Browns President Mike Holmgren Press Conference 9-3-12
(On any updates regarding how long he plans to stay with the team) – "No, not really. I've never quit anything in my life. You guys know the timetable of this and it's been documented. The league has a meeting. We have our normal fall meeting in October in which case the voting will take place, which is standard protocol. Sometime after that the actual ownership change takes place, but we're all just doing our jobs. I've gotten to know him, Jimmy (Haslam) a little bit and he has gotten to know me. Probably more importantly he spent a fair amount of time with the rest of the people in the building, which is a healthy thing, it's a good thing. Everyone is just doing their jobs and he gets a chance to see them work, see what we do and then whatever happens, happens."
(On if he envisions himself completing his contract here) – "I hope so. That's what my plan is."
(On if new ownership brings uncertainty) – "If you've been in the business as long as I have nothing much surprises you. I think the one thing that has surprised me during the process is that, this has happened rather quickly compared to other teams being sold and purchased in the past. Other than that, I think all you can do is what you can do. I believe in the people we have here and they're going about business as usual. When I talked to the whole building a while ago, and not only the coaches and the football people, but everyone else in the building and just said ‘Look, you're good. We see light at the end of the tunnel, keep doing what you've been doing and we'll see what happens.'"
(On if the timing of the ownership change is disruptive) – "I think the players and I think the coaches have handled the whole thing beautifully. I would say no. Who knows what's in the deepest thoughts of people's minds if they don't tell you, but on the surface and how we're preparing and how we put the team together, I like what I see. I think they're going about business pretty well."
(On if the ownership change has sped up the timetable regarding expectations) – "No, I really don't think so. In my conversations with Jimmy, first of all he is a good man. My feeling is he's pretty realistic about the things you mentioned. He knows we're young, he asks a lot of questions, a lot of football questions and he is well aware of our situation. Now, I'll stick with what I've said all along even prior to this happening, that my expectations were that we're better this year. I've said that before and I'll say it again. That's how we're all judged ultimately."
(On if he imagined this team would be this young with 15 rookies on the roster) – "I saw that. I wasn't keeping track of that really and then I saw it and I don't want to say it startled me, but it's a pretty young group. Now, I suppose before we tee it up here, Pat might give me a chance to talk to the team, I hope he does. My message to them would be, ‘Look, we are young and everyone knows you're young. You can make excuses like that forever and ever, but the simple fact is no one will care.' I know they're smart and I know they care. I know they're good players and so what we lack in experience, my hope is that we make up for it in enthusiasm and intelligence and skill. We are young Mike (Snyder), yes, but we've chosen to build the team that way. I've said it before, building a foundation so the team can be good for a long time and we're just in that beginning stage now where we're pretty young."
(On if anyone in the organization is asking Jimmy Haslam any questions about his plans) – "I think so except for this Tony (Grossi) and the league is very clear about this, and I think Jimmy has been more than fair about it and clear about it himself. Up until the time the actual transfer of ownership takes place, I believe he said it in his opening press conference with you guys, that he's not in a position to or would even say anything about anything."
(On if he was surprised when Randy Lerner informed him about the possible sale) – "Like I said, the only thing that surprised me a little bit was the timing of when it happened. I've seen these things, I've voted on these things, but normally it happens in a little different time frame. That was the only thing. I mean, it's every owner's right, certainly it was Randy's right. It's his football team to do what he wants and this is a great opportunity with a great man in Jimmy Haslam so he decided to do it. Now, he certainly shouldn't and didn't have to ask my permission for anything. The surprise to me was when it happened not that it did happen."
(On how he analyzes where Brandon Weeden is in his development) – "I think it's pretty obvious to you guys too that he's a fine passer and he can really throw the ball. He's got good movement for a big guy. I guess he's right on schedule from where I thought he'd be. He got a chance to play in the preseason, get knocked around a little bit and go against some pressure teams in Detroit and Philly in particular. That was good, that will help, but I would also caution people (that) he is a rookie and he's going to be as good as any rookie starting coming into the league. He'll function as a quarterback as well as anybody in my opinion coming into the league, but he is still a rookie and it's difficult. Where he is, yes, he hasn't been a surprise to me he's right on target, I think."
