“I have confidence. We will get this done.” – Mike Holmgren
Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert didn’t pull a lot of punches in my opinion. Without throwing anyone under the bus, and while trying to be supportive of current players and coaches, they indicated that they need to get better across the board from year one to year two of the Pat Shurmur era. On a high level, Heckert seemed satisfied with the progress of the defense, but was willing to acknowledge that he and the organization need to spend some serious time and effort injecting talent into the offense. I thought Holmgren and Heckert were less critical than they could have been, but reading between the lines, I think we can make some educated guesses about how they feel about certain phases of the team.
Mike Holmgren also did a good job trying to control the message out of Berea. The team isn’t where they want to be and they must get better from this year to next, but he made a special point to tell the media that he, Tom Heckert and Randy Lerner are committed, care deeply and want nothing more than to turn this thing around and get better. Some will undoubtedly call it lip-service and groan or roll their eyes, but it is this kind of re-assurance and consistent message that is important out of an organization that relies on fan faith.
Yes, the team needs to back it up by winning on Sundays, but if they can stem a few of the “carpetbagger” type tides that indicate Mike Holmgren only cares about money and all Randy Lerner cares about is soccer, then I am all for the Browns repeating this kind of sentiment ad nauseum on their way to trying to fix this team.
On Colt McCoy…
The Browns seem to still like Colt McCoy as a guy and recognize that he is still young and could improve. They claim (and I believe them) that they will evaluate everyone available in free agency and the draft. Mike Holmgren also said that he’s seen lots of QBs go through seasons like Colt McCoy had this season and then blossom later. He went as far as to say it “usually” goes this way.
My interpretation, though, is that the Browns will not be afraid to bring in a new QB, but they won’t force the issue whether it be RG3 or Matt Flynn or anyone else. Colt McCoy isn’t finished with the Browns, but he will more than likely have to beat someone out for the right to remain the starter. Whether that is a free agent or someone from the third round of the draft this year remains to be seen. I’m guessing it will be someone other than Seneca Wallace.
On Free Agency…
The Browns will continue to find free agents and bring them in, but their goal is still to build primarily through the draft. Teams grab an extra win or two in certain years by going through free agency, but as a general rule the Browns are going to build through the draft.
On wide receivers…
When talking about your own players, Holmgren stated that they will always be more positive than negative. The Browns think they have some things to work on. He thinks, specifically they see some things they would like to build on with Greg Little. The Browns feel they need to upgrade all over the offense, not just wide receivers.
The message here is that they want the guys on the roster to continue to work hard, but that the team will probably be adding to the competition in training camp. This isn’t anything we couldn’t have already guessed.
“He is good. He is smart and he will do whatever it takes in an unselfish manner to make the team better.” Holmgren wouldn’t get into specifics about what that does and doesn’t mean because he doesn’t know yet. “If we’re 4-12 again next year, I won’t be happy.” “I expect to have a better record next year.”
While Holmgren went on to criticize the philosophy and notion of a pre-season “Hot Seat” he seemed to keep the pressure on his coach to improve from year one to year two. He expressed confidence that Shurmur was smart and adaptable enough to do it. Hot seat or no, I am guessing if the Browns finish next season 4-12 Shurmur will have a tough time keeping his job barring seriously extenuating circumstances.
On draft picks…
“We positioned ourselves to have draft picks to fill the holes on this team.” To me that doesn’t sound like an organization that is going to put a blockbuster package together for Andrew Luck, does it?
Mike Holmgren ended the presser strangely. He claimed it was off the record and said to the media, “If we take a defensive player with the 4th pick in the draft, would that upset you?” How’s that for some juicy misdirection?