Mike Holmgren Tries to Calm Down Cleveland

I didn’t have a chance to transcribe it word-for-word, but in case you missed it here is what “The Big Show” said during his press conference today.  And before I go any further, you need to understand the tone that he used the entire time was light with a lot of chuckling almost as if he couldn’t believe how big a deal everything is underneath the microscope right now.

Let’s go right to the meat and potatoes.  Holmgren indicates that the Browns will probably sign an offensive coordinator this off-season.  In fact, he can’t believe that Pat Shurmur won’t want one in order to take some of the game planning pressure off of himself going forward.  Holmgren light-heartedly said, “No one was better than me and I wanted one.” before smiling and laughing.

Holmgren also chided the local media in a good-natured way.  After the radio interview blew up, he said, “I’m so aware of pronouns and adverbs and things…” and he said it in such a way as to poke fun at the media and fans that were hyper-analyzing it all.  Later he told the media as a note for them to remember, “This is not rocket science. There are not giant conspiracy theories.  We need good players and good coaching.”  By this I take it to mean that the wild theories about tanking or letting contract situations affect playing time is all blown out of proportion from his point of view.

Speaking of contract situations he said that it has all been blown up because Peyton Hillis got hurt, but that it is pretty typical.  They were negotiating and they weren’t able to find common ground.  Holmgren again laughed when he said something to the effect of, “this happens all the time in negotiations on contracts.”

Holmgren spoke about Colt McCoy and said they just need to keep letting him play.  He has a lot of growing and learning to do in the scheme and as an NFL pro.  Holmgren said that he realizes that it is unhealthy for an organization to change quarterbacks every single season.  Even with that, he said the team would have to continue to do it until they find “the guy.”  Holmgren said this in response to being asked if the Browns were committed to McCoy beyond this season.  Holmgren tried to say that the team couldn’t be committed to any player, especially at that position, until he proves he can be the guy.

Holmgren spoke about free agency and recalled that the Packers signing Reggie White might have been the greatest free agent pickup of all time, but that it quite frequently goes the other way.  He said that the team’s strategy with free agency will depend every single season on who is available and where the team is in its development. That segued into the wide receivers…

A little dig at Mangini and Daboll possibly, but Holmgren says the Browns really wanted to get a look at the young receivers and Greg Little this year because they didn’t feel like they had a sufficient look at them from a year ago.  Then again, considering Mangini was trying to win with a team on its third starting quarterback, can you really blame him for going run-heavy in the gameplan?  Again, kind of a situation where Mangini was a victim of circumstance that had to do with his lack of job security not meshing with the long-term goals of Holmgren and Heckert.

Holmgren finished with another small dig / message for the media.  “What I would ask is that… to kind of spread the word a little”.  The feed cut off, so I am not sure exactly what he meant, but I took it to mean report the facts and stay away from the speculation like with Peyton Hillis.  I hope Holmgren got a chance to send this memo to Adam Schefter and Chris Mortenson as well.

I think he is reaching a bit there considering the results so far on the field and how ugly they have been on occasion.  Then again, without saying the Browns are tanking on purpose, Mike Holmgren sure didn’t seem overly disappointed by the state of the team right this second.  I am happy to hear that he hasn’t given up hope on this team just yet and where they are headed.  The little confidence injection is helpful and probably buys his team and coach a little bit of time for now.

I can’t paint a rosy picture just yet though.  This team hasn’t shown a lot of progress over the first five weeks.  They may not show any this particular week against Seattle either, but there is not time like the present.  They better start showing something soon, or Mike Holmgren will have to be out in front giving this same speech five weeks from now before the Browns head into the Baltimore and Pittsburgh portions of their AFC North schedule.

  • Garry Owen

    He chuckled???!!!! Why was he chuckling???????? So glad that he can find this all so funny!!!!!!!!!!!

  • stin4u


    Thanks for keeping it real big guy, some of us appreciate it.

  • Chris

    It’s clearly not all sunshine and rainbows out here in Believeland, but listening to 92.3 the past two days, and seeing some of the comments on here has been maddening.

    I’ve been guilty of being paranoid about the Hillis situation, but seeing people lose their head over a choice of pronoun was new heights of Cleveland inferiority complex to me. I don’t mean to speak ill of any commenters here, but it was all over the media including callers/commenters and even those hosts/writers.

    Hopefully this will help calm some people down. Holmgren is a professional who doesn’t want to hurt his reputation by leaving the Browns before he fixes them. All his comments seem to say he wants to at least get us heading down the right path before he’s done.

