August 26, 2014

Breaking News: Mike Holmgren to Leave Browns, Possibly Within Next 24 Hours

With new Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam officially being voted into the club today by his fellow NFL owners, the curtains on Haslam’s plans for the Browns can finally start to be lifted.

According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Jimmy Haslam will be immediately naming Joe Banner as CEO/President, a move everyone expected. What was less clear was what Holmgren’s future would be. Now it appears we have the answer:

New Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, whose takeover of the team was officially approved Tuesday, will name Joe Banner the team’s CEO/president and current president Mike Holmgren will depart the organization within 24 hours, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder.

Haslem has a news conference scheduled for noon and will announce the Banner move, the sources said. It is unknown if Holmgren’s status will be addressed at the news conference.

Many expected Holmgren would at least stay on through the end of this season, but if Werder’s sources are correct, the end of the Mike Holmgren era in Cleveland may be over sooner than most anticipated. For all the losses the Browns racked up under Holmgren’s watch, an argument could still be made that strides were made and that the talent on the team is in better shape today than it was 3 years ago.

No word yet on what the future holds for Browns GM Tom Heckert or head coach Pat Shurmur.

UPDATE (12:30 pm): ESPN’s Adam Schefter is now reporting that Holmgren will stay on for the remainder of the season, and then will leave the organization. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is also saying that Holmgren will stay on for the rest of the season.

Joe Banner Brings Winning Experience and Tough Decisions to Cleveland

Joe Banner will have some decisions to make in Cleveland

While Randy Lerner’s sale of the Cleveland Browns to Jimmy Haslam is not yet official, it’s becoming quite clear that everyone expects the deal to go through without issue. Furthermore, we now know that former Philadelphia Eagles President Joe Banner is a part of Haslam’s ownership group.

What does that mean for the Cleveland Browns? Well, it’s possible that Banner just wants to be a part of the ownership group and is done overseeing football operations. But that seems highly unlikely. Most observers fully expect Banner to take up the role currently being held by Mike Holmgren. For Holmgren, the writing is on the wall. It would be stunning to see Holmgren hang onto his job once Banner gets into town. [Read more...]

Ryan Tannehill Meets With Cleveland, but Not With Mike Holmgren

With the NFL draft now just a few days away, one can expect to see an increase in rumors, smokescreens, hidden messages between the line, etc.

So make what you will of this news, but QB prospect Ryan Tannehill visited with the Cleveland Browns, but as he told 92.3′s Bull and the Fox, he did not meet with Browns president Mike Holmgren, supposedly due to scheduling conflicts as a result of poor weather delaying Tannehill’s visit. Does this mean the Browns aren’t serious about Tannehill, or is that reading too much into it? Only time will tell. To listen to the full interview to hear what Tannehill had to say about the visit with Cleveland, along with a host of other topics, check out the link above.

[Related: Offensive Positions Outside QB Are The Way Browns Should Go]

Peter King: Heckert thinking Blackmon and Holmgren thinking (about) Tannehill

Are you still having fun yet? I am. Peter King has some juicy bits about the draft in his MMQ column today. First of all, he doesn’t think there will be much action on the third pick because people won’t fall enough in love with anyone not named Luck or Griffin to make a big offer. That leads to Matt Kalil probably heading to Minnesota as most people have suspected from the beginning. That leaves the Browns.

I heard different things over the weekend from people I trust. GM Tom Heckert loves Blackmon and that would be his pick; president Mike Holmgren is still trying to decide with finality if Tannehill is the franchise quarterback worth taking here. The safest pick? Richardson, at a need position, even though receiver is a bigger need.

Joe Lull of 92.3 The Fan is still the (only?) engineer for the Tannehill express, so this probably makes him happy that the man at the top of the Browns pyramid is still even contemplating Tannehill. Regardless of whether you like Tannehill or not, there’s no denying that his rise has been hype-based and meteoric over the last few months. Oh yeah, and he hasn’t done anything new on a football field in that time unless you count a scripted pro day workout.

He didn’t even knock over a Browns position coach. Enjoy the ride people!

[Related: Bill Polian says Trent Richardson is the real deal]

Hey! Come to our draft party!


How Will the Steelers React to James Harrison’s Rant?

Playing in the AFC North comes with a special set of challenges in the NFL because of how well run the Steelers have been historically.  Many Browns fans wish that the Browns had a fraction of the leadership and culture that the Steelers have had as they have won Super Bowls over the years.  This culture is often defined by not only drafting and developing players, but also knowing when to say goodbye to them.  We aren’t just talking about run of the mill players either.  This isn’t like the Browns saying goodbye to Mike Sellers.  The Steelers have been willing to wave goodbye to some really talented players over the years.  With that in mind, it will be interesting to see what – if anything – the Steelers do with James Harrison who has called Roger Goodell a “crook” and a “devil,” while also ripping teammates Rashard Mendenhall and Ben Roethlisberger in an interview with Men’s Journal.

