Mike Holmgren Weighs in on the Jay Cutler Saga, Talks About Hiring Process of Pat Shurmur and Dick Jauron

January 25, 2011 – 11:00 am by Michael Bean

Seems like everybody has got an opinion on the whole Jay Cutler incident from this past weekend. Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren is no different. Holmgren’s point of view is somewhat interesting though because he admits to have occasionally having leaned on his training staff to clear an injured player during his time as a head coach. Once the former Packers and Seahawks coach finishes that discussion with the boys at ESPN Radio Chicago, they get down to talking about the Cleveland Browns and the two new head coaches Holmgren has hired this offseason — head coach Pat Shurmur, and defensive coordinator Dick Jauron.

Holmgren joined ESPN Radio in Chicago to talk about the Jay Cutler saga from this past Sunday, what the procedure is in terms of communication between a coach and his training staff when a player gets injured, whether he ever leaned on a trainer to clear a player, just how hard it is to establish any sort of rhythm without great play upfront by the offensive line, whether he was surprised by all the vitriol Cutler received in the media and from fellow players, and what went into the searches for Cleveland’s new head coach and defensive coordinator.

On what the procedure is exactly in terms of communication between a coach and his training staff when a player gets injured:

“Yeah I think that the first thing that happens is your trainer comes up and alerts you about every injury that takes place. So regardless of what I was doing, the trainer would come up. Sometimes I would snap at him, but he would…I know that’s hard to believe….but he would tell me what’s going on.  And I’d say is he out? Tell me what the deal is. He’d say we’ll know more…or he’d say whatever he’d say. Then, if I had a break when we’d go back on defense, then I’d go back and I’d talk to the player myself. But you know, your medical people — you trust your medical people. And the athlete has to communicate properly with the trainer and the doctors, and then they make the call. If they say he’s out, then he’s out.”

Whether he ever leaned on a doctor or trainer to clear an important player:

“Yeah I did, I did. And I’m not very proud of it. I wanted the doctor, and the doctors were my friends, I mean I had a lot of confidence in them. But they knew me too though, and so if I pushed back, they had to be sure. I wanted them to feel as strongly about it as they possibly could, otherwise I wanted the player out they’re playing. I mean, John (Jurkovic (co-host), you know this better than anybody — there are injuries and then there are injuries, and sometimes you can play with them and sometimes you can’t. And sometimes it’s based on the position you play, and sometimes it’s based on your pain threshold. There’s all sorts of things that go into that, you just have to trust them. After you have your little moment with them, then they’d say no, he’s out; or they might say okay let’s try it. But they have the final call. Absolutely.”

On just how hard it is for a quarterback and an offense to establish any rhythm without solid play upfront by the offensive line:

“Well it’s hard. I don’t care who you are — Favre, Joe Montana, or the guys I’ve been around, Tom Brady, or whoever — they can tell you into they’re blue in the face that they don’t even know who’s playing, that’s bologna. They know who’s playing up front. In other words, let’s say your left tackle can’t play, your starting left tackle, and you have to go with somebody else. Quarterbacks know that. They know that going in, so they are very aware. Now, do they trust their line? Yeah they trust their line, because he’s had a lot of great things happen this season. I think you have to see how the game is going and then adjust accordingly. If they’re struggling a little bit, help them out a little bit. That’s where the coaching comes in I think. You can’t blame it on those guys, that’s for sure. Let’s face it — Green Bay can pressure you; they’ve pressured everybody. So, knowing that how you going to handle it? We know we have the problem, how we going to handle it? You get everyone to deal with it one way or another.”

Whether it was surprising to see and read some of the vitriol that Cutler faced this weekend:

“It really was. And from what I read today, I thought Lovie handled his press conference pretty well considering everything because look it, you’re not playing in this league…there’s no way you’re a starting quarterback in the league and you’re not tough. There’s no way. And there’s no way that you’re not going to play in that ballgame unless you absolutely cannot play. And that goes without saying. Anybody that took cheap shots at him should be ashamed of themselves. Because that’s simply not part of the deal. And the people that know him know that.”

On what went into the coaching searches for Cleveland’s head coach and defensive coordinator:

“Well first of all in Pat, we had a pretty extensive search. And I went and interviewed formally actually three guys. You know, I talked to Bill Cowher, I talked to Gruden, and I talked to my friends in the league and so on. It really boiled down to three guys and we hired Pat. And all three guys were tremendous.  Mike Mularkey, and Perry Fewell who was the defensive coordinator with the Giants, they were great. But I hired Pat because I think we have a good young quarterback and I wanted an offensive minded head coach. It pretty much boiled down to that. And I wanted one that was familiar with the system I was familiar with. Secondly, I think he and Tom Heckert have a history with each other. So the general manager and the personnel part of that should go very smoothly, there shouldn’t be any, well you know how that can be at times. So that’s really why. Then I said in my press conference, and you’ll get a kick out of this, we all love Fritz and he was probably smiling at me for doing this, but I really hired the man. Pat Shurmur is a good man and I think he has a bright future in him. Then in Dick Jauron, Dick was on my staff way back in Green Bay, and we’ve been friends over the years and he’s got a whole bunch of experience. And I just thought it was important to get an experienced defensive coordinator because this is Pat’s first go around as a head coach, and I hope Pat would rely on Dick like I relied on Fritz when I was a young head coach. So I feel very fortunate that we got both those guys, now we’ve got to find an offensive coordinator.”

Listen here to Holmgren with The Afternoon Saloon on ESPN Radio Chicago (interview begins at 43:20 mark)

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