Browns-Chiefs: Report Card

The Sports Xchange evaluates the Browns performance, and where credit should reside...

The Browns finally lured their football leader when they announced that Mike Holmgren will join the team as president.

The Browns and Holmgren need to come to a financial agreement, but that should not be difficult. The Browns want Holmgren and he wants the Browns.

The move will be questioned. Holmgren has never run a front office, and his tenure as general manager of the Seahawks was met with mixed reviews. Not until a front-office leader was placed above Holmgren in Seattle did the Seahawks reach great heights.

But Holmgren brings a wealth of football knowledge and experience to Cleveland, and he will not be asked to do two jobs but one. Clearly Holmgren will hire his own general manager, and he also will decide on the future of coach Eric Mangini. The Browns will be his team.

How things play out with Mangini will be interesting. The Browns have won two in a row and are playing better, but Mangini's style and personality are far different from Holmgren's.

Holmgren has said it's not fair to fire a coach after one year, but also said sometimes tough decisions must be made. He also is close with Bill Parcells, who fired Cam Cameron after one bad season in Miami.

It also will be interesting to see if Mangini wants to work for the Browns with Holmgren as his boss. Clearly, Mangini will not have the power he tried to take before Holmgren arrived.

The move should take a large step toward ending the chaos that has surrounded the Browns this season. Holmgren is a smart guy who knows the game and knows the league.


--RB Jerome Harrison had his jersey sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after his record-setting performance in Kansas City. Harrison's jersey will be in the NFL Today exhibit after he ran for 286 yards, the third-best day in NFL history.

Harrison's performance was surprising and stunning. He had not had a strong game in more than a year. His season-best total was 246 yards in 2008. He gained more than that in one game in Kansas City.

"It's ups and downs," Harrison said. "Things don't always go as planned, so the best thing is to keep working hard, keep praying to God and let it fall as it may."

The Browns knew Harrison had talent when they drafted him, but he never saw the field a lot. Given 34 carries, he produced a day for the memory banks -- and record books.

--KR Josh Cribbs continued his incomparable efforts with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in Kansas City. Cribbs' jersey will be sent to the Hall of Fame along with Jerome Harrison's for display.

Cribbs has an NFL-record eight kickoff returns for touchdowns in his career, and he has four returns for scores this season (three on kickoffs, one on a punt return).

Used properly, Cribbs is one of the most dangerous players in the league.

When he's focusing on returns and not being forced into the offense, he's used properly.

Cribbs can score any time he touches the ball.

--QB Brady Quinn had a four-game streak without an interception halted when he threw two in Kansas City. Quinn completed just 10-of-17 passes, but the way Jerome Harrison was running he didn't need to throw more.

--FB Lawrence Vickers threw a key block on two of Harrison's three touchdown runs. Vickers had several other good blocks. His contributions often are lost, but he's among the Browns most consistent players.

--P Reggie Hodges goofed by not trying to kick an errant snap out of bounds of falling on the ball in the end zone. Snapper Ryan Pontbriand misheard the signal and snapped too soon. It hit the arm of fullback Nick Sorensen, but Hodges hesitated instead of acting quickly when the ball went into the end zone.

--RB Jerome Harrison broke the team's single-game rushing record with 286 yards. The record had been held by Jim Brown, probably the greatest football player of all-time.

--LT Joe Thomas had another strong game, which is not surprising. Thomas has been the Browns most consistent player all season, regularly shutting down the right-end pass rush and blocking well for the running game.


PASSING OFFENSE: C -- One might wonder how much of a passing game was needed when the Browns had a back run for 286 yards. The answer: Not much. Brady Quinn threw just 17 passes for 66 yards, but thanks to Harrison and KR Josh Cribbs the Browns scored 41 points. One of many oddities in the Browns season is that the team's quarterback did not throw for 100 yards in any of the team's three wins.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A-plus -- When a back runs for 286 yards and a team gains 351 there isn't much to do but offer effusive praise. The Browns had not run like this in a long, long time, and for whatever reason the floodgates opened. It's been a long season in Cleveland, so the fans and team should simply enjoy what turned into an epic run-game performance.

PASS DEFENSE: D-minus -- Matt Cassel had a huge game with 322 yards and two touchdowns -- and it might have been a lot more had the Chiefs not dropped several passes. The Browns defense did little to win the game except be on the field for the plays it was required to be on the field.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- Jamaal Charles continued a season-long trend by running for 154 yards. The Browns' run defense has simply been poor all year long, and Kansas City, a three-win team, ran at will. Teams won't win many games playing defense like the Browns did. That they did is a testament to their running game and special teams.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Josh Cribbs is simply an amazing player. He ran back two kickoffs for touchdowns, the seventh and eight of his career -- both NFL records. Why any team kicks to Cribbs is beyond explanation, but they do. Eventually Cribbs makes teams pay. The only special teams blemish was a bad snap on a punt that gave Kansas City a touchdown. But not even that gaffe can wipe out Cribbs' accomplishments.

COACHING: C -- Yes, the Browns won. Yes, they had some special performances. And yes, they are still playing hard with a bad record. But few NFL teams give up or fold when they only have 16 games to prove themselves. Eric Mangini has now won two in a row, but those wins were the Browns second and third of the season -- against 11 losses.

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