    Glad to hear there’s plans for an OC next year. If he didn’t say that, I’d have figured he was insane. Though it makes me wonder why he let Shurmur go without one in the first place…

  • Chris

    @Garry: <3

  • NJ

    I realize this will probably get me categorized as one of the sky-is-falling, always-focusing-on-the-negative crybabies, but I’m going to point it out anyway: if we all agree that we could use an offensive coordinator, why don’t we HAVE an offensive coordinator?

  • mgbode

    Once again, the stache has played the local media. Holmgren plotted for weeks in his silence, waiting for the Seattle week. That way he could go on local Seattle radio and drop 1 use of the word ‘they’ along with other mostly harmless wording that he knew would be over-analyzed and criticized by the paranoid Cleveland media whom would also be upset he broke his silence to others and not themselves.

    In this way, the story becomes about Holmgren and the silly Cleveland media, successfully deflecting from the actual product on the field. Well done, Mike. Well done.

    This and other Cleveland Brown conspiracy theories can be found at:

  • Seriously, who can be worried when Uncle Mike is in the house?

  • +1 mgbode

  • oribiasi

    @ Chris: I would like some credit for saying moons ago that Pat is in over his head and therefore, an Offensive Coordinator is necessary.

    I haven’t fully “absorbed” everything Mikey-Mike said, but whenever I hear him speak he sounds so well-informed and intelligent that I stop thinking about the fact that he hired Pat Shurmur.

    So, to make all of us feel better, maybe he could do the play-by-play for Browns games so I don’t feel like hurling myself off the I-480 bridge after each fake field goal.

    Kidding aside, I like some of what he had to say. I don’t like his comment about Hillis getting “some serious free agent looks” this off-season, as that equals = we won’t sign him in my mind.

    Also, Crag, this sentence: “By this I take it to mean that the wild theories about tanking or letting contract situations affect playing time is all blown out of proportion from his point of view.” This worries me a little. There is nothing that wild about those suggestions; it’s happened before in the NFL and it can happen again.

  • Mark

    @NJ -that is exactly what I’ve been wondering. The quotes make it seem like it’s a no brainer. Why wasn’t in place before the season started? Is it too hard to get some help in that position now?

  • Garry Owen

    @ Chris:

    I’m so old and non pop-culture savvy, that I spent, like, 10 minutes – and hurt my brain – trying to figure out what that meant. I was getting angrier every minute, wanting to throw down. “Less than 3? What does he mean? A double ice cream cone on it’s side? Huh?? He’s not calling me a . . . no, can’t be. Maybe??? What the!?!?!”

    Then I remembered my trusty Google. We’re good. I so want to punch your avatar in its face – krav maga style (thus likely explaining my knee-jerk defensiveness), but you and me – we’re good. Brought together in the common cause of trying to be sane Browns fans. Thanks!

  • matt underwood

    I love, love, LOVE the browns, but the fans are a bunch of over reacting idiots (for the most part).

    Turn on the radio, read a blog comment’s section, read Grossi, it’s ‘F Lerner”, ‘trade Colt’, ‘hire Cowher/Gruden/Dungy/Chris Christie…’,’Heckert should have drafted…’, ‘I could run this team better..’, etc…

    When we were .500, people were celebrating saying we were headed in the right direction and the playoffs are within reach soon.

    Now, the team might as well move to Baltimore.


  • MP34

    Great to hear from Holmgren, especially regarding the offensive coordinator. But please allow me to put on my pissy pants for a minute and ask, really? Holmgren didn’t think in the off-season that getting an O.C. for a first-year coach in a strike-shortened year would be not only a good idea but mandatory?

    It’s not like we hired Bill Cowher who could dictate terms of employment. It was Pat Shurmur, he wasn’t going to say no.

  • mgbode

    @Craig – much appreciated, but the +1 should be going in the other direction here (as you have been at the forefront of trying to calm the masses)

  • Boomhauertjs

    Holmgren said he wasn’t worried about TV blackouts later in the season, but if they lose on Sunday at home to another team playing its backup QB, then there is probably going to be a blacked-out home game.

  • Max

    Im in Columbus so I dont have to subject myself to KNR any more, and I havent had a chance to listen to the new FM station yet, and I haven’t really noticed, but are people really freaking out that badly?

    I know I’m unimpressed with this team, and being 2-3 does not mean we are “good” by any stretch of the imagination. I know I wish our coach would coach and delegate authority to trusted lieutenants, like any other successful, non-megalomoniacal leader. I know I believe Mangini got a raw deal, but in the end he had to go, even though things were getting better.

    But sheesh, I’m no where near a ledge nor do I think its time to trade Colt or fire Shurmur. Anyone who is on a ledge might just want something to kvetch about, and wouldn’t know what to do if things finally did go our way

  • Chris

    @Garry, I’m pretty sure my avatar can take your avatar (actually i’ve been meaning to change it but I doubt you’ll like the next one either).

