When Mike Holmgren took over as President of the Cleveland Browns, he inherited a mess that nobody had been able to clean up. Holmgren is heading into his second full season as Browns President and while the wins still haven’t piled it, it appears the Browns are heading in the right direction. While the team is still lacking overall talent, they are extremely young with a lot of players that can be part of the core of the team moving forward. Unfortunately Cleveland decided to make some changes this offseason that could be a detriment to their development.
There is a new head coach, a new offense, and a new defense. In a year with a shortened offseason it makes things even tougher for Cleveland. However unlike in years past one thing is certain in Cleveland and that’s the quarterback. One of the first things that Holmgren did when he arrived in Cleveland was try to stop the revolving door at the most important position in the NFL.
Colt McCoy was drafted in the third round and the team has done everything possible to put him in a position to succeed, with the exception of giving him a go-to target to throw to. The offense is tailor-made for his game, he has a good offensive line in front of him, and he has the Madden cover boy carrying the pigskin behind him. McCoy has a ton to prove this season after struggling down the stretch in 2010. However unlike years past it appears the Browns know who their quarterback is heading into the season and they are going to do everything possible to find the answer to the most important question that has hung over the franchise since they came back in 1999.
Mike Holmgren joined 950 KJR in Seattle with Dave “Softy” Mahler to talk about why free agents can’t workout with teams until August 4th, how tough the offseason has been with all the new stipulations and no two-a-days, who will start the first game of the season at quarterback for the Browns, whether or not he has talked to Brett Favre about possibly coming back this season, and what would make him happy this season when it comes to the Browns.
On why free agents can’t work out with teams until August 4th:
“The whole thing is the agreement with free agents in particular was at the start of the football year, the league year, and the league year can’t start until X,Y, and Z are done as far as signing things and getting things going, the official league year. We all hope that will start at a certain time and it kicks in all these rules for free agency and the draft. It’s more legal things that have to be done until you get them on the field. We had anticipated getting them on the field tomorrow and so we just got a memo and now we’re changing our whole practice so we can get them on the field. Instead of practicing in the morning, we are practicing at four o’clock, well 4:01 to be legal. It’s craziness but I went through all those meetings representing the Browns during the whole lockout. Very little surprises me anymore.”
How tough this offseason has been with all the new stipulations and no two-a-days:
“Here’s what our approach was Dave if you think too much about that it will drive you absolutely insane. What I told our guys is look it’s going to be a different year and without the offseason and the OTA’s yeah there’s a chance that teams are a little rusty coming out of the gate but we’ll hit the ground running. We’re no different than anyone else so let’s roll up our sleeves and we’ll do the best we can. I like how we’re practicing. We’re having good practices. I actually am a little surprised given the fact that we’ve had no offseason that the guys came in as prepared and as good as they are. They’re doing a fine job of picking things up. You just go. It’s different. Is it different? Absolutely it’s different. Are there some things about the practices and what we’re allowed to do at practice that I would do differently? Absolutely, but it is what it is.”
On who will start the first game at quarterback for the Browns against Cincinnati:
“Right now Colt McCoy is running with the first group and Seneca Wallace, who you know very well, is running the second group and we have a couple of young guys vying for the third spot on the roster. Both of them are off to a good start and I’m glad we have both of them but Colt is going to get a chance to do this.”
Whether or not he thinks Brett Favre will be back this season:
“I have not spoken to Brett lately. From everything I read and see, but Dave you and I have walked down this path before, I don’t think he’s going to come back and play, but he’s an interesting guy to say the least particularly given this offseason when you have a short window of preparation to get a team on the field. He wasn’t even in training camp the last few years and he’s one of those guys who can just put it on and go play. If that’s attractive to a team they might talk to him. Heck, now that one I would be surprised. I really would be surprised.”
On the expectations for the team:
“Well I suppose I’m never satisfied until we start winning some more games. We didn’t win enough games last year. How about this stat? We went from one of the oldest teams in football to one of the youngest and we lost 331 years. We’re a young team and now having said that we’re going to have some growing pains, but I think looking back on my year I don’t question my decision to retain Eric (Mangini) and those guys. I thought long and hard about it. The fact that then I had to make the change I suppose if I made it right away you could say we’d be a year ahead but I had reasons for not doing it and that’s the way it is. Now we have to kinda get going again but I like the way our team is functioning. We have these young people that are going to be good. Tom Heckert does a great job in personnel. I mean he really is good. The really good thing I did was surround myself with really smart guys and they can really do the job.”
How disappointed he would be if the Browns don’t make strides this year:
“I would be disappointed if we didn’t make a jump Dave but we’ll see. I’m not one to predict those things as you well know. I think if we don’t get hurt and Colt can’t stay in and not get injured, which is a huge thing, and he can have a full year of growing and playing the game, I think we have a chance to be a much better football team. That’s my hope anyway.”