By Bruce Hooley
The Browns’ continued descent into irrelevance imperils their hold on the younger portion of their fan base, but that might not be such a bad thing.
Just imagine if teenagers throughout Northeast Ohio duplicated the Browns’ response to critics of their disinterest in building the team through free agency.
That inactive teen, reclining on the couch when school work or duties around the house beckoned, could disarm their parents’ attempt to stir them to action with this admonition from Browns’ President Mike Holmgren’s playbook:
“I’m not just sitting here doing nothing. I’m engaged in a process. Please, be patient.”
One week into free agency, with most of the available players who could have bolstered an inept Browns’ offense signed elsewhere, Cleveland incredibly has fewer playmakers now than it did before in an attempt to rebound from four straight seasons of six wins or fewer.
Instead of adding a wide receiver, running back or quarterback to improve an offense that averaged just over 13 points per-game, Holmgren allowed the Browns’ most capable threat to depart when Peyton Hillis left for a one-year, $3-million deal in Kansas City.
The Browns deemed Hillis unworthy of that modest investment, just as they sniffed at quarterback Matt Flynn, who signed a surprisingly-affordable deal in Seattle that guarantees him only $10 million.
That’s some $30 million less than Flynn once seemed destined to receive, but not enough of a bargain to interest the Browns.
So barring an upgrade in the draft – and having fanned on an attempt to get Robert Griffin III, that leaves Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden as the next-best available quarterback prospects– Cleveland will go with Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace in 2012.
Holmgren tried to sound convincing about a future with McCoy under center during a Monday interview with KJR Radio in Seattle.
I think [McCoy is] a fine player and has a chance to be a fine player in this league,” Holmgren said. “I thought last year, one, he got beat up pretty good. We didn’t protect him quite as well. I thought our running game after Peyton Hillis got hurt wasn’t helping him enough in my opinion. And then we had the lockout, so you had a new coach, new system, new quarterback.
“So you put all that together, and I think it was a little bit of a short deck. So I’m not down on Colt McCoy at all...I know Colt as a person, and he’ll respond as well as anyone in the world will to this. So I’m not down on Colt. He can play.
If Holmgren really thinks Hillis’ injury hurt McCoy’s development, why not re-sign Hillis?
If Holmgren truly believes McCoy can play effectively, why did the Browns try to trade three No. 1 draft choices for the right to move up two spots and acquire Griffin?
And if Holmgren actually has faith in McCoy, why in that same KJR interview did the Browns’ president confess to looking at “10 or 12 quarterbacks, maybe even more” as alternatives to the McCoy-Wallace pairing still atop the depth chart?
There are no sensible answers beyond the implied response to everything Holmgren does:
Trust me. I’m Mike Holmgren.
Bruce Hooley is the executive editor of ESPNCleveland.com and hosts The Hooligans from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 850 WKNR. Email Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Bruce on Twitter @bhoolz
Return to: ESPN Cleveland Blog Blog