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Browns president Holmgren says he would consider coaching again

BEREA, Ohio -- The coach inside Mike Holmgren can't sit still or stay quiet.

Still adjusting to his new football life following a storied NFL coaching career, Holmgren, in his first year as Cleveland's president, hinted Tuesday that he would consider a return to the sideline but promised he will not interfere with coach Eric Mangini in picking the Browns' starting quarterback.

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Mangini must choose whether to stick with rookie Colt McCoy or go back to veterans Seneca Wallace or Jake Delhomme, who have been sidelined with severely sprained ankles. Wallace could be back at practice Wednesday as the Browns prepare for Sunday's game against New England.

Holmgren, who praised McCoy's performance in two recent starts, will offer his opinion to Mangini, but he won't make any demands.

"That's a coaching decision, and Eric and his staff will make that decision," Holmgren said.

In his first state-of-the-Browns address since before training camp, Holmgren touched on several major topics, including the team's muddled quarterback situation, whether he would return to coaching and Mangini's future beyond 2010.

On Election Day, Holmgren came across as a well-polished politician by being diplomatic on the team's hot quarterback debate. Holmgren plans to meet with Mangini to discuss the QB dilemma, but he won't do that until either Wallace or Delhomme returns.

Holmgren acknowledged that Mangini's choice could have a lasting impact.

"I've gone on the record many times as saying the most important player on your team is the quarterback," Holmgren said. "And I think you have to get to the Super Bowl and become a viable playoff-caliber team year after year after year, you have to have that guy. So I think it's a huge decision. I'm stating the obvious."

McCoy, a third-round pick, was impressive in starts against Pittsburgh and New Orleans. He passed for 281 yards in his debut against the Steelers and followed up by getting his first win as the Browns shocked the defending Super Bowl champion Saints.

McCoy's two starts have Browns fans, who have seen 16 different starting quarterbacks since 1999, excited and screaming to see more of the former Texas star. Holmgren, too, has been impressed with McCoy, but he cautioned it's too early to make any rash judgments.

"Look it," Holmgren said, applying the brakes to the McCoy fervor. "Before anyone anoints anybody, he's played two games."

Holmgren believes McCoy has the mental makeup to handle returning to a backup role, if that's what Mangini decides. Holmgren knows McCoy would benefit from more playing time this season to further his development and get the Browns closer to contention.

Holmgren also understands the need to win.

"Part of the thing about young quarterbacks playing is as long as you can keep them healthy, as long as they don't get too scarred and too beaten up, mentally scarred, every game that they play is probably a good thing," he said. "But we would like to win games."

Holmgren has seen improvement in Mangini's second season, and he would like to see more. A 2-5 record is not what the 62-year-old, who went 161-111 and coached in three Super Bowls with Green Bay and Seattle, is accustomed to. He still wrestles with watching games from the press box, where he admits his frustration has on occasion gotten the best of him.

He enjoys the challenge of turning the Browns into a winner, but that doesn't mean the coaching bug has completely left his system.

Holmgren was asked if he would like to coach again.

And, again, he left open the possibility he would return.

"I'm doing OK," he said. "Does it sound like I want to coach? Nah, I'm doing OK. The challenge of this is really something for me. But I'd be less than honest if I didn't say I get fired up watching the games. I did that for too long not to react sometimes the way I do. But I also recognize what I was hired to do, and that's what I'm trying to do."

He was hired by owner Randy Lerner to fix the Browns, and although it might not be happening as quickly as he would like, Holmgren said he is committed to the task.

"I made a promise, and I'm gonna stick with that," he said. "Now if I keep wearing a suit or not, we'll see."

One of Holmgren's first moves as president was to retain Mangini, whose first season included a 5-11 record and nearly constant turmoil.

Holmgren believed it was only fair to give Mangini a second season, that one year wasn't enough for the coach to implement a new system. Holmgren won't just factor Mangini's record into whether he'll be back in 2011.

"Wins and losses, that's not the only criteria," he said. "The crummy part of our business is that most of the time it is the main one. I thought my last year in Seattle, 4-12, is my worst record of all time. It may have been my best coaching job, because we were playing with young people, but they just weren't good enough. If that taught me anything, it taught me in my position there's more to look at.

"It's premature at this point (to judge Mangini). Let's let the season play out, and then I'll make the decision at the end of the year."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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