(On how he got Brett Favre to the point where he really got going as a rookie) – "Brett? We had a young man with tremendous physical ability. I mean, unusual physical ability in throwing the ball and he always played the game a certain way and it kind of had been good for him. He could throw into small windows and he could take chances other quarterbacks couldn't take because of his ability to deliver the ball. So, he was a little bit at times out of control in my opinion. Now, I was a very controlling quarterback coach. That's how I wanted it done, that's how I was taught when I was with the 49ers and in Brett it just took a while for that to sink in just a little bit. I think I've told you this story that we were 9-7, going to the playoffs finally for the first time in a long time and we had the exit meeting with the players and I told him I said, ‘These are the things I want you to work on.' and he said, ‘Mike, I play the game the way I play the game.' I said, ‘Okay.', but I said, ‘then you're always going to be 9-7 or 8-8. You might have a good year but the team, that's where we're going to be and I know you want to be better than that. I know you do.' and he goes, ‘I do.' So I said, ‘Work with me on this and let's try and control this.' To his credit he did that."
(On a couple of the specific things from that exit meeting he was trying to get Brett Favre to work on) – "Well, I'll give you two examples, one in the red zone. We go down there and we call a play and he'd kind of throw it as hard as he can throw it. The defense never caught it, but we didn't catch a lot of them either. Then some of the decisions, it was hard, but it wasn't what I wanted him to do. He came back saw something and he was going to go for it. The red zone, to me, is a very interesting part of the game. That's why as long as I coached I always installed the red zone every place I went and that was my baby. That was my thing. I let Gil (Haskell) and the other coordinators do some of the other stuff, but the red zone was going to be mine. I took a lot of pride on how we did that and so that was one thing. He did control it, he got it and then the other thing was knowing during a game when a play is over for you. The competitive nature of these guys, they want to make every play, some of them think they can make every play and the fact of the matter is they can't and if you try to do that it hurts you. So, to try and balance that and not take away his fight and his competitiveness, but let's make good decisions, that was something he did. The end of that story was we were playing somebody and he came up on the airplane and sat next to me and said, ‘I get it, I finally get it.' We were playing somebody and we won a big game and I've had that little talk with Steve Young, I've had it with Matt Hasselbeck, I didn't have to have it with Joe Montana of course, he wasn't very good until I got him (jokingly). Those guys, they're competitors and they're young and they come into the league and they're going like crazy and then you just have to kind of work with me."
(On if there was a ‘What are you doing?' moment with Brett Favre) – "That's not quite what I said to him. In the early years, Steve Sabol from NFL Films, every once in a while they would want to wire me for sound and I'd say, ‘No, no we're not doing that.' ‘Please, let's do this.' Favre is a character and I was emotional so they thought it would be great and then he says, ‘We'll show it to you. Whatever we take we'll show it to you.' Well, he wasn't altogether truthful with that. There was so many. There was a lot of things because here is this wild kind of stallion, tremendous guy, loved him to death, loved coaching him, but goodness gracious at times it'd just be, then it got really good. From a coach or a teacher's standpoint it's like some of my students when I was teaching U.S. History or whenever I was teaching in school. You'd have a young kid come in and struggles with reading or whatever his problem is. Then, at the end of the semester, he writes a great paper, does great on the test and you go ‘Okay that is a good thing.' I know now why I am teaching and it was kind of like that with the football players too. No different."
(On if he has had that talk with Brandon Weeden) – "I'm not coaching. See I'm not his coach. I'm an executive, don't you know that? The coaches are pretty nice about letting me chat with any of the guys at any time, but honestly, that relationship that he has to have has to be with Pat and Brad Childress and Mark Whipple. They have to develop that. I can cherry pick and come in with a little word of wisdom every once in a while here, but that other thing has to happen at that level."
