August 15, 2014

Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert Address State of the Browns

“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.

On Shurmur…

“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?

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    @B-bo, I think I agree with every word you said.

  • Tommy

    Overall QB is the number one position that =’s wins in the NFL. Colt Mccoy can lead this team to a superbowl. But there are SO many things that need to be fixed around him, he will never get the chance. We need a RT, LG, FB, RB (maybe), 2 WR… even with all that. The Defense is still in transition b/c H&H decided to fire Rob Ryan. You can’t address all those positions and free agency is not the answer. The only answer is to let this debacle go on for another year, clean house, and start over.

  • mgbode

    @B-bo/Craig – I agree too. Well said B-bo.

    (you didn’t meant OL is a priority at #4 though, right? just that it is a priority this offseason? i don’t mind Kalil being the fallback at #4, but would prefer Blackmon or Claiborne there)

  • http://www.mrrlaw.com tsm

    @orbiasi….as someone who tends to disagree with your views I want to let you know that I welcome them. One of the best things about WFNY is the exchange of views among fans in the comments section. Keep them coming. Now, to answer your question as to when we “hopeful” fans will become upset with the current regime….for me it will be if we don’t make a substantial move up next season. Withe 3 top choices and cap space as well as an off season of hard work on our system we need to approach the .500 mark. Another 4 or 5 win season will also have me questioning the ability of our leaders.

  • oribiasi

    @ tsm: You’re welcome. I’ll never feel like a lone wolf, crying in the wilderness because I know many, many people who think the same way as I do and can cite numerous factual instances of failings that can only be attributed to this regime.

    Those matter to me, the facts. Not this PR garbage that is as useful as a chocolate teapot. The facts tell me a story of mismanagement and possibly hubris. I smell it when people start saying “it’s not business as usual.” It’s been the downfall of almost every great leader in history and it worries me.

    Remember, he said that five wins wasn’t enough last year. He said this of his own volition; no one forced his hand. While this has been labeled a snipe around these parts (because it doesn’t jive with the wait and see/patience approach, so therefore it must be discounted), it is factual and it is discouraging…because it was forgotten by this regime and by the press, which should be ashamed of themselves for not bringing it.

    I guess they really want those playoff tickets. Yikes.

  • The Other Tim

    Lee Evans was awesome in Dynasty.

  • B-bo

    @Craig/mgbode Thanks, gents. I haven’t had my commenter hat on as much as I normally would of late, but I’ve found myself agreeing with both of you often on the various Browns issues. As far as OL with the #4 pick goes, I’m not saying it’s a must with that particular pick (Claiborne would be very nice there), though I think Kalil would be a great get as well, and one I’d feel more confident in him there than any WR or RG3.

  • mgbode

    @B-bo – thanks and fair enough. if we draft WR/RT with our 1A and 2 picks, then I would prefer Blackmon/Z.Sanders to Kalil/Sanu. But, it’s not like Kalil/Sanu would be a bad either.

    Oh, and I am very glad Sanu changed his mind and is coming out now. Adds a chance of getting that WR with our round2 pick now.

  • humboldt

    @B-Bo – the only objection I would make is that there’s a link between your points 2-4, about McCoy and the lack of playmaking receivers.

    As a former QB myself, I would be furious if I was being evaluated by a GM who was content to allow Brian Robiskie, MoMass, and a couple other marginal rookies (Norwood, Little) run routes for me. It was a strategic failure not to go after a FA wide receiver last year, and now it’s having downstream effects on the status of our QB and on our whole approach to the draft.

    If we knew better what we had in Colt it would make our draft much more intuitive (i.e. pick up offensive weapon in the first round). Let’s just hope they hit a home run this year.

  • B-bo

    @humboldt You are absolutely correct, and I don’t think Colt has gotten a completely fair chance because of the deficiencies of our receiving corpse (that’s not a typo). This is why I’m not willing to write him off just yet, but I do have serious concerns.

    @mgbode I do like Sanu as a second rounder for sure.

  • NJ

    If the Browns wanted to sign a vet to a short term contract, they clearly could have. The salary cap in the NFL was $120M in 2011. The Browns cap number, according the sources I found on the net, was $83M. (Yet the Dolan’s are the cheap ones just out to pocket your money.)

    I would have liked to seen us pick up some veteran WR. Not Evans because I wouldn’t have given a 4th rounder for him. Maybe Jericho Cotchery? Steelers got him for one year (not sure on the price).

    And yeah, he didn’t have a good year, but this team clearly could have used some sort of veteran presence in the receiving corps. From what I read, Cotchery is a good character. And he’s been decent. Without crunching the numbers, I’m going to guess that at the beginning of the season he had more career receptions than our entire corps combined. I’m sure he could have taught the kids some thing and set a good example. If we’re really about building a culture of winning and doing it right, why not add a guy like that to your roster.

