Greetham: Spoken Like a Coach

Browns President Mike Holmgren has accepted a new role, but keeps his old perspective. Is the Big Show still toying with the idea of stepping back on the sidelines? Fred Greetham looks at Holmgren's remarks...

BEREA—Here are some thoughts on Mike Holmgren's pre-training camp session with the media Wednesday.

Holmgren has left the door open again that he might want to coach again. It truly appears that Holmgren wants it to work with Eric Mangini and will do whatever is necessary to make it work.

Recently, Holmgren made the following statement to USA Today:

"I think there is that possibility (of coaching again)," he said. "But, really not until I think I have accomplished what I need to do here."

There is some thought that if the Browns go in the tank early in the season, Holmgren might step in as the head coach. It could make sense as Holmgren has several former coaching assistants around him, including former offensive coordinator Gil Haskell.

One theory is that by keeping Mangini after Holmgren was hired, it would allow him to get back on the sidelines, as opposed to bringing in one of his guys and starting over. It would be tough for Holmgren to fire a coach he brought in less than two years.  On the other hand, if the Browns do well in 2010, Holmgren would be credited with making the right decision in keeping the 2009 coaching staff.

However, the Browns are not employing Holmgren's offensive system—the West Coast offense as many have assumed.  Many thought quarterback Seneca Wallace was brought to Cleveland because he knew Holmgren's system, but Wallace said in minicamp that the system was unfamiliar to him.

"Scheme wise, this is a different scheme," Holmgren said. "This is not my scheme, this is their scheme. Like with most things, there is more than one way to move the football and there is more than one philosophy. It's how you teach it, the type of a player you have, those things. This is a good group of coaches. While they have been very receptive to adding a little something here, a little something here from the West Coast (offense), that's not fair.

"I want to do this right with these guys, so it's their deal."

The Browns are not employing Holmgren's preferred defense—the 4-3, either. If Holmgren were to decide to make a change at head coach, it would make more sense to do it at the end of the 2010 season to make a complete makeover in offensive and defensive schemes.

Holmgren said he did not impose his system as part of the plan to keep Mangini as coach.

"Honestly, I think I made that decision before I accepted the job," he said. "Let me rephrase that. I think once we decided that we were not going to make a change, because that was in the discussion."

Holmgren is allowing Mangini to continue what he started last year.

"Every coach thinks he has the answer," he said. "I've been doing it a long time, a certain way and we've done things a certain way. I made the statement right when I got here, I said, ‘I don't know how you can win a game throwing the ball eight times a game.' I don't know how that can happen. I could never do that, but they did it."

Holmgren said that he is trying to do everything he can in his role to help Mangini and his staff turn the Browns into a winner.

"To make anything work, the people that have to make it work have to decide they are going to make it work," he said. "I'm committed to that. Let's flip it for a second. Let's say I was the coach. I lived through that a little bit. I was not the best one at coming in and having somebody telling me how to (do things). I was polite, but that wasn't a good thing.

"I remember consciously thinking, if this is what my job is going to be and I'm not going to coach the team, what kind of a president do I want to be for my coach," he said. "I'm trying to be that type of person, that type of guy, support him, answer questions, if necessary, but really, if I thought I couldn't do that or I thought he couldn't do it, then I probably should have made a different decision way back when, but I didn't. "

Holmgren admitted not being on the field making coaching decisions might be difficult for him.

"So, we're going to do it this way," he said. "Do I think this will be difficult for me? We'll see. We'll talk after a couple months of watching games and stuff like that. I suspect I'll get a little antsy about stuff, but I've been doing something for so long that this is a different thing. I think that's natural."

Holmgren was asked to make a prediction on this season and he politely declined, but he did say that he is optimistic about this year's team.

"Nice try," Holmgren said. "I'd like to say I'm as excited as I've ever been. But, I'm always excited at this time of year. It's the same and the difference for me is my role, obviously.

"I expect us to be better," he said. "I expect us to move the ball better. I expect us to pass the ball better for the reasons I stated earlier, more experience at wide receiver, one more year under their belt, more consistent play at quarterback. I think we have a pretty solid running game. We finished the season strong last year. We have added some pieces to that."

Holmgren let his thoughts be known regarding his feelings on the play of last year's quarterback play, whether it was Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn. He feels that all things being equal, the team will be better this year, if Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace just perform consistently.

"I think the team should be better," Holmgren said. "I think that our quarterback play should be more consistent, so start there.

"Just start there," he said. "If you did nothing else, if you had more consistent play at quarterback and everyone else played the same, you should be better. You should be better."


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