Last night I wrote about how I don’t really see Mangini surviving the Mike Holmgren hire. Regardless of what happens with Mangini or whether or not you think he deserves more time or the boot, I will be interested to find out about what the new Browns structure will look like.
Obviously the head of everything football will be Mike Holmgren as team president. Holmgren gets to think about the Browns from the 10,000 foot view. I am guessing he will have plenty of people reporting to him. Most notably, I would expect and hope that he will have the head coach and the GM both report to him directly as equals. This way the GM and the scouts and personnel people get to do their jobs, the coaching staff gets to do their jobs and any crossover input from the GM to the coaches or the coaches to the GM will be filtered through Mike Holmgren while Holmgren simultaneously sets the overall tone and direction for the organization.
So basically what Randy Lerner has finally farmed out to Mike Holmgren are what many teams have as the owner’s duties. That isn’t to say that it is a good idea to have the owners involved in football decisions like Jerry Jones and Al Davis. It is just to say that in many situations in the NFL we see owners serving as the providers of direction and also breaking ties in decisions between the GM and the coaching staff. I hope this is what Holmgren will do here in Cleveland. Ideally you would have a pretty cohesive trio (President, GM, Head Coach) that would agree more often than not. But at least this way we (hopefully) won’t end up with another Savage vs. Crennel or Mangini vs. Kokinis situation where the GM and coaches are almost battling each other. It should also completely remove the potential for a Butch Davis power grab maneuver when he and Pete Garcia basically ousted Dwight Clark.
Whether Mangini is here or not, I would think it will be good to have the GM and coaches as equals on the org chart answering to the president. That way all goals should be equally represented. Coaches probably representing the need for immediate benefits. GMs with slightly longer-ranging goals and more thoughts to salary cap, etc. And then the president on top of both helping to balance between immediacy and long-term needs while also providing direction to both the scouting departments and coaching staff.
And that is the best potential benefit of having Mike Holmgren on board. If and when the Browns do hire another coach or if he keeps Mangini, Holmgren should be able to provide some direction and expertise from a coaching perspective. He should hopefully be able to provide the credibility to the organization so that no one player or clique of players can hijack the team. I obviously can’t tell you completely what happened with Jamal Lewis and his locker room politics, but suffice to say it might have gone differently with a guy like Holmgren on board with this team. Stability, credibility and progress would be a nice thing in Berea for once since 1999.
One final note I will leave with you. This is a good hire by Randy Lerner. Then again, it is far from guaranteed to work. But this is the nature of the NFL. Sometimes good bets don’t work out. Butch Davis was a great hire at the time he was hired. That ultimately didn’t work out. Courtney Brown was a great draft pick when he was drafted. It didn’t work out. Certainly I think Mike Holmgren should be able to offer an improved situation in Berea. At the same time, he still has to hire a GM and figure out what he is going to do with his coaching staff going forward. There are still plenty of potholes that he could hit along the way. I just know he is a better driver than the one we have behind the wheel today.