Up is down. Black is white. Dry is wet. Most importantly screaming is quiet. That’s what happened this morning when Mike Holmgren visited Kiley and Booms at 92.3 the Fan this morning for an interview. You know Booms as the screaming lunatic that has accused Mike Holmgren of not caring and just looking to collect his huge paycheck in his nicer moments. Is it safe to call Mike Holmgren’s strategy switch a complete success if even Chuck Booms can’t muster a guttural grunt of disagreement when he had “The Big Show” sitting a few feet away from him in studio this morning?
Look, I don’t want to be too hard on Booms. I know he is a fan of the Browns and I truly think he is a funny guy. The fact that Booms referred to Mike Vick as just, “The Dog Killer” to Mike Holmgren’s face made me laugh.1 Still, to think that this is the same guy who wanted to run every member of this staff out of town screaming about nepotism and everything else he could possibly think of, is astonishing.
In fairness to Kiley and Booms, Mike Holmgren walked into their studios today with something of an attitude adjustment. Long gone is the angry presser when he spoke of playoff tickets. Holmgren admitted that that whole presser was fueled by anger. He was angry that his team could not only be failing on the field but be steeped in controversy over something that he just couldn’t seem to get his arms around and control. I’m guessing that press conference was one of the key catalysts that led Mike Holmgren to his decision to change and really be out front more.
Make no mistake, Mike Holmgren needed to change course. He might have thought he was doing the right thing by staying back and giving his coach room, especially in the case of his inherited coach Eric Mangini. Ultimately though, he needed to use his high profile to put out fires and smooth the transitions that he needed patience to enact.
I wrote about the Browns’ P.R. missteps frequently last season. The Browns didn’t handle the Peyton Hillis situation well at all. They didn’t handle the Colt McCoy situation and the information around it very well either. The Browns basically seemed to elude the McCoy issue for an entire week as the NFL conducted an investigation. Rather than be out in front and let the world in on the process (at least a little bit,) the Browns chose to sit back and wait until the investigation was complete. By that point the presumed controversy had grown with the media and fans left to their imaginations. Then the angry presser occurred.
What a difference 24 hours can make though. Mike Holmgren is going to be out front talking more. He has cautioned the media ahead of time to not play “gotcha” journalism looking to put a wedge between he, Heckert and Shurmur. Without changing the course of his operation, he’s at least recognized that the sales job of what they were doing was lacking. Rather than being out front talking about the ins and outs of the season, all fans and media had to cling to were quotes about unacceptable win totals from Eric Mangini’s final season.
All this is great right now, but it absolutely must result in some identifiable improvement on the football field before it ever really matters. In some senses, this is all presumably a little bit late. In their third season as a front office and second season running their system, the Browns truly should be ready to at least look better week-in and week-out if not improve in the standings. They needed Mike Holmgren to buy them some time on their way to this point.
But maybe the rebuild isn’t over. Better late than never, right? At least for one day, it seems most in Cleveland are on the same page regarding the Browns. Doesn’t that have to be true on a day where Mike Holmgren and Chuck Booms are sitting in the same room taking pictures with a birthday cake for the coach?
- Of course Mike Holmgren had no reaction to the Mike Vick / “Dog Killer” reference. [↩]