Under Pressure: Mike Holmgren
Both of Cleveland's quarterbacks are under the microscope, but it's time to examine the state of the Cleveland Browns from higher up the org chart. As team president Mike Holmgren enters his third full season in Cleveland, we canât help but ask: Are the Browns any closer?
1. Let's start on a positive note. Upon his arrival in December 2009, Holmgren's first order of business was cleaning up the structure of the organization, a frazzled mess in the wake of too many failed head coaches and front-office men scattered along the road since 1999. The hiring of general manager Tom Heckert has resulted in back-to-back productive drafts in 2010 and 2011, and this year's haul looks promising. Holmgren has done good work on this front.
2. "The Big Show" was brought to town to solve a 20-year problem at quarterback. Bernie Kosar hasn't played a down for the Browns since 1993, but nobodyâs filled his shoes. Outside of Derek Anderson's deal-with-the-devil in 2007, the 312 quarterbacks since have been punchless. You can't win in the AFC North without a strong-armed passer able to endure the elements; one who isn't afraid to mix it up with James Harrison and Terrell Suggs. The Browns are hoping Brandon Weeden is up to the task. A major roll of the dice, but early reports suggest the first-round draft pick looks the part. If he looks the part Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles' defense, it could change the way we view the Holmgren era.
3. Are we nitpicking when we kill this team for ignoring the wide receiver position? Last offseason, Holmgren praised Clevelandâs young wideouts, asking Browns fans to patiently wait for the season to beginâthen theyâd see. When it did, nobody made the leap. Greg Little's productive rookie outing was tempered by the fact the team lacked a No. 1 wideout -- and did nothing to fix the problem. McCoy threw to apparitions last season. Who will Weeden throw to in September?
4. The jury is out on Pat Shurmur, Holmgren's big hire. For all the abuse Eric Mangini took, the team played with passion under that coach. Something about the Mangini-led Browns vibed 1920s wrecking crew. It was imperfect, but there was a sense of toughness. Shurmur can't afford to roll out another 4-12 season while going winless in the division. Perception is king. Holmgren has presided over nine victories in two seasons. We're all for a team built the right way -- over time, through the draft -- but the Browns must show signs of life in 2012. Holmgren's legacy rides on it.