I think it’s very important we run the ball, but in the NFL you have to be able to efficiently and explosively throw the ball. That’s something we have to get done.”

We liked his answer to the question of how he relates to players:

“I would say my relationship with players is very professional,” Shurmur said. “I believe players are different. Coaches are different. I will say we have to do the very best to get our players to be the best they can. Some guys, a couple quiet words will get them to be their best. I think the key is to get to know your players as best as you can and communicate with them in those ways.

“We take highly motivated, talented people and then we teach them to do very basic tasks, then we tie it all together. Then we go out and let you folks evaluate it and try to have those tasks point to efficient football and winning. The foundation of what we do is teach. “

That’s good. Often coaches fail because they try to treat every player the same. One of the keys to being successful, besides having talented players of course, is figuring out which players need a pat on the back and which ones need a kick in the ass. Shurmur seems to get that.

The one statement that gave us pause was when Shurmur said, at least initially, he would handle the play-calling duties.

“Yes, initially I will start out by calling the plays,” he said. “That really is the fun part. In terms of hiring the coordinators, the staff in general is an ongoing process. We’re actively pursuing the guys we want to come to Cleveland.”

That doesn’t sound like a very good idea to us. With so much going on during the game on Sunday, we’d prefer to have our head coach focusing on everything, not just the next play call on offense.

Holmgren, Heckert and Shurmur left little doubt that all three are on the same page when it comes to turning the Browns around.

“I think the relationship that I have with Tom and Coach Holmgren is part of the strength of what we’re going to embark on,” Shurmur said. “I think we have a collective view of what it takes to win in this league and we’ll be able to put that into play.”

“Like Pat said, from the day he walked in the door, we were on the same page,” Heckert said. “Everybody says they want the character and hard work and stuff, but we’ve been through it together and we’ve done it with getting those players. I think we are on the same page when it comes to players and what we are looking for, and we’ve done it together before. That can’t be a negative.”

“We cannot keep changing around here every two or three years,” Holmgren said. “You can’t do that and expect to be successful, you can’t do that. My hope and why this was so important and why I’m very excited, I see these two men working together. I can envision certain things where it’s a pretty good fit and my hope and prayer is that now the changes stop. Now the growing and building begins. I think we took some strides last year. My hope is this is the coach and this will be the coach for a long, long time. That was part of the thinking.”

So now the deed is done. Shurmur is on board as Browns coach, he needs to get busy filling out the coaching staff – reports have the Browns looking at Dick Jauron as defensive coordinator, which would probably mean a transition to a 4-3 defense, and Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator.

There are free agents, both the Browns and others, to look at, the draft to prepare for, plus a long list of other items.

In other words, it’s time for the team to start focusing on winning games, because everything else is just a distraction.

*We still don’t know, however, where Shurmur stands on the great question of field goals vs. touchdowns.

Holmgren grabs his man …

… but will Browns fans regret his decision?

The team made its move on Thursday, hiring St. Louis offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as the Browns fifth head coach since 1999.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to join an organization with such a rich history and tradition as the Cleveland Browns,” Shurmur said in a press release. “I have the utmost respect for Coach (Mike) Holmgren and Tom Heckert and I am impressed with the direction in which they have this franchise going.”

“I am extremely excited about having Pat Shurmur as the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” said team president Mike Holmgren. “Pat is a bright, young man who grew up in football and around the coaching profession. I came away from our interview very impressed with him as a person, his extensive knowledge of the game and his track record of success as an assistant coach in this league. Most importantly, I feel as though he possesses the necessary qualities which make him the right man to lead our football team.”

Hopefully Shurmur will last longer than Chris Palmer (two years), Butch Davis (less than four years), Romeo Crennel (four years) and Eric Mangini (two years).

If he doesn’t, Holmgren will have a lot of explaining to do and the team will be even further away from contending than they stand right now.

So what do we know about Shurmur?

He has never been a head coach at any level. Of course Davis and Mangini came to town with head coaching experience and they both washed out without turning the Browns into winners.

He learned the West Coast offense under Andy Reid in Philadelphia for 10 years, spending seven of those years as the Eagles quarterback coach. Seems reasonable to expect the Browns to embrace that offense more fully next season.

He was QB coach in Philly when Donovan McNabb earned three trips to the Pro Bowl.

He is familiar with general manager Tom Heckert, who held various positions with the Eagles for eight years while Shurmur was there.

With such a strong connection to the Eagles and Andy Reid, Shurmur should have little trouble getting on the same page as Holmgren and Heckert, which is key to the team’s success. If the Browns have a philosophy that all three share and buy into, it will be easier for Holmgren and Heckert to give Shurmur the types of players he needs to succeed.

He has no connection to the Bill Belichick coaching tree or the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns have relied entirely too much on those two avenues (Mangini & Romeo; former general managers Phil Savage and George Kokinis) in recent years. It’s refreshing to see Holmgren break this cycle of dependency.

Under his control, the Rams offense ranked 29th and 26th the past two years.

He’s no stranger to working with young quarterbacks. Shurmur spent the 2010 season mentoring rookie Sam Bradford. Under his direction, Bradford completed 354-of-590 attempts for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns. His yardage total was second-most ever by a rookie, as only Peyton Manning threw for more yards in his first season, 3,739 in 1998. Bradford also set a rookie record with 174 consecutive attempts without an interception.

