By Tony Grossi
Far and away, the No. 1 topic in this week’s column was Mike Holmgren, the former Browns surrogate owner and team president who was essentially fired/retired as a result of Jimmy Haslam’s $1.05 billion purchase of the Browns.
Hey Tony: Seeing how the Browns will have another top 5 draft pick this season what direction do you see them going? The obvious needs for next year are: cb, safety, outside linebacker, de, O-guard, fullback, punter, and receiver. They will probably fill a few of those positions through free agency. Do they go with a DE early (Mingo/Werner) or play it safe with a talented outside linebacker such as Jarvis Jones?
-- Alex, Orlando, FL
Hey Alex: All draft questions are on hold until we get answers to two questions: 1. Who is the general manager? 2. Who is the coach?
Hey Tony: Let's assume that the Browns continue to flounder for the remainder of the season. Do you think Jimmy Haslam will try to mold the Browns into a Pittsburgh model? If you were a Steeler fan for years, I would think a feisty coach on the sideline would be a necessity. Haslam shows his emotion in the booth and I just feel he will want that type of a coach. I like Pat Shurmur but sometimes I just want to see him get into a player’s face screaming and drooling like another coach I remember!
-- Rick, Shreveport, LA
Hey Rick: Shurmur’s sideline demeanor is not the problem. Failing to do whatever is necessary to produce a win is the problem. Game management – punting on fourth-and-1 …. blindly forsaking the running game in close games … having a rookie quarterback throw 40 times a game – is the problem.
Hey Tony: It is clear that Mike Holmgren took us all for a ride, and once again left the fans wondering how could it go so wrong and what happens now. There is some optimism with Haslam/Joe Banner but there is always optimism when it comes to the Browns. Why wasn't Holmgren taken to task by the Cleveland sports media when he was in town, before the takeover by Haslam? His shamefully poor work ethic was rumored and his five-year plan was laughable from the beginning. Do you feel any regrets not critiquing him as harshly as what was probably warranted? Had you have known his final press conference would have been so offensive would you have been more on the attack during his tenure here?
-- Eliot, Cape Coral, FL
Hey Eliot: For the majority of Holmgren’s tenure, I was a Browns beat writer with The Plain Dealer. Since March, I have been a Browns analyst with ESPN Cleveland and 850 WKNR. Two different roles. Two different companies.
Hey Tony: In Holmgren's farewell presser, he mentioned he'll be happy for members of the local media once the team wins because as he said "some of you are pretty grumpy." Did you feel that comment was directed at you and also what is the deal with him calling Terry Pluto by your name "Tony"? You'd think after three years he'd know who is who.
-- Bryan, Medina, OH
Hey Bryan: I have no idea whom he was referring to. You’d be grumpy too if you saw things you thought got in the way of winning and had no power to stop or correct them.
Hey Tony: I'm curious as to what you think about the production of Montario Hardesty. Seems like when he's in the game he can find the holes in the offensive line a little better than Trent Richardson.
-- Greg, Middletown OH
Hey Greg: Hardesty has done well, better than I expected. But keep in mind that Richardson has been trying to play with a painful rib cartilage injury. He always says he gives “120 percent,” yet he is not at 100 percent to do so.
Hey Tony: Any word on if Bill Polian wants back in and would he be a candidate with Joe Banner and Haslam?
-- Craig, Atlanta, GA
Hey Craig: Polian, 70, has had an outstanding career as a team executive, building Super Bowl teams with Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis. It is my opinion, however, that the Haslam-Banner team wants a younger, less volatile, man in charge of personnel.
Hey Tony: How come many Cleveland sports radio show hosts want to blame Holmgren regime for the 12 years of the Browns’ woes? And why do the same radio hosts try to change history by saying Holmgren was hired here to take over the coaching position. I don't remember ever hearing Holmgren say if he had to fire his head coach he would come down and take over. More wishful thinking on sport talk hosts.
