Rich's Rant: What Do You Do, Mr. Holmgren?

With today marking the official start of Holmgren's presidency, the esteemed Mr. Passan looks at what the new prez might do. And wishes him the best of luck on whatever path he chooses...

You're Mike Holmgren. And today, you begin the newest chapter in your life when you become president of the Cleveland Browns.

You arrive with great fanfare and a fan base chock full of great expectations. Your reputation as one of the sharpest football minds in the business precedes you.

You have been given the keys to the kingdom by an owner who hasn't gotten it right in seven seasons when it comes to structuring his front office. But in choosing you, he has made his wisest move.

A lot of Browns fans around the globe (yes, every continent except Antarctica) are counting on you to drag Cleveland Browns football out of the morass in which it has resided the last 11 seasons. They can't help but see the enormous success you have enjoyed in the National Football League and expect big things from you.

Certainly you must be aware of the immense pressure to succeed that awaits. Anything short of at least one Super Bowl appearance within the next five years will be considered a failure.

Playoffs? That's a much more immediate goal for the zealots. And don't go all Jim Mora on them ("Playoffs?! Don't talk about playoffs! Are you kidding me? Playoffs?!. I'm just hoping we can win a game, another game!") if the Browns don't play post-season football in January as soon as your first season.

Tough town, tough crowd in Cleveland. But you have to understand the frustration with which they have dealt since the return in 1999. It has boiled over to the point of unrealistic expectations. All they want is for Browns football to be fun again.

All the bucks from now on will stop at your new desk as you carve out a new direction for the team. You will receive the major portion of the credit if the team does well. And you will also receive the major portion of the criticism if it doesn't.

You are now the face of the franchise.

Difficult decisions lie directly ahead, not the least of which is how you handle the head coaching situation. What in the world do you do with Eric Mangini? You've got to admit the Browns have looked pretty good the last month or so.

Do you keep him even though the club lost 11 of its first 12 games and looked like one of the worst teams in NFL history in doing so? Do you go down the path of least resistance and give him another year and risk that the season-ending four-game winning streak was not a fluke?

Has it been good enough to save his job or do you add his name to the list of dead-money recipients your new boss is already paying (Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel)? That might be a strong enough reason for him to strongly suggest Mangini's retention.

Or do you utter the words most bosses use when use when dismissing someone and merely thank the coach for all he's done, wish him well and show him the door? Perhaps rely on the time-worn reason that you have decided to go in another direction.

That's a tough one. No one said this job would be easy.

How can you ignore how the Browns have played the last four games? Penalties way down. Same with turnovers. They actually looked like a team with some talent.

You have said it would be unfair to fire a coach after just one season. But you did not say you wouldn't do it, anyway. Since we don't know you that well, it's a little tough reading between the lines.

No, this isn't an attempt to lobby for Mangini's return. To the contrary. In a case such as this, firing Mangini most certainly would be addition by subtraction.

You're meeting with him in the next day or two to discuss his future in Cleveland. Expect him to lobby hard. That's only natural.

But you need to be aware that Mangini is a very good salesman. He's a smooth talker and can be very persuasive. That's how he landed this gig in the first place.

So what do you do? How do you escape this conundrum?

Simple. Take charge, do what you believe is in the best interests of the Cleveland Browns and begin the new era with people you can trust, people you can rely on and people with a track record of producing.

That would eliminate the likes of Mangini, whose one-year stay in Cleveland will be filed under forgettable with two exceptions. He beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.  And, believe it or not, he's the only coach since the return to post four victories in a row.

You're Mike Holmgren and you've got a job to do. And you'll do what needs to be done in order make the game fun again for the fans.

They're counting on you to not let them down.

Good luck.

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