  • stin4u

    @Max – In short, yeah. Listening to the fan 92.3 since the Hillis drama started has been nearly unbearable. After the Holmgren interview yesterday in Seattle it got a lot worse.

  • Garry Owen

    I don’t know, Chris. My avatar is pretty well-armed (and highly trained, and frankly freaking pi**ed off because it’s so !@#$%^& hot out there).

    Let’s just keep our avatars in their respective corners (right and left, as it were).

  • Max

    @stin- thanks for clearing that up for me. I’m glad I’m missing out.

    The Cleveland sports media perpetuates all the “sky is falling” and “woe is us” in that town. Presumably, thats because its goof for newspaper sales, web hits and ratings. I wonder about a few media memebers in Cleveland and wonder if they really want the Browns to do well, or if they’d rather perpetuate the turmoil for their own self-preservation.

  • Big Z

    We need to separate the defense from the offense when criticizing their poor play. Too often it is written that “The Browns haven’t shown much improvement” or “The Browns played poorly” when, in reality, most of us have been impressed on a regular basis with the defense. Big ups, D!

  • Mark

    @Max – I think a successful Browns team is good for everyone, media included. However, absent of that, a tumultuous Browns team will do. It’s hard for sports radio, Grossi and all the other “oh my God, this is a disaster” types to preach patience. Better to over react and make mountains out of mole hills. It does become tiresome to listen to.

  • Billy Thomas

    Mike please make Pat do his Post Game Pressers in a CLOWN OUTFIT till his team plays a good game.

  • Max

    @Mark- it was tiresome to listen to when the media was calling for Marty’s head. I was only 11 and I knew better even then.

  • Cleveland78

    The Walrus has spoken. Now it’s time for the sycophantic local (mainstream) media to “spread the message.” Look for the Grossis to excuse a lot more puzzling decisions, as they’ve done with the refusal to sign a bona fide RT, focus on special teams, hire an OC, be transparent with the misc team controversies of late, etc.

    The Walrus commands this.

  • MallaLubba

    2012 Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator: Jim Tressel

  • TSR3000

    @ Big Z- well said. The Defense looks decent enough and is showing progress.

    This just makes me wish Jaruon was the head coach and we had a competent dude running the offense.

  • Matt

    @26 Hmmm….beat the Steelers every year, but lose the Super Bowl every year as well….Tough call.

  • pepe

    We don’t need the media to tell us the sky is falling, we only need to watch the games. Has any team played a weaker schedule than the Browns so far? And if Haden, Hillis and Skrine all don’t play this week, it’s only going to get uglier.

  • crowsfoot

    Holmgren is just another on a long list of established sports figures who’ve come to Cleveland and gotten overpaid for doing the bare minimum. It’s the easiest city to play in with no repercussions for underachieving.

  • NJ

    @30- Keith Hernandez approves.

    Can’t we all go back to yelling about Sizemore’s option?

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    I dont really understand this.

    1.) Holmgren doesnt want the media and fans to freak out, but it seems like we only finally get answers to what are pretty standard questions if the media and fans freak out. Sorry Holmgren, but you and Shurmur basically drove it to this point with unclear answers and poor leadership.

    2.) Someone else said this, but if we’re going to get an offensive coord next season, why didnt we have one this year? Did Shurmur want a year to figure out the lineup and pick after that? If Holmgren knew that Shurmur would basically need one, why didnt he insist on hiring one from the start? Was no one good enough available?

    Overall I feel better about the team than yesterday, but a couple laughs and calming words still dont answer all my questions

  • Return of the (Alex) Mack

    @26 Punt Lover!

  • DonFelder

    Only in Cleveland could we be satisfied that the guy paid millions to turn a perennially terrible organization into a winner plans to leave after getting said horrible organization “headed in the right direction.”

  • christopher

    “Why don’t we have an offensive coordinator this year?”

    ….ever think that the one they wanted wasn’t available? You can’t just plant a magic coach/player/coordinator tree today and expect it to be there to sign tomorrow.

    Jesus this town has a question for every answer.

  • pepe

    “….ever think that the one they wanted wasn’t available?”

    That’s not an answer. Every other team in all levels of football are able to fill their staff. If in fact the Browns were unable to convince a OC to sign with the team then that’s an even bigger concern. But I doubt that was the case. The right side of the offensive line we wanted wasn’t available either, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need one.

    It was hubris and now they’re paying for it. Six games into the season and the boss has already admitted it was a mistake.

  • christopher

    You’re right Pepe, every other team in the NFL has EXACTLY the right coach/personnel/player they wanted except for us.

    We are the ONLY team who was left outside in the rain without proper personnel.

