Trust needed during Holmgren's search

New coach aside, Browns simply need more talented players

The Big Show has a big task at hand. It is time to remove the revolving door attached to the office of the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Mike Holmgren, grab your tool belt and let's go to Home Depot.

The next coach will be the fifth since the team returned in 1999. Each of the previous four coaches came to Cleveland with a different pedigree. The result was same each and every time. The coach failed to produce a professional football team that won consistently.

Let's review the recent coaching history:

•First, the Browns hired an assistant coach who was known for his ability to work with young quarterbacks — Chris Palmer. It seemed like a perfect fit considering the Browns' No. 1 overall pick in 1999 was quarterback Tim Couch. Palmer (5-17) lasted two seasons.

•Next in 2001, the Browns hired that year's hot college coaching candidate — Butch Davis. He was given total control of the franchise. His drafts were legendarily awful. Davis (24-34) lasted six games shy of four full seasons.

•In 2005, the Browns went back to separating the general manager and head coaching duties. With Phil Savage assuming the general manager role, the Browns hired that year's hot NFL coordinator, Romeo Crennel. For years, Crennel was considered ready to be a head coach. His lack of discipline and lack of wins led to the Browns to fire Crennel (24-40) after four seasons.

•Finally, in 2008, the Browns hired someone with previous NFL head coaching experience in Eric Mangini. Like Davis, Mangini was given total control in his first season. Before that first season ended, the Browns hired Holmgren as the team president and Tom Heckert as the general manager.

Mangini's first 5-11 season was followed with another 5-11 season. Holmgren fired Mangini on Jan. 3.

The Browns have seemingly tried every option when it comes to hiring a head coach. Each coach has failed. What is to say the streak will end with coach No. 5? Why waste time installing hinges on that revolving door?


Mike Holmgren.

For the first time since 1999, the Browns have a credible football man leading the organization. Team owner Randy Lerner is off rooting on Aston Villa in that other kind of football. Hey, the farther he is away from making American football decisions, the better. Those are better left for Holmgren, whose success in the National Football League is well documented. Nothing bolsters his credibility more than that large gold and diamond-encrusted ring on his right hand.

As Holmgren begins his search for the next Browns coach, numerous names are being speculated as potential replacements.

The big names mentioned excite the fan base: Jon Gruden. Brian Billick. Bill Cowher.

The lesser-known names who are actually receiving interviews have those same fans wringing their hands: Pat Shurmur. Perry Fewell. Mike Mularkey.

Each fan has their list of the two or three coaches they'd like to take over the Browns. Those names are typically household names.

It is time to scrap those and trust the men on Holmgren's list.


Quick turnarounds are commonplace in the NFL. In recent years, Miami, Kansas City and Tampa Bay have all went from losers to winners at what seemed like lightning speed. It's time for the Browns' turn.

So, what does each of those teams, except for the Browns, have in common? Those "big name" coaches who helped spark that turnaround were passed over for "lesser-known" names.

Tony Sparano? Hey, his name is almost like that mobster character on HBO, "Tony Soprano." Raheem Morris? That dude is so young. Todd Haley? Wasn't he the Arizona assistant coach who got into the shouting match with wide receiver Anquan Boldin?

Going back even a few more years, the same can be said for Baltimore's John Harbaugh and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin.

In each instance, the team went against the established "name." The coach who was eventually hired fit the system and fit the front office.

Yet, more than anything, what have helped those coaches succeed is talented people in the front office and even more talented people on the football field.


In the coming weeks, a parade of would-be coaches will be marching up and down Lou Groza Boulevard in Berea. Pick any one of those coaches at random. That man is capable of being a head coach in the NFL. It is why he is interviewing in the first place.

No doubt the next coaching hire is important, as are his potential assistants and coordinators. But the players on the field will ultimately determine his success in Cleveland.

After a year on the job, general manager Tom Heckert has shown his ability to draft talented, impact players. The Browns simply need more talent. The more talent on the roster, the better chance that new coach has at winning games.

Why have Haley, Morris, Tomlin and Harbaugh succeeded? The list of talented, impact players on the rosters of Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Baltimore's is deep.

Since 1999, the Browns have tried every avenue for its new coach. Top NFL coordinators. Top college coaches. Former NFL coach getting a second chance. Losing was the only constant. In the end, the Browns simply didn't and don't have enough talent.

The NFL's best coaches — surprise — have the best talent. Once the Browns can bolster that talent level, expect that revolving door to remain installed.

The OBR Top Stories