First an urgent announcement that may help some un-bunch their associated panties:
Browns team owner Randy Lerner has not made it a pre-requisite that head coach Eric Mangini is retained during subtle discussions regarding "football czar" position.
The issue here, though, is perception. And perception can be a killer.
Lerner's talk of expecting the head coach to return in 2010 - along with the head coach himself talking as if he has been told he is not going anywhere - provides the perception he will demand any executive willing to take on the task of righting the Browns ship must do so with Mangini patrolling the sidelines.
Lerner has to be careful with this search and the process it takes. Candidates with a preconceived notion that Mangini is going to be forced upon them will back out or display little interest.
This move is too important for an organization to base itself on Eric Mangini's existence -- and only Randy Lerner can kill the perception.
With all this talk, you would expect the Browns and Lerner are far into the process of identifying their next/first VP/GM. Au contraire, my friends, Lerner is not on the cusp of making a move and those in league circles tell theOBR this is likely to play itself out in the early off-season, unless something changes -- such as an unexpected 'name' being willing to take on the monumental task.
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Early on, when Lerner spoke of adding a credible presence within the front office of the organization. Due to this admission by Lerner and the expectation that such a move would happen quickly, some names were dropped in connection with the Browns post.
As we come to find in the days since Lerner's proclamation of the team's new front office direction:
* Former Green Bay HC and Seattle HC/GM Mike Holmgren is a candidate, and one which Lerner holds in high regard. Holmgren is playing the waiting game, and is a high-profile and viable option for the Seahawks again. Holmgren is believed to be closely monitoring the Seattle situation, as he still resides in the area and loves the great Northwest.
* One name which was included early and seemingly forgotten is Charley Casserly. Casserly is on the Lerner list, but not one of the more impactful names.
* Floyd Reese, presently working for the New England Patriots and formerly of the Tennessee Titans, has an impressive resume and is a man of interest to the Browns. The stability within the Tennessee organization is a attribute Lerner seeks in Cleveland. Reese was right in the middle of the Titans operations until losing a battle with head coach Jeff Fisher on personnel matters.
* The biggest catch would be the Big Tuna himself, Bill Parcells. Lerner has longed for the success Parcells brings to an organization and his respect for the man is immeasurable. While many consider Lerner luring Parcells to Cleveland a long-shot, there has been more than subtle talk around the league about Parcells possibly having the 'itch' to take on another monumental task -- and Cleveland would fit the bill.
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Weiswatch: With former New England offensive coordinator and Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis now available, the Browns are one of a handful of teams who would be tempted to put out a welcome mat. Weis is a very strong offensive mind would provide a team such as the Browns an experienced, capable and battle-tested mastermind calling the shots for the offensively-challenged team.
Last week, starting QB Brady Quinn openly noted he would like to work with his former Fighting Irish mentor again. There was some surprise that the QB say that directly, despite his excellent relationship with Weis, given that the Browns have an offensive coordinator in place presently.
If the Browns brain-trust seeks to immediately improve the offense and believe Quinn can be a legitimate starter in this league, Charlie Weis is the right man to put the Cleveland offense and Quinn back on the map.
Weis still contends Quinn has all the qualities to be an excellent NFL QB, as he did three years ago when the Browns selected the QB in the first round of the college player draft.
While Weis and current head coach Eric Mangini have a history of being on staff together in New England under HC Bill Belichick, it is unknown whether issues between Belichick and Mangini would impact Weis' enthusiasm for the Browns. Conversely, the same can and should be noted regarding Mangini, who called Weis a "friend" earlier today. It is unclear if the Browns head coach would offer the position to the another Belichick disciple who remains close to the man to this day.