People running football teams like to have working for them individuals they know. There's a comfort in that. Great minds think alike, or something like that, at least.
And so it has been with the expansion Browns since they were born in 1999.
When Chris Palmer was head coach for those first two seasons, Carmen Policy was team president and Dwight Clark was director of football operations, the club looked like a combination between the San Francisco 49ers, with whom Policy and Clark had been, and the Jacksonville Jaguars, with whom Palmer had been.
And when Eric Mangini was hired as head coach last year, he brought a lot – a lot – of the New York Jets with him.
Now with Mike Holmgren about to take over as team president, the Browns are ready to become a combination of the three teams he has been with – the 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. Rest assured that all the people he'll be bringing in to work with him in various capacities will have ties to one, maybe two or possibly even all three of those clubs.
Holmgren was an assistant with the 49ers when they were great, and then as head coach, he helped turn the Seahawks and Packers from losing franchises into winning ones. The Browns are hoping he can do the same here.
He did those two rebuilding jobs by changing not just people, but attitudes, so expect the same here. As president of the entire organization, he'll be able to orchestrate all those changes, which is exactly the way it should be with one man, whose track record indicates he knows what he's doing, making the decisions and not some consortium.
Mangini keeps saying it takes time to overhaul a team, which may be true in some respects, but that isn't the case that much anymore in today's NFL, where free agency has really speeded up the process. You can overhaul a roster pretty quickly.
And anyway, Browns fans will ask, what about all those overnight, worst-to-first scenarios that have happened in other places? Why not here, finally? Why not with the Browns?
That will be something Holmgren needs to consider as he tries to put this team – and organization – together the way he sees fit. While he wants to build something will endure – that will last – he also has to be mindful that Browns fans have waited a long time – a long time – for a consistent winner.
Thus, he has to get this thing turned around ASAP. People don't want to hear about "the process" that Mangini always talks about, or how it took this many seasons in one place to do the job, or that many seasons in another. Those are dog years at this point.
The fans just want to see results. They want to see the bottom line.
That is, they want to see wins.
Browns fans are smart. They know when they're being conned, and when the progress is legitimate. So as long as they like what they see – and they really have liked what they've seen thus far with the hiring of Holmgren -- they'll be patient. But that will be only to a certain extent, and only for a certain amount of time. For all that has happened in the expansion era, and really, for the last two decades, that patience has already been worn razor-thin.
That's why it's so important for Holmgren to assess the organization as quickly as possible so he can make the needed changes and those people can hit the ground running and get the Browns headed in the right direction.
Whether those people come from Green Bay, Seattle, San Francisco or a combination thereof, time is of the essence.
The very essence.