-- Tom, Parma, OH
Hey Tom: I think many in the Cleveland media believed that Holmgren eventually would coach the Browns. That was exciting. So it was a disappointment when Holmgren admitted he didn’t have the energy to coach. My personal opinion is that Holmgren knew that he couldn’t win with the team he inherited and that was a major factor in in deciding not to return to the sideline. He admitted at his farewell press conference that he still misses coaching.
Hey Tony: After the Bengals game, Dick Jauron said he lost track of how much Joe Haden had played in his first game back. Last Sunday Pat Shurmur seemed to have no clue that Trent Richardson wasn't healthy. I know Jimmy Haslam said he won't changes coaches before the end of the season, but how long do you think he can watch them jeopardize the health of his best players if he knows he won't bring the coaches back in 2013?
-- Mike, Highland Heights, OH
Hey Mike: The Haden example was a conditioning issue after missing four games – not a health issue. As for Richardson, I do think the coaches left him in too long. But that wasn’t a health issue, either. The issue was that he was unable to run effectively with a rib cartilage injury. I agree that coaches should have realized this earlier than a full half of play.
Hey Tony: The Browns coaching staff and medical doctors should have known that if you are wearing a flak jacket, you should not be playing. During the week, they should have had Hardesty ready to start. The mindset should have been all along to make the Colts think Richardson would start, but to start Hardesty and have Richardson as an option. At the very best, you start Richardson and monitor him, not wait for 8 carries and then give up on the run. You planned on running the football, run it with Hardesty from the start. The confidence in short yardage is established and an easier decision would have been made. That was the biggest error in judgment and it happened before the game. Tony, what do you think?
-- Dennis, Mentor, OH
Hey Dennis: Richardson said on Wednesday that he felt pain on his initial contact in the Colts game. Somebody on the bench should have realized that. At that point, I would have yanked Richardson and played Hardesty and continued to run the ball.
Hey Tony: As I understand it the new ownership wants to have continuity. I also believe Brad Childress has a positive background with the folks now in charge. While not without his own past missteps of the past (cutting Moss without telling the owner?), do you see Brad Childress as being in the mix for head coach consideration (possibly serving as interim after the bye week) should it be deemed Pat S. ( I would punt again from the opponent's 41 on 4th & 1) is over his head?
-- Tom, FL
Hey Tom: I don’t think the Browns will change coaches until after the season.
Hey Tony: Great job on the Holmgren epitaph, but I wonder if you suspect as I do, that Holmgren's ego got in the way of putting forth the effort. He probably realized early on that the Browns organization was in much worse shape than he thought and rather than coach or try to do whatever and fail, it was better to coast and ride with his image as a Super Bowl winning coach, QB guru, intact. When the aged, overfed Holmgren said he kind of missed coaching and might be open to it, someday, that was a slap in the face to Cleveland fans. Apparently, he didn't kind of miss it, here. And it would have been simple for Holmgren to call the plays from the box instead of Childress. I do not know how it feels to land a $40 million, 5-year job, but I'd like to believe I would not simply phone it in; that I would have the guts to try hard and risk ridicule -- (when I wasn't shopping for houses, cars, clothes,), that is. What do you think Tony? Fear of failure rather than lazy and greedy?
-- Lori, Stow, OH
Hey Lori: I think all of the above.
Hey Tony: I've been following you for years and appreciate your work, especially now with ESPN. I have heard very little criticism of what I thought was a huge error last week in the Browns/Colts game. I am referring to the situation that started with the Browns missing the extra point after their first touchdown. Shurmur later decided after the second touchdown to kick for the extra point which made the score 14-13 in favor of the Colts. In this case, why not go for a two-point conversion that would've tied it at 14? It later became a moot point as the Colts added a field goal but this decision would've been critical had the game ended in a 14-13 loss. If you fail to get the two-point conversion then you are down two points instead of one. In either case, you need a field goal to take the lead so I don't see the downside in going for two. What's your take?
-- Rick, Orrville, OH
Hey Rick: I think most NFL coaches without head coach experience in college really don’t appreciate the use of the two-point conversion. I can plead guilty to the same thing, having not covered the college game very much. I’ve hardly made mention of Shurmur’s exclusion of two-point attempts. I am becoming more cognizant of the merits of going for two. Scoreboard and time of game certainly matter, but it seems to me that several NFL coaches are using the two-point try much earlier than late in games.
