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Under Pressure: Measuring Mike Holmgren's impact

Around the League will examine one key player under pressure on each team heading into the 2012 season. So far we've tackled the Jets, Dolphins and Patriots. Next up: The Cleveland Browns.

Under Pressure: Mike Holmgren

Let's step away from the Colt McCoy-Brandon Weeden drama-fest for a second.

Under Pressure

Around the League will examine one key player under pressure on each team heading into the 2012 season:

AFC East
Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
49ers | Cardinals | Rams | Seahawks

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 can’t 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 nobody’s 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 Cleveland’s young wideouts, asking Browns fans to patiently wait for the season to begin—then they’d 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.

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