(On taking a big jump with younger players as compared to taking the jump with veterans) – "Yes and eventually that's the way it will be. If you line up a five-year program as an example, and again, Pat's in the second year of his thing. If you line up a five-year program about the time you hit that, that's the way it is. This football team, even though it's young, I think is physically much better. We are young, but we have better players and we have better depth. I believe our special team's has a chance to be much better. If you're going to build it the way we're going to build it, there's a chance you have these types of numbers. Now, I would say this, it's a credit to Tom Heckert and what he has done in the draft because you have a lot of draft guys who made your team for three years and there's no bias that way. We're going to keep who we feel are the best players to help us so Tom's done a great job and that's just how it's kind of come together now. It's exaggerated a little bit because the guys that are key guys for us, the quarterback, the running back, the right tackle, those types of guys, they're rookies."
(On if they knew Trent Richardson would have to have the type of surgery he did when they drafted him and if he worried about it) – "No, I mean we really didn't. The first we kind of knew about it was he had been through camp and then, he's a hard working guy as you know, and he starting saying it hurts. A little ache there and it swelled up a little bit. It's a good thing that we caught it, honestly and it was actually the right decision to make and everything went well and he's on track, but no. He didn't know. It's something that they call a little flap, it must have just happened when he was doing something out there."
(On what his expectations were for Trent Richardson when he was drafted and have those expectations changed due to the injury) – "I think the number of touches, if he is able to play in the first ball game. If he's able to play, he hasn't practiced for a while, and I've been in this situation before with players. When its close and you're really kind of counting on them. If he hadn't had the surgery, if he'd been able to have a full training camp, yes he was going to touch the ball a fair amount. That's the plan I believe. I don't know what Pat said, but I would think so. Now, you have to be careful because he hasn't practiced. The worst thing we could do is rush him before he is ready. So, that's a medical, training decision. They'll help us with that one."
(On Trent Richardson taking some pressure off of the passing game) – "Yes, I think regardless of how old or young you are. I don't think we thought that way where we say ‘Ok, we are young so we'll do this.' I think if you have the ability to get a back like Trent, you do it. You're not thinking about how young we are or any of those things you're just getting a good player. Now, you get a player like that I think it's fair to say that you believe that he can really solidify your running game. Now, you have to have a good offensive line, you have got to have some other things going there, but given that, if we can do that, then yes, it'll help our youth. If we can do that, as you well know, it just makes some of the other things easier."
(On his concern of Colt McCoy's popularity affecting Brandon Weeden) – "I was concerned about that after the draft, to be honest with you. I mean, I thought about it and I think I mentioned it to some of you and I feel the same way about Colt. I love him, he's a great kid. Any time you get a new quarterback and also the incumbent, who's not starting anymore, the first time an interception gets thrown or something happens, everybody wants to other guy to play. That's not just Cleveland, that's every place. Giving his popularity, I was thinking it might be even a little more. My biggest concern however, was how he was going to handle it. He has a lot of pride in his ability, which he should. He's a competitive guy. He's been a starter, got knocked around, all things that we talked about before and now he wasn't starting for the first time in a long, long time in his life. How do you handle that? He has chosen to, since that time when I was a little concerned, he has chosen to handle it about as well as a human being can handle it. Not only that, I think he's had a great camp. Now, I will tell you, I am less concerned with that whole thing than I was in April or whenever we had the draft. It reminds me a little, honestly we were talking about (Brett) Favre earlier, when I had Favre, (Mark) Brunell and Ty Detmer and the oldest guy was a two year veteran. We didn't have veteran quarterbacks, they were all young guys. That's what we have now, but I like our group."
(On if the draft selections was decided because of possible ownership change) – "No, not at all."
(On his concern with low level draft picks being a large part of defense and concern with injuries) – "That's a very fair question, particularly considering the injuries we've had. Then (Scott) Fujita not being able to play, Phil Taylor and (Chris) Gocong, those are the big three that were starters. You take them out of the mix and all of a sudden you do have younger people playing. The best thing I can say is, I think the younger people who we've inserted in there, certainly our draft choices of defensive lineman. I'm not saying I'm surprised, but I'm saying I'm very pleased with how they've conducted themselves in training camp and in the games. That turns out to be a really good thing that we did. The linebacker situation, you have young people that are going to have to stand up and play. That's just the way it is. Those are the two main areas of concern. Now, what balances that off for me is Dick Jauron. I have all the confidence in the world and the defensive staff. We have a good defensive staff. They know how to coach and the guys listen to them. That's the wild card, that's the one that balances it all for me. That gives me a chance to say,' Yes, I think we'll be even better on defense.'"