Hey Tony: If you were Jimmy Haslam & Joe Banner, would you try and talk Mike Holmgren into being the Browns head coach? Holmgren, despite being a lousy front office exec, did win 172 games as a head coach.
-- Steve, Geneva, IL
Hey Steve: No chance of that. Holmgren doesn’t want to spend the energy it takes to coach an NFL team. Plus, he doesn’t want to take over a 1-6 team. You can’t ask a man to do that job if his heart is not in it.
Hey Tony: Assuming Pat Shurmur is fired, what kind of offense and defense do you think Haslam desires? He comes from the Steelers organization that always runs the 3-4 defense. Do you see them switching to the 3-4 next season? Also who do you think will have more say in this decision Haslam or Banner?
-- Mike, Fairview, OH
Hey Mike: The person who will have the biggest say in the decision is the next coach.
Hey Tony: For the record, as a fan, I am indifferent about Pat Shurmur's ability to coach so far. He hasn't done great, hasn't done horrible. In real estate it's said the key word is location, location, location. As we all know, I think the word in professional football is continuity, continuity, continuity. In my opinion, regardless of what the record is at the end of the year, I think the ONLY reason for Haslam to fire Pat Shurmur is if he has a feeling that'd he'd be able to pull Bill Cower or Jon Gruden from their broadcasting chairs. Thoughts?
-- Jeff, Madison, OH
Hey Jeff: I’m sure you know that no head coach has ever won a Super Bowl with two different teams. Cowher won with Pittsburgh and Gruden won with Tampa Bay. As much as I like both coaches, I don’t think either is so extraordinary as to accomplish something that Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren and Dan Reeves have not done. Each of those coaches reached the Super Bowl with two teams, but none could win it with two teams.
Hey Tony: Fascinating story on Holmgren, guess it's true that an organization takes on the personality of the guy in charge. And, in Holmgren's case, if Randy Lerner had no sense of urgency, why should he? Question is, how radically different do you think things will be under Haslam and Banner, and are you already seeing the differences?
-- Chris, Avon Lake, OH
Hey Chris: I think Haslam and Banner will shake things up, demand accountability, and achieve results faster than Holmgren’s group.
Hey Tony: Many browns fans disagree with me but I feel that Bernie Kosar is one of the greatest minds in football. What the guy was able to achieve with the "lack of skills" and "uncanny delivery" could be considered magical at times. I have been saying that with Bernie's on field intelligence, he would be a great QB coach, coordinator or adviser. I know he is not the most attractive name out there, but the guy just see's things from a different perspective. Also, he is a true Clevelander meaning he knows what they city has really gone through first hand. His friendliness with fans and on-field performance made him one of the most popular players in team history. Think of the cheers when the browns hire this guy back into the organization. Knowing that Halsam has been trying to mend old wounds with Jim Brown, do you think he has any plans to involve Kosar in some form or another?
-- Douglas, Fayetteville, NC
Hey Douglas: Kosar has turned down full-time positions in the past because of business or family issues. Maybe the timing was not right. Maybe it is now. That’s for Haslam/Banner and Kosar to ascertain.
Hey Tony: Now that we have our shiny new and engaged Owner do you see the stranglehold of Bob LaMonte finally easing the grip it has on the organization? For instance if there is a coaching change will the Browns interview and truly consider people not represented by Bob LaMonte? I don't see Haslam limiting his search like the Browns have done in the past, thanks!
-- Doug, Orange, CA
Hey Doug: The fact is that LaMonte had the same influence on the Eagles under Joe Banner and Andy Reid that he did in Cleveland under Mike Holmgren. I’ve already asked Banner if he thought LaMonte’s representation of all the major decision-making in Philadelphia football operations was a problem, and he said no. Whether Banner would be open to hiring a coach or top football executive outside the portfolio of the LaMonte is a germane question that he will be asked when the Browns’ coaching search officially begins.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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