Mike Holmgren is doing a different job than Bill Parcells

Holmgren Speaks

One thing that has been abundantly clear from Mike Holmgren’s time with the Browns is that until the team starts winning, there are fans who will doubt everything he does or doesn’t do. In fact many have wondered, what, exactly, it is that he does do for the Browns. When Mike Holmgren had a chance to talk to Tony Rizzo and Aaron Goldhammer from The Really Big Show on ESPN Cleveland today, he mentioned that people mistake his job for the role that Bill Parcells played in Miami.

“The job sometimes gets confused I think because coach Parcells went into Miami just a few years before I took this job.” Holmgren said. “I’ve talked to Bill about what he did there and he was football and personnel. He didn’t coach the team you’ll remember, but he was involved with the personnel even though he had a general manager and all those things.”

In Holmgren’s role with the Browns he is responsible for the business side of things including stadium issues like suites and repairs. Holmgren acknowledged the learning curve but made clear to delineate between that role he fills for the Browns as team President and what Parcells did as Executive Vice President of Football Operations.

It is an important distinction because while Holmgren’s fingerprints are on this team, it certainly seems that he has allowed Tom Heckert to be the actual general manager. Also different is the style of building the team. As Parcells chased star players like Jason Taylor, the Browns have brought in some veterans, but focused more on building through the draft and with youth.

Holmgren did say that he meets with Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur every day, but it was a rare day that he gets to sit in on a coaching meeting. It is good to hear from Holmgren and get some clarification on how he conducts the business of the Cleveland Browns, but ultimately none of it will matter to most fans until they start winning games.

Holmgren has yet to deliver a season as good as Parcells’ 11-5 season and playoff appearance in 2008, but hopefully when the rebuild is complete one playoff appearance won’t be Holmgren’s legacy with the team. If you were to talk to most Dolphins fans, I think they’d be sorely disappointed that Parcells delivered one playoff appearance before sinking to back-to-back 7-9 seasons in 2009 and 2010.

  • mgbode

    if you build a fancy building with no foundation, then that building will not last.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    Was this inside a fortune cookie? :-)

  • Saurabhgup

    yet he “urged” the staff to trade up for Richardson.  No reason for fan confusion at all on his job “duties.” 

  • MrCleaveland

    Holmgren did a local radio show? He must have lost a bet or something.

    Seriously, I hope he continues this. His Mr. Invisible act isn’t cutting it here. He can be a very effective spokesman when he wants to be. Fans want to love him — or at least like him. But he’s got to stay engaged.

  • MrCleaveland

    //Thread hijack, but forgivable//

    WFNY guys,

    On behalf of the readership, I’d just like to say how nice the new ad rotation is.

  • dan

    A playoff season and two 7-9 seasons? Wow, that sound so much worse than 5-11, 4-12, and… no, wait, actually, it sounds like Parcells did better in Miami than Holmgren is doing in Cleveland.

    Man, I wish that one day I could be “disappointed” by a playoff appearance.

  • http://twitter.com/matt_gullatta matt_gullatta

    Actually, at this point… I’d take a 7-9 season. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/lmclaughlin16 Luke McLaughlin

    I agree.

    Having a playoff appearance be a disappointment must be nice. 

  • mgbode

    naw, putting ‘in bed’ at the end of it would make no sense at all :)

  • mgbode

    I think people misunderstand the point of the Parcell’s portion above.  Parcell’s hired a bunch of veterans that he’d known at other places and was able to get a “flash-in-the-pan” playoff team cobbled together.   Sort of the same idea that Mangini was doing here in his time (though with a better eye for talent).

    Once he left, the veterans dissipated and now the Dolphins are considered one of the worst franchise situations in the NFL.  He didn’t build the foundation to last, he just built it to make a playoff run.   Sure, the Butch playoff appearance and ‘almost’ Romeo one are nice to have.  But, wouldn’t it be nice to have a team that competes for the playoffs EVERY year.   That is the goal of what Holmgren/Heckert/Shurmur are doing right now.

    They may not succeed in it (or they could succeed), but I like the idea and believe it is the right way to go about things.

  • Harv 21

    “In Holmgren’s role with the Browns he is responsible for the business side of things including stadium issues like suites and repairs.”

    My questions: 1) what previous experience/expertise did he bring to this job description, and if none why did the Browns want him? 2) Who is in charge of the football operations here? If  Holmgren has a right to insert himself into the football side at crucial times – drafting decisions, offensive and defensive schemes, whatever – then Heckert isn’t really the guy. Holmgren’s role may not be always breathing on everyone’s neck in football ops like Parcells, but he’s not a suite sales/stadium funding guy like John Collins either. More like a family patriarch who has the right to demand at any time to be filled in and even make the final call on whatever he wants.