(On update on Joe Haden's possible suspension) – "(I) haven't heard. Those are things that we're not aware of and it's not information that's shared. It's just when it happens, it happens, if it happens."
(On the lack of updating on Haden's status) – "I don't know. With years of experience in this thing, some of those appeals things, the timing, there doesn't seem to be a uniform way of doing it. Sometimes it takes longer and sometimes it doesn't take long for the decision. All we can do, again, he's practicing. We have not heard anything."
(On if there is a general rule on when the league has to inform you on Haden's status) – "I really don't know if there's a general rule. That wouldn't be fair though. If there isn't a general rule, I'm going to ask them to make a general rule. That's not fair. I don't think they'd do that."
(On if he thinks he won't be suspended for Philadelphia because they are already in preparations for the game) – "I don't want to think too much about that one because I have enough things to get emotional about. It'll happen when it happens and we'll all deal with it when it happens."
(On if he's noticed a change in Pat Shurmur) – "He's not different with me. We have actually spent more time with one another at this time of the year compared to a year ago. He feels much better about knowing who he has. He's told me that. That seems to be pretty obvious. He is very involved in practice. It seems to me, as an observer, he's more involved with everybody than he was a year ago. I'm still learning his coaching style to be honest. Everybody does it their own way. When he calls the guys together, they listen to him. He has their attention."
(On his thoughts on how things will be different with Jimmy Haslam as owner compared to Randy Lerner) – "I think the one thing that Jimmy has said is you'll see him more. He'll be around more. He already has and I think in some of things you guys have seen him do already. I think that's him. I think that's how he conducts himself, whether it's talking about the Browns or his businesses or anything. He's pretty hands on. Again, I'm kind of finding that out myself as we go here. Randy wasn't that way. That was one of the reasons that I was able to come here. Different personalities, different ways of doing stuff."
(On if Randy Lerner is still involved with the team) – "I talk to him every week. It's a time period now, where it has to be a little unusual. He's as involved as he has been. We converse and we talk about things. He wants to know how things are going. It's a time period now that's a little different for everybody involved."
(On if Bob LaMonte has had discussions with Jimmy Haslam on how things go) – "No. In fact, I try to keep LaMonte away from Jimmy. No, that hasn't happened yet."
(On if his role were to change with the new ownership would he still like to be on board) – "That's a pretty good hypothetical right there. Please, let's work together on that. Let's just see how it goes. I can't answer that right now."
(On how he thinks his personality will change around the team with Jimmy Haslam's more hands) – "What's wrong with my personality? Let's slow down a little bit on that stuff and just see where it takes us, okay?"
(On if Jimmy Haslam talked to him about his dawg pound experience) – "Yes, in fact I sat next to him during the game. He came up after that, so he was sitting right next to me. I go, ‘Boy, you're working hard, he goes ‘I couldn't see much of the game'. I was watching him from up there with my binoculars and he was. There was quite a crowd around him most of the time when the game was going on. That was interesting. He got a little taste and he met some wonderful people, people who have been season ticket holders for 30 years. So, he got a little taste of what that was like in there. He wanted to do that. Good for him."
(On if he will attend the owner's meeting in Chicago and will Randy Lerner be there) – "I can't speak for Randy, I don't know that. Bryan Wiedmeier, Jimmy (Haslam) and I will represent the Browns. That's the plan right now."
(On what he's learned about Brandon Weeden over the course of camp) – "I guess what I've gotten to know is his personality. I think when you're around a guy, you scout a guy, and you go ‘Okay he's a good football player, or he's a good passer, or he can do this and that', but you don't really know him like you get to know him. Since he's been here, he's really quite a guy. I guess the best thing I've learned is this guy will be a great leader. That's the measureable sometimes that's hard to gauge when you're looking at young guys in college."