Oh, and he also decided posing in a menacing fashion brandishing firearms was the image that he wanted to project for himself, so there’s that. [Read more...]

Browns Coaching Search Concerning, Not Doomed

I have been on record defending Mike Holmgren’s process of hiring Pat Shurmur… to an extent.  I will never turn any situation like this into a completely black and white situation though.  It is nearly impossible with so many moving pieces as the transition takes shape.  Would Rob Ryan stay, or would he go?  Well, now we know he has moved on to Dallas.  How about special teams coach Brad Seely?  Adam Schefter cast some doubt about his return to Cleveland with some 49ers news yesterday.  While I can still defend the process of hiring Pat Shurmur, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have some doubts and fears about what is going on right now.

First the good things though.  Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron are still in the running for Browns’ defensive coordinator.  I liked Rob Ryan, but if anybody was going to replace him, I wanted it to come down to some really experienced candidates to help this first-time head coach.  These two coaching vets fit that bill for sure.  Part of my desire to see Holmgren find a young hungry guy to be head coach was bringing big-time experienced coordinators to help him.  In my mind that is a perfect environment for developing a head coach.  Holmgren at the top and at least two more experts flanking Shurmur on his right and left. [Read more...]

The Trip to Destination Shurmur

As Browns fans, we are certainly a reactionary bunch, aren’t we?  No sooner was Pat Shurmur hired that segments of the population were suspicious, irate, enraged, confused, or inconsolable.   I guess I should get used to it, but I remain surprised every time the Browns do anything at the wide-ranging emotions that are unnecessarily flung about.  Of course in Browns town you might as well throw in a bit of conspiracy theory to boot.  That’s right, a conspiracy theory was hatched with the vigor and energy of Oliver Stone a half a bottle of vodka in at a party of 9/11 “truthers.”

Bob Lamonte runs everything in the Browns’ organization now, according to some.  Instead of just a raise of the eyebrows and a couple of question marks about the connection between all these guys, a full-blown campaign against “nepotism” and “cronyism” has been hatched around the internet and on Cleveland sports talk radio.

You do all realize that this is supposed to be fun, right?  It is supposed to be a wholly welcomed distraction from politics, and other real news. [Read more...]

Rumor: Mangini Done According to WKNR Sources

I have been saying for a while that any talk of Mangini and the proverbial “hot seat” is silly. I still feel that way, but it is complex.

Sabrina Parr from WKNR reported this morning that regardless of what Mangini does in his last three games, he is out as head coach. Co-host Chris Fedor then added that the Browns are having difficulty finding a new offensive coordinator because there is a lack of willingness in candidates to work with Mangini.

Now, we have no idea whether this is true or not; I have no idea what confidence level to place on this rumor. But let’s just pretend that it is true for the sake of discussion. It is important to finally get this out there because I haven’t talked a lot about the raging “Mangini debate.” The reason is that the debate has been mostly flawed up to this point. Nobody can seem to figure out what they are really talking about and stay focused. Here are the various camps in the debate. [Read more...]

Browns Give Game to Bills

The Browns will regret this loss desperately.  They did everything the exact opposite of what Eric Mangini preaches.  The Browns lost the turnover battle.  They handily lost the time of possession battle.  They were badly out-rushed in bad weather.  The Browns’ defense played well enough to win only giving up 13 points, but even that won’t provide any comfort as the Browns lick their wounds heading into Cincy with a 500 record being the best possible scenario for the season.

Yes, this team has made improvements over last season.  Forget that for a second though.  The team defied its own improvement in out-stinking the Bills for 60 minutes this Sunday.  Reggie Hodges punted four times and Brian Moorman matched him with four punts of his own.  At the end of it all, though, the Browns lost because they didn’t control the ball, clock and field position.  In Eric Mangini’s world that is absolutely unforgivable.   [Read more...]

Quarterback is Pretty Clear Now for Browns

Remember the mantra: there is no QB controversy.  We certainly did learn a lot about Jake Delhomme yesterday.  The bottom line is that the Browns should keep Jake around for the rest of this year as the third quarterback on the depth chart.  Delhomme has had two legitimate chances to compete this season due to injury, but the results are conclusive now.  The Browns can no longer assume Jake Delhomme is the guy who gives them the best chance to win.  He does some nice things and can play in spurts, but the interceptions just aren’t worth the risk anymore for this Browns team that thrives on controlling the clock and limiting mistakes.

A lot of Browns fans seem to think that Jake Delhomme’s rocky day is inextricably tied to Brian Daboll and Eric Mangini being bad coaches.  Or, maybe you think that Delhomme is bad and you don’t like the coach so you use it as a bullet in your gun aimed at Mangini and Daboll.  I think a lot of arguments can be made against Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll, but I just don’t follow that line of thinking.  We can talk about whether or not Mangini and Daboll should return next season after the year is over.   [Read more...]