  • dwhit110

    Perhaps the Browns waited to sign a WR because they had enough foresight to look another year ahead and saw who would be free agents this season…

    Wayne, Welker, DJax, VJax, Bowe, Garcon, Colston, Stevie Johnson, (the much discussed) Lloyd, Meachem, Doucet ALL will be free agents.

    That’s a pretty good group, clearly a couple of those guys resign, but we should be able to snag someone who can help out (personally I’d love to see Vincent Jackson in a Browns uni)

  • Steve-o

    At the beginning of last year’s draft process, the Panthers considered trading the first pick. Had that happened the fallout in Carolina would have been nuclear. Just as the perception was with Cam Newton, RG3 is considered by most to be a special player. Sure, it’s a risk, but one that a team without a franchise QB should take if it ever wants to be elite. If RG3 falls in our laps at four we will certainly take him. A trade in that scenario would be beyond idiotic.

    You do not draft Kalil unless you are trying to replace Joe Thomas. Probably not an option anyways since the Rams or Vikings will take him.

    If you really want Lee Evans I expect he will be available to any team offering him the veteran minimum this off season.

    Shurmur must prove next year that he can win as a head coach or he will be gone regardles of anything Holmgren has said in the past.

    H & H share share their offseason strategy with no one, as it should be.

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    I love this blog. Mostly great discussion above.

    That WR FA list is fascinating. I didn’t realize so many good WRs could be available this off-season. That said, I don’t know that the Browns could truly get any… and I worry that the Bengals will grab one since they have money, too.

    I believe strongly in the Browns’ plan. I don’t think rushing is the right approach.

    I would not be shocked (or upset) if the Browns either traded down or grabbed a defensive standout, particularly Claiborne. That would be fantastic, actually – two premier young CBs, a top young DL group, and a good LB corps? With solid depth? Count me in.

  • Leo

    The Browns need offense bad and hope the defense converges on the mean. Look around the league….many teams have incredible offenses and above average defenses. Its a passing league now and it’ll stay that way for years to come. Guarantee in 5 years more and more quarterbacks will throw for 5k yards. Browns need a legit QB, legit receivers and a nice running game. Its all about the offense baby!

  • Paulo

    @ EZZIE

    I AGREE WITH YOUR DEFENSIVE LINE PERSPECTIVE, A GOOD RDE, A REPLACEMENT FOR BROWN, AN A NEW LB.

    BUT I THINK THE OFFENSE IS MORE IN NEED OF GOOD PLAYERS, RT , IF WE COULD FIND A STUD RT, WE COULD HAVE ONE OF THE BEST OL IN THE LEAGUE, WITH STEINBACH. THEN WR, THEN A SOLID RB.

    WHATS YOUR OPINION ABOUT HARDESTY? I THINK HES NO GOOD, A LOT OF INJURIES, I PREFERE OGBANAYA.

    PAULO

  • Mattesonbrock

    we just need a good qb and keep hillis and we will be fine

  • Logan Gatchell

    I think try getting a Quarterback from another team maybe  Flynn. But don’t use a draft choice for
    aQB. We need help on the line.Don’t use the West coast offence It sucks.Use some  razzle dazzle in play calling. But the main thing protect the QB Not let him get killed.Use the Fullback more RUN HIM.& PASS toHIM out of the backfield. Pass a crossthe middle when you can.On a post pattern. Some times throw it long tolose them up. When you get down on the goal line PUT A BIG LINEMEN TO BLOCK FOR THE RUNNER OR FAKE UP THE MIDDLE GIVE IT OFF TO BACK AROUND END PULL A TACKLE FOR A BLOCKER! THAT”S ALL I HAVE TO SAY
       Logan gatchell ………logan.gatchell@att.net

  • Logan Gatchell

    I think try getting a Quarterback from another team maybe  Flynn. But don’t use a draft choice for
    aQB. We need help on the line.Don’t use the West coast offence It sucks.Use some  razzle dazzle in play calling. But the main thing protect the QB Not let him get killed.Use the Fullback more RUN HIM.& PASS toHIM out of the backfield. Pass a crossthe middle when you can.On a post pattern. Some times throw it long tolose them up. When you get down on the goal line PUT A BIG LINEMEN TO BLOCK FOR THE RUNNER OR FAKE UP THE MIDDLE GIVE IT OFF TO BACK AROUND END PULL A TACKLE FOR A BLOCKER! THAT”S ALL I HAVE TO SAY
       Logan gatchell ………logan.gatchell@att.net

  • Anonymous

    “Don’t use the West coast offence It sucks”

    ummm, you might want to not root for the Browns at least for a few years.  you see this WCO thing is sorta going to be what we run.  we have a President, FO members, GM, HC, OC and other coaches who have run primarily (or only) a version of the WCO their entire careers.  Sorry to be the one to ruin it for you.