    Maybe this can work, as long as Heckert and the head coach don’t see Holmgren as overbearing or obstructive of what they are doing, and they really all have the same vision. If this is what Holms does it’s probably good that Lerner is uninvolved, since he’s acting like a very activist owner.    

  • DontbringLBJback

    You can’t win football games, much less playoff games, without a great team.  Holmgren has not had that, and I think he is trying, but we’re just not there yet.  Hopefully (Good Lord, I hope so) we are closer to a contender than we have been in some time, but (big BUT) we still need a few more pieces. 

    When we all did that little exercise on which games the Browns could win this year, and most of us had them coming in at 4-12, 5-11, or 6-10, we had not had the draft to predict wins and losses.  Now that we have T Rich and Weeden, my guess is that we might win one more game, and that’s if Weeden shows up from day one and leads this team.  But WR is still a glaring hole that needs to be filled on this team (unless by some miracle we get unexpected production out of the current group), as well as a quality Line Backer, Corner Back, some additional help on the Offensive Line.

    I like the road we’re on, but we’re still a long way from getting to where we need to be.  The next two years will be interesting…. and hopefully fun (instead of painful).

  • PNR

     Didn’t he also push strongly for Colt in the 2010 draft?

  • mgbode

    1.  The hope that he could be a football lifer who has the capability of building a quality organization from the top down, while giving the FO some needed credentials in the NFL community.

    2. Is it Gil Haskell officially?   Heckert is the GM, but all GM’s report to either an owner or president and can be over-ridden at times.   By all reports, everyone works together.  That is a good thing.

    I like your analogy to a family patriarch.  I think that is apt.

  • mgbode

    I’ve already bet the over on 5.5 wins :)

  • Harv 21

    Building the org from the top down, or general organizational oversight three years in, is not how Holmgren just described his duties.  And that was my point #1. He’s a HOF-level coach, not HOF-level anything else.

    Ugh, enough sounding like a Browns football lifer, repeating the same tired points in pavlovian response to the same Browns non-stories. Hey, Tribe plays tonight for like the 4th time in 48 hours!  Win tonight and take another series, then another, and another … 

  • mgbode

    yep, the Tribe at least wins it’s divisional games

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Oh see I didn’t know Holmgren wasn’t involved with player personnel I guess all those reports saying he put his two cents in on QBs were false.  Hasn’t most of Holmgren’s press conferences revolved around players or am I mistaken?  I know he’s given more then Tom Heckert.

    Next time there is a question concerning the business side such as stadium issues I’ll expect to see Holmgren otherwise paging Mr. Heckert, Mr. Heckert.

  • dan

    “But, wouldn’t it be nice to have a team that competes for the playoffs EVERY year.”

    Sure, that would be nice. But why stop there? Why not have a team that wins the Super Bowl every year for the next ten years? Wouldn’t that be nicer?

    The kind of team that is in playoff contention every year, for an extended period of time, is a team with a franchise quarterback. Perennial Pro Bowler. A guy in the conversation for the Hall of Fame, that sort of thing. It’s a lot of luck to get that kind of player, but if you want one, the best place to get them isn’t where the Browns have been looking. You want a team that’s in playoff contention every year, then do what Wadington did, and then hope that RG3 turns out to be the guy. Otherwise, you can have a couple of years, two or three or maybe if you’re lucky even four, when you can make a run, then things will go to pot and you have to start again.

    So, actually, no, I don’t want a team that competes for the playoffs every year, because to get that team will need a team that competes for the first pick on the draft for a few years to come. I’d rather have a team that’s ready to go on a playoff run so I can enjoy the next couple of seasons.

  • Kildawg

    I’d like to think that we got the O-Line help (best pure RT in draft w/ Schwartz and the 5th rd pick for depth). I agree that WR is biggest need obviously, and depth is needed for LB (possible weak side starter, might find replacement for Fujita, like Gocong on strong side) as well as DB (starting FS longer term, Brown could move here, Young and Hagg are current options).

  • mgbode

    there’s more than one way to build a team.  baltimore hasn’t had a franchise QB.  pitt competed for years without one before ben.  both from our own division. 

    yes, franchise QB makes it easier.  but, having a base of young talent acquired through the draft that grows together helps that a great deal with or without that franchise QB.

  • mgbode

    he can offer his suggestions without controlling the entire process

  • dan

    Baltimore missed the playoffs three out of four years before drafting Flacco; I view them as on their second playoffs run, rather than one long era of playoff contention dating back to the 1990s. How long this run will last nobody knows, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they only have a year or two left. The Steelers were pretty hit-or-miss, as I recall, during the Tommy Maddox / Kordell Stewart era.