Browns Quarterback Situation Up in the Air

Your Browns quarterback update is that we will see on Wednesday.  Even with all the changes at the QB spot this year, isn’t it kind of refreshing that every move so far has been almost strictly due to health and injury?  And who would have thought coming into this year that we would know the least about Jake Delhomme by this point in the season?  As always, there is no need for controversy here.  This is how I see it shaking out.  If Colt McCoy is healthy, then he plays.  Otherwise between Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme it doesn’t really matter.

In the event that Colt McCoy isn’t healthy and isn’t ready to go, I would have to guess Jake Delhomme will get the nod this week against Carolina.  Delhomme had a nice pre-season.  He had a bad opener against Tampa Bay and clearly wasn’t healthy enough to play against the pass rush of Atlanta.  Still, he won the job out of training camp over Seneca Wallace.  There is no reason to think today that given the choice between Seneca and Jake Delhomme that Seneca isn’t still the backup.  Yesterday Eric Mangini told us that we would have to wait and see about Colt McCoy on Wednesday.  He also told us that Jake Delhomme is 100% or as close to 100% as anyone ever is. [Read more...]

Things the Browns Have Gotten Wrong

Let’s not call this article criticism as much as it is a “reporting of findings” combined with a dose of self-awareness. It would only be criticism if I called people names or questioned their overall intelligence.  I think I have praised the Browns overall enough this season that I can point a few things out that they have decidedly gotten wrong without coming off like a basher or the dreaded “hater.”

It is totally impossible for any NFL front office in the modern age to be right all the time. Even the mostly infallible organizations like Indianapolis with Bill Polian and the Patriots with Bill Belichick miss on occasion. Still, those guys are so good now that almost nobody will criticize a draft pick, regardless of Mel Kiper’s board. I think the Browns have gotten more right than wrong since Holmgren and Heckert have joined the organization, but they have missed some things too that are currently hurting the Browns on Sunday. [Read more...]

Holmgren Seems In Control, Not Controlling

In order to be a good football man in today’s NFL, I think you have to have a certain level of arrogance.  

Whether fans look on that arrogance with a knowing positivity or true disdain depends on whether the arrogance is justified with success and trust.  Bill Belichick is the perfect example as he has ridden the fence.  He was an arrogant jerk when he was in Cleveland as head coach.  Everyone said that.  He was an arrogant jerk everywhere he went until he somehow became a genius.  

Today, I am still bitter about Belichick’s tenure in Cleveland, but I do respect him for what he has done in New England.  It seems like Browns fans are not yet totally sold on Mike Holmgren including Terry Pluto, who was critical of him following his press conference this week.

When Terry Pluto says something that I disagree with, I usually take a step back to think over my position again.  After thinking about it though, I am still quite satisfied with the things Mike Holmgren said during his press conference even if some of the rest of you aren’t. [Read more...]

How Are the Browns Doing Compared to 2009?

It isn’t really any kind of a season milestone for the Browns other than the fact that they have hit their bye week and the news comes in a bit slower.  Still, seven games is a pretty good sample size to take a bit of stock to see just how the Browns are doing compared to what we saw a year ago.  Just from judging with your own eyes, you should know that what we are seeing is better.  Obviously it still isn’t good enough, but trust me when I tell you it is better.

First things first, the record this year is 2-5.  A year ago after seven games the Browns were 1-6 with their lone win coming in that horrendous 6-3 affair in Buffalo.  That game could also eventually be deemed the last meaningful game of Jamal Lewis’ career as he ran for over 100 yards.  Seeing as he didn’t catch on with anyone this season, I am guessing that will be the final 100+ yard game of Jamal Lewis’ career.  Speaking of rushing.

So far in 2010 the Browns have rushed for 708 yards compared with 680 the prior year.  The Browns had 173 yards rushing against the Ravens in 2010 and lost by a touchdown.  In 2009, the Browns rushed for 171 yards in that game against Buffalo that they won.  In 2010 the Browns have rushed for over 100 yards as a team 4 times, while in 2009 to this point it was only 2 times. [Read more...]

Browns vs. Buccaneers – First Half Report

The good news is that the Browns took a lead into the locker room at halftime 14-10.  The bad news is that a horrible Jake Delhomme interception led to a last minute Tampa score.  The Browns were driving in the second quarter after a Mike Adams interception when Delhomme threw an ill-fated pass to Ronde Barber.  Barber seemed lame running it back, but he took it back inside the Browns’ ten yard line.  The next play from scrimmage was a horrible side-arm pass from Josh Freeman (despite what the announcing crew had to say) that hit Sheldon Brown’s hands and bounced straight up.  Wouldn’t you know that Mike Williams made a nice concentration play pulling it in after the ricochet for the Buccaneers score.