    Poor us.

  • Mike

    @ christopher (37) – I would settle for an umbrella at this point, because that is not rain you are feeling, that is Gary Miller…

  • christopher

    The painful truth that it seems everyone who is down on the franchise cannot bring themselves to userstand is simple……until the team is a winner nothing anyone in the organization says matters.

    I mean honestly, if we were 5-0 and the Hillis situation was still going on and Holmgren was of chatting with Seattle before us would anyone care, no.

    But the painful part is that these things are going to happen anyway no matter how much it irritates the fans.

    So you either sit back and watch them build this thing from the ground up the right way knowing that there will be plenty of bumps along the way or abandon them until they are winning.

    Either way it’s time for many people to make a choice.

    I thought I had Sunday. Honestly I was done, but then I took a breath and saw the media light the fire on this whole debacle this week and realized I was crazy for thinking the way they were.

  • Alex

    On top of the world freaking out, the morons on 92.3 have become entirely unlistenable for the last two days. So much for having a “fresh” “new” sports radio option in this city…

  • NJ

    @39- I agree. But defenders of the team have to understand that everyone who questions Holmgren isn’t a hater or just a naysayer, especially when those questions are fair and legit.

    For example, we clearly could use someone in the OC position to take some of the workload off of Shurmur. Holmgren even admits that. So why didn’t we get one? Even a one year guy? Are we looking now?

    Do we really have to wait a whole year for the “correct” people to become available? We already wasted a year by keeping Mangini. Why waste another? It also raises the question: there’s only one or two guys in all of football who can be OC for Shurmur? Really? There was NOBODY else AT ALL who could have filled that position even for a year?

    You also said “watch them build this thing from the ground up”. I’ve done that at least five times already – sat patiently, sat quietly, watched all kind of little mistakes compound, and saw the entire team suffer. So now I’m being asked to sit in silence for a sixth time? Compounded with the Mangini debacle, I’m just out of faith and patience.

    So I’ll ask again: if everyone in the organization thinks we need an OC only six weeks into the year, why didn’t we get one in the first place? If we need one now, are we trying to find one now?

  • B-bo

    Why would an organization bring a guy in to be a one-year band-aid at OC? There clearly wasn’t anyone out there who had a system that the team wanted to use. Why have guys adapting to a new ssytem, only to change it yet again next season? Let Shurmur handle it for a year (with Holmgren there to support if needed) to at least get guys familiar with the type of system we want, then look next year for an OC who can fit it. This makes for the smoother transition in the long run, even if it’s not the prettiest to watch now. And again, the focus should be getting the pieces in place.

  • NJ

    That’s what the geeks call “retconning”, basically rewriting the established canon at a later date to suit your current needs. Cause the truth isn’t that they really wanted a certain OC and just couldn’t get him. The truth is that Shurmur thought he could do it all himself and he clearly can’t. Hubris, plain and simple. And all it costs Browns fans is another year.

  • B-bo

    When in doubt, go with the most nefarious possibility.

  • MallaLubba

    @28: Hey, I’d love a Super Bowl win and all but I’d settle for just getting there if I’m given that as an option compared to what we’ve seen for my entire life.

  • NJ

    It’s just as likely as the least nefarious possibility.

    Look, if Holmgren said or even suggested that there were particular coaches targetted for the OC position and they’d be available next year, it’d be a different story. As far as I’m aware, that’s not the case.

    So this has/will be Holmgren’s tenure:
    Year one: Yeah, but he doesn’t have the HC he wants.
    Year two: Yeah, but he doesn’t have the OC he wants.
    Year three: Yeah, but give them a year in the offense scheme.
    Year four: Yeah, but ____________. (QB? new DC? etc.)

    I’m tired of writing off years! It’s the football equivalent of Waiting for Godot.

  • B-bo

    Does he really have to tell us there are targeted guys out there? Isn’t that a safe bet given that he’s even discussing bringing in an OC at all? I don’t imagine the guy is thinking, “Gosh, we need a guy next year…hope someone’s available then”. But hey, who knows for sure? Maybe he is that foolish. OR EVIL.

    I thought the guy did a nice job handling the whole ridiculous situation. And I love that he didn’t hide the fact that he found it all so ridiculous. If some folks would take a step back and look big picture, I think a whole lot more of us would get a laugh out of the entire thing. But he addressed some big issues in what I found to be a fair and upfront manner, and that’s respectable. I guess the bigger question is, is there anything he could have said or done at all that would stop the hysterics and conspiracy talks in some parts of the fanbase? It seems like the answer is “no”. So he spoke, as folks called for him to do, and yet it wasn’t good enough. I’m beginning to think Holmgren is underpaid for doing this job.