Reports of talks between the Cleveland Browns and Mike Holmgren have excited many fans. Most news outlets in their reports are saying that if Holmgren agrees to oversee the continuing reclamation project going on in Cleveland, Eric Mangini’s days would be numbered. Is this the right move?
After their big win over the Steelers, it is very possible for the momentum to push the Browns past their final three opponents. Kansas City, Oakland and Jacksonville are all playing well as of late, but like the Cleveland Browns, are mired in mediocrity. Jacksonville however, does have a chance to make the playoffs this year, and a Browns victory at Cleveland Browns Stadium in the roll of spoiler could be one of those victories fans don’t soon forget.
If that happens, could Eric Mangini save his job and the jobs of those on his staff? I think it’s a distinct possibility. Although it wouldn’t be business as usual. But, it seems winning out in 2009 provides a certain amount of consideration for remaining in 2010.
Mike Holmgren could make it work if three things are done:
1) Holmgren has to make it very clear that Mangini needs to change his ways. His dictatorship may have worked to weed out players that were cancers to the team, but the excessive fines, his handling of practice and his placement of young players in situations where injury was a probable outcome have to change. His work ethic can stay, but the rest of the Mangini circus has to go.
2) Holmgren has to make drafting defense his highest priority. Rob Ryan has worked miracles with a defensive unit in flux. Provide him some real talent and I think the Browns can quickly become a team to be feared. Keeping Rob Ryan in town allows for continuity and can provide the proper training ground for a coach who might well be a great head coach. This may go against Holmgren’s itch to bring in his “own guys” but keeping Ryan and Mangini can be the right thing to do.
3) Holmgren should make a change by bringing in a new Offensive Coordinator. Brian Daboll has shown us nothing that would constitute reason for keeping him around. Although the change will once again put the offense on pins and needles as they again are forced to learn a new system, it is the right move. Bringing in a guy who can simplify his system, teach young guys and put them in situations where they can succeed would be the best move for this organization. Making sure the pieces we have can be used optimally is priority one.
These three things would set Holmgren up for a successful first season at the helm. With a solid draft and a commitment to return this team to competitiveness, Holmgren can turn this all around in one year. Hard work, leadership, training and preparation in the context of a stable working environment can make the Browns a legitimate contender for the division title. There is hope, but it has to start with Mike Holmgren coming here and following these simple suggestions.