It wasn’t all bad though.  The Browns did have the lead thanks to Mohamed Massoquai and Peyton Hillis.  Massoquai caught a 41 yard touchdown pass from Jake Delhomme.  Oddly enough, Rich Gannon had more negative things to say about this pass and catch than he did about the awful one that Freeman threw that relied on a Browns deflection to find a Buccaneers receiver.  The Hillis scoring play was a 10 yard rumble over the left side with blockers out in front.  It was set up by an impressive 39 yard running play by Jerome Harrison. [Read more...]

Browns Continue to Struggle to Solidify Right O-Line

Welcome back Billy Yates.  Last night the Browns waived one of their many linebackers, Titus Brown, and we had to wait until this morning to find out the corresponding roster move.  The Browns brought back offensive guard Billy Yates just a couple days after he was let go on the same day as David Veikune.  That eventually led to the news that Browns rookie offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao (you know the guy who played impressively against Ndamukong Suh?) twisted his ankle and wouldn’t be practicing Thursday.  Lauvao was a sight for sore eyes this pre-season after Floyd Womack missed so much time due to recovery from an off-season knee procedure.  Womack was a sight for sore eyes a season ago because of John St. Clair.  Injuries happen in the NFL, but you just wonder if the Browns will ever feel comfortable with the right side of the offensive line. [Read more...]

Browns Content to Be Competitive and Developing

As the Browns’ list of cuts was finally released and then as they failed to claim anyone, Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert’s view of the current Browns is becoming apparent.  The team is far from a finished product and instead of grasping at players who appeared to be minor upgrades the Browns seem content in seeing what they have with the unknown young talents.

Obviously I am talking most notably about the wide receiver position.  As outside observers, it seemed that this was one of the most dire needs the team has had all off-season.  As guys like Vincent Jackson were dangled and as guys like T.J. Houshmandzadeh were cut and became available, the Browns sat idle.  In fairness to the Browns, Housh was unlikely to sign with a team not looking seriously at the playoffs this season, and the asking price was so high on Jackson that he still hasn’t been traded to date.  Still, it speaks volume either about the potential of Massoquai, Robiskie and Cribbs, or the Browns’ desire to see that talent before extending offers to any other players. [Read more...]

New Regime Paying For Predecessors’ Sins With Montario Hardesty

Was the pick of Montario Hardesty a good or bad idea?  Depending on what argument you are intent on making, you could probably argue both sides.  Hardesty received rave reviews from rookie sessions and from voluntary sessions prior to training camp.  In his only and limited pre-season action, Hardesty did enough to impress at least a few fans that I heard from.

Of course, then he got hurt and the old negativity rose quickly and easily to the top.  Hardesty tore his left ACL, which was incidentally the other knee from the one that the team was worried about and caused him to miss all but the final pre-season game.  Naturally, then Hardesty became the worst draft pick in the history of the NFL to a lot of fans.  On draft day Hardesty was known for his, shall we say, limited durability.  Yet the new Browns front office with Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert traded up to get him. [Read more...]

Guarded Optimism Should Rule Browns Fans

After narrowly missing the playoffs in 2007 and then living through the almost instantaneous internal combustion of the team a year later, Browns fans are all too aware of expectations.  In fact that is why the post-2007 optimism was so strange.  Fans were famously chanting about Super Bowls from the bleachers in Berea.  They were ignoring their previous hypotheses regarding Romeo Crennel, the quarterbacks and pretty much everything else.  The fans seemed to decide that it was finally time to drop the security blanket of pessimism that we normally carry around in a tighter fist than Linus in the Peanuts cartoons.  All the while, muttering about how we will never do that again.

I am sure there are a few fans out there that are feeling a little offended at the reports from prognosticators around the league that have the Browns ranked near the bottom of the league to start this season.  The Browns and their acquisitions flew largely under the radar this year, except when people were making fun of Jake Delhomme and the fact that the Browns didn’t manage to find a single receiver of known quality to add to the roster. [Read more...]

Browns Flex Muscles with Restricted Free Agents

It is bad enough in some cases that Browns restricted free agents haven’t signed their deals.  Some showed up to the optional OTAs anyway like Jerome Harrison and Lawrence Vickers.  Others made the strange decision not to show up.  Abe Elam, Matt Roth and D’Qwell Jackson in particular showed peculiar judgement in not showing up with increased competition in their respective areas of the field.  I know the situation stinks for them seeing as they have no real leverage or bargaining power.  Just ask Matt Roth who even attempted to push the Browns for a trade.  Now, the situation appears to be getting worse according to the PD’s Tony Grossi as the Browns will start to reduce their offers if they aren’t signed by June 15th. [Read more...]