(On if it's hard with all the rookies to stand on the sidelines and not ‘coach') – "The coaches are great, so it hasn't gotten any harder. Why someone gets into coaching in the first place, is because you like to do exactly what you said. You like to see young people, you like to see them develop and you like to have a helping hand in doing that. When I was coaching high school or whatever, that didn't change. Now, I don't get to do that, I have a different role. I told you when I decided I wasn't coaching anymore I can't make that decision and then complain about what I don't get to do. That doesn't make any sense. One of the great joys of my life was doing that. I think there are little things here and there that I can help. Whether it's talking to the player directly, or talking to the position coach, or one of the coordinators or Pat (Shurmur). I still get to do that a little bit. I'd be lying to you if I didn't tell you I missed it."
(On if he's concerned with the replacement officials) – "Not at all."
(On how the replacement officials will affect these games) – "It's a situation that those guys that will work the games, I'm convinced that they'll do the best job they can do. I am convinced of that. I think (that's what) everybody wants and you want this with the regular guys as well. Just be consistent on both sides for each team, do the best job you can do and you really have no gripes after that. I think they're going to do a great job."
(On from what he's seen in preseason if he thinks the team will be better than 6-10 this year) – "I hope so Mary (Kay Cabot). Anytime we actually talk about the numbers and the wins and losses, I get a little squirrelly. I don't mean to back track or anything like that. I think we're playing in the NFC East, our division's tough. Everyone's good, but we play a pretty good schedule. Having said that, I think we're going to be a better football team this year."
(On the front office and coaching staff's connections to the Eagle's adding layers) – "Yes it does. I spent some time with Andy (Reid) at the preseason game. He knows me so well (and) I know him so well that I think when we tee it up on Sunday, he don't want to see me and I don't really want to see him. We said what we had to say. I'll talk to him on Monday. That organization, the people in that organization from the owner on down, I like a lot. They're good people and they've been good. Andy's one of my best friends in the business. A lot of their guys are here now. It makes for an interesting dynamic. It kind of reminds me of all those years when I would compete against a guy like a (Steve) Mariucci, or (Jon) Gruden or Andy or any of these guys that worked for me that were very close with me. But you have to compete and you have to play the game. You go like crazy I think you even go harder against guys like that, that you know."
(On what he saw in Andy Reid when he first hired him) – "I told you I was in charge of the GA's (graduate assistants) when I was coaching at BYU and he was a GA. He was a graduate student getting his master's in journalism I think. Then, he was coaching football, so I was in charge of those guys and that's when I first met him. I watched him work, (he was a) hard working guy, smart and (had a) great personality. You see him on T.V. or you see him on a press conference now, and he really is quite different from then. I've had guys of the Philadelphia media or the national media go, ‘Why doesn't he liven it up a little bit at the press conference?' He chooses to do it a certain way, but that's not him. It really isn't. I helped him get a job at San Francisco State University where I coached when I got out of high school and followed him along. Same with Marty Mornhinweg, they were together kind of. He played for me in high school. All those connections. I just said, ‘Listen, if I ever get a chance to be a head coach, would you consider coming?', because I knew he was good. He had a great way with the players, hard worker and he was a good guy. That was an automatic. I remember when I hired him he goes ‘Please don't tell them how old I am.' He thought there was something to that, because I think he was 33 at the time. Good man."
(On how Andy Reid is doing since the loss of his son Garrett) – "He's doing as well as can be expected I think. I talked to him a little bit again the other night. Of course, we went to the funeral. I can't begin to understand how difficult that would be. I think he has a great support group there. People like him and they're willing to help him. He seems to be doing as good as you could do."
(On if he approaches the opener different than any other game when he coached) – "I haven't had that specific conversation with Pat (Shurmur) yet. I did not approach it that way. In fact, I couldn't give you the stat, but sometimes we played very well in the opener. It's a funny thing, when your team gets to be experienced and good, you seem to play well in your opener. Prior to that, anything can happen. That happened to us a few times, and then all of a sudden you go, ‘Okay that's what happened', or you play them on the road, or whatever it was. No, it's a long season, it's a wonderful lift if you can start off and win that first one. It would be a wonderful thing for us against a really good team, but it's a marathon not a sprint. I never put too much stock into that. It was a game, we prepared for the game and this is how we played it."