    Anyway, none of these teams, nor any other I’m aware of save possibly the 1999 Rams, followed the model of “5-11, 5-11, 4-12, maybe 6-10, playoffs!” that seems to be the, um, “plan” of the current management. I’ll stick to my belief that adding players at important positions and improving the win total by a few games a year is a better plan than the “sure, we’re losing now, but the teams is improving in ways that make no impact on the record, and one day, boom, there’s going to be a giant step forward” plan that seems to be the current one.

  • floydrubino

    This article is hilarious. Let’s go over Holmgren’s responsibilities.  “In Holmgren’s role with the Browns he is responsible for the business side of things including stadium issues like suites and repairs.” Really. So basically there is not going to be anything constructive about the accountability of the Browns front office. So when Kendall Wright was taken they were not ready for a scenario that played out like that. There is a lot of things right now to be critical about with Holmgren and this site has I guess taken an approach of placating us as fans and writing articles that aren’t really examining all angles of stories. How is Randy Lerner ever going to understand how bad his decision making is if we don’t get through to him by being critical of things he has done. Hiring Holmgren for stadium repairs is a joke. Who is really in charge. We have no leader but we have a frustrated gm who can’t run the team how he needs to because Holmgren the stadium’s carpenter is making personnel and draft decisions. Stop being so rah rah and hammer these people when they need to be hammered. Name anything that Holmgren has brought to the table.. 

  • dan

    If the team is really “closer to a contender than we have been in some time”, why hasn’t the team been winning more games? The Browns have been a four or five win team deservedly for the past three years, and will probably be a five or six win team this year, because that’s where they are. If all the team needs is “a few more pieces”, it would have (or get) a record that reflected being only a few pieces away from contending. If the Browns do go 8-8 or so, great, I’ll be wrong — but I don’t think that is what is going to happen. They really don’t look significantly better to me than they did three years ago, so I’ll predict they’ll be about the same: 5-11, give or take a game.

    Also, if you’re predicting a losing season this year, you’re predicting something that, by my standards, is going to be “painful” rather than “fun.”

  • porckchopexpress

    I listened to the interview on KNR yesterday.  Goldhammer was jumping all over the fact that Holmgren “lied” about being 65 when he doesn’t turn 65 until next June, and somehow this was evidence that he wasn’t going to fufill his 5 year commitment. 
    Between that, listening to calls and reading here, the only thing I can conclude is that the Browns need to (drumroll…) win.  If Holmgren says he stays out of football stuff some fans kill him for being an absentee President, while others say he’s lying because he does get involved from time to time.  If he says he is involved in football stuff other fans kill him because he’s stepping on Heckerts toes.  If he speaks to the press or gives interviews people kill him for whatever he says, if he doesn’t speak people kill him for not talking.
    Point is that winning is the only thing that will make all this go away. 
    Second point is that radio hosts in Cleveland are Fing morons because they continue to duck the most obvious and really only important question about Holmgren’s future, which is what does the organization look like when he leaves.  Does Heckert have to take over all duties? Because the failed under Savage?  Does a guy like John Collins come back in to run the business side of things?  If so who will it be and does that guy have to keep Heckert?  What I’m getting at is are we going to blow this whole thing up again after year 5 or is there a plan for continuity going forward,  And why the hell has no one brought this up to the team President yet? 

  • Harv 21

    to your second point, not sure anyone is too concerned about a Holmgren succession plan until we see that what they’re doing translates into success. I like Heckert a lot. But after Butch’s first year I thought we were on to something, and thought that again after the ’07 season. We shall see. 

  • DontbringLBJback

    Well, Dan…(IMO) as Mike said in the interview, we were 2 plays away from being 6-10.  We also could have easily beaten Baltimore if Shermer doesn’t completely mismanage the clock at the end of the first half. 

    But good teams win close games.  Well coached teams win close games.  We might be a good team this year (not great, but good), but our coaching has to get much, much better. 

    I think TRich and Weeden are upgrades to both of those critical positions, plus Schwartz is possibly an upgrade (should be, but don’t know for sure yet).  Our DEF was 9th overall and 3rd against the pass last year.  That’s not bad.  Hopefully the Fujita thing doesn’t hurt us too much the first 3 games.

    All of that said, I think 8-8 is possible, even with the brutal schedule.  6-10 would not surprise me… 10-6 would be a miracle.  If they had signed a quality veteran receiver, 8-8 would feel a lot better to me.  We’ll see.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    The Browns play in the football equivalent of the AL East.

  • Steve-o

    Holmgren was hired to do what an owner should do, and in that regard he is an upgrade. Like an owner he can’t help but to micromanage, regardless of his qualifications. His track record suggests he should be more involved with the coaches. It also suggests that he should defer to Heckert on personnel(player) decisions. Holmgren has never done well in that department.

  • MrCleaveland

    Hey, where did Victoria go? You guys didn’t think I was referring to the recycling ads, did you?