“This is a great opportunity for Coach Shurmur,” Bradford told The St. Louis-Post Dispatch. “I really enjoyed working with him last season and he truly helped my transition from college to the NFL game. I think he will be a really good head coach.”

He’s not a “name” coach, such as John Fox, Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher. But that’s OK, Gruden is a joke, Fox is just an average coach and Cowher is never coming to Cleveland. Throw in the fact that no Super Bowl-winning coach has ever won a Super Bowl with a second team and it’s clear there was no reason for the Browns to go down that road.

So what don’t we know?

How Shurmur will handle running the team. Can he see the big picture? Can he put together a productive practice schedule? Can he manage all the unexpected details that come up on Sundays?

St. Louis running back Stephen Jackson thinks so.

“I knew it would not be long before Coach Shurmur got a head coaching job in this league,” Jackson told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He was a good coordinator for the Rams and on Sundays, he got the most out of his players and always had us in a position to win the game.”

Who will his coordinators be? Brian Daboll is certainly out and it appears that Rob Ryan won’t be back. Who’s running the show on offense and defense?

How much can he get out of an offense that still has no quality at wide receiver, a shaky to bad right side of the offensive line and only one threat in the running game?

Most importantly, where does he stand on the field goals vs. touchdowns debate?

Seriously, though, it’s clearly too early to know if this whole thing is going to work out or not. Shurmur is a first-time head coach and there are going to be growing pains. Hopefully having Holmgren around will shorten the learning curve considerably.

Also, there is no universal right offense or right defense in the NFL. The only correct offense or defense is the one that maximizes the talents of the available players.

If Holmgren knows what type of player is needed for the West Coast offense, and if Heckert can get those players, and if Shurmur knows how to coach that offense, then it is the “right” offense for this team. What’s most important is picking an offense and defense and sticking with it so the team can be built to succeed in the particular schemes.

For now we remain optimistic. The Browns have had a lot of practice hiring coaches since 1999, maybe it is time for all that preparation to finally pay off.

***

Lot’s of opinions on this:

Shurmur not a bad pick: Terry Pluto

Is Shurmur Better than Eric Mangini? Bill Livingston

Shurmur may not catch a break from the hoople heads: Bud Shaw

Hiring Shurmur ultimate test for Mike Holmgren: Marla Ridenour

Our New Nepotistic Golden Age? Cleveland Frowns

Shurmur leaves an angry crowd behind: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Wrapping up Browns vs. Steelers

There’s really not anything left to say about the Browns’ loss to Pittsburgh to end the season on Sunday.

It’s no real surprise the Browns loss, Pittsburgh is currently the better team and had something to play for. The Browns are still a work in progress and were short-handed due to injuries and a lack of talent.

The only real surprise was the final score. For the first time all season the Browns were not competitive and picked a bad time for it. If this loss had come in Week 6 it would still have been disappointing, but would have been forgotten as the season went along. But coming in the season finality made the loss seem worse to some, and that memory is what too many will probably take from this season.

***

A day later and we’re still divided over the firing of Eric Mangini.

We were ready to give Mangini another year to see if the Browns were really improving or not. But Mike Holmgren was not and, in the end, his opinion is the one that counts.

One thing we can’t shake, however, is Holmgren saying in November that “wins and losses are not the only criteria” and that “there’s more to look at.”

We’re not sure what Holmgren saw this year to make him believe the Browns should have finished with more than 5 wins. Apparently he believed the team that beat New England and New Orleans was the true Browns team and the losses to Cincy, Buffalo and Jacksonville were not acceptable.

On the flip side, it’s hard to overlook Mangini’s 10-22 record and 2-10 mark in the division and that seems to be what sealed the deal in Holmgren’s eyes.

The division record points out just how far the Browns still need to go and just how difficult it is going to be to be consistently competitive.

Until they show us otherwise, we have to assume the Steelers and the Ravens are going to have double-digit wins each season, which puts the Browns squarely in the toughest division in the league. This isn’t the NFC West (which the Browns would have owned this year) and the next coach needs to get the Browns to a point where they can compete in the division if they have any hope of being a playoff contender.

Holmgren had made his decision; while we’re not 100 percent behind it, it’s done so we need to move on.

Here’s a nice, fair take on Mangini from CBSSports.com
.

***

Speaking of the next coach, the Browns are reportedly going to interview St. Louis offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur on Thursday.

Shurmur’s time in St. Louis appears to have been a mixed bag this season.

Shurmur has the requisite ties to Holmgren, having worked with Andy Reid in Philadelphia. But we have to wonder about him as the Rams ranked 26th in offense this year (21st in passing and 25th in rushing).

The team is also expected to interview Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

***

Finally, today is the 30th anniversary of the Browns playoff loss to Oakland in the Red Right 88 game.

That was the day we learned what it meant to be a Browns (and Cleveland) fan. We were obviously much younger then and that was the first Browns team we fell in love with.

If only Brian Sipe had thrown the ball to Dave Logan this site would exist under a different name and would possibly have a different tone to it. But that’s not the way it worked out.

If you’re in the mood, video of the final drive is here. If you want to relive that magical season, Jonathan Knight’s book, Kardiac Kids: The Story of the 1980 Cleveland Browns, is an excellent read.

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