This past year was another disappointing season for the Cleveland Browns, the second under the watch of President Mike Holmgren. The offense, led by quarterback Colt McCoy, was the worst offense since the Browns came back in 1999. While acclimating to the new west coast offense of first year coordinator Pat Shurmur, Cleveland scored more than 20 points once out of 16 games. There were numerous issues with the team and they can’t all be pinned on Colt McCoy. The offensive line was shaky at times, the receivers couldn’t hang onto the football, and the running game was non-existent. However to ignore the role Colt McCoy played in an offense that averaged 13.6 points per game, to give the quarterback a pass, would be lunacy.
Colt McCoy was one of the greatest college winners of all-time and showed a lot of toughness in Cleveland this past season, but he also showed that the Browns won’t go anywhere until they upgrade the most important position in the NFL. They know it too. While Mike Holmgren and Cleveland’s front office have tried to talk in positive terms about Colt McCoy, their actions show otherwise. A team that has their solution at quarterback doesn’t spend a big part of the offseason looking for an upgrade, looking at “10 or 12 or maybe even more quarterbacks.”
It’s no secret that Cleveland was awfully close to making a trade with the St. Louis Rams for the second overall pick in the draft and the right to land Robert Griffin III. However, the Browns failed in their attempt and now the reigning Heisman Trophy winner will be heading to the nation’s capitol while the Browns are stuck with either Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace. The already shaky offseason line lost two players as Tony Pashos and Eric Steinbach were both released and the running game that Holmgren admitted wasn’t strong enough looks to be even weaker after Peyton Hillis went to Kansas City in free agency. The team still has three of the top 37 picks in this year’s draft and they could certainly upgrade other holes, but there have been a number of reasons the Cleveland Browns have been the NFL’s punch-line since the team returned in 1999 and the quarterback is the biggest. There’s no reason to think that will change if the Browns head into 2012 with the two quarterbacks that manned the position in 2011.
Mike Holmgren joined KJR in Seattle with Dave “Softy” Mahler to talk about whether he is angry that the relationship between the Redskins and Rams hurt the Browns’ chances of landing Robert Griffin III, whether he worries about the reaction of Colt McCoy now that it is known that the Browns were trying to trade for RG3, his thoughts on Peyton Manning becoming a Bronco, if the Broncos are a Super Bowl contender with Manning, his thoughts on Matt Flynn, and what he thinks of his QB situation after failed attempts to upgrade this offseason.
Media reports have suggested you’re angry because you think the relationships between the Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams hurt the chances of the Browns sealing the deal in the Robert Griffin III sweepstakes:
“We were involved in discussions. Let’s put it that way. I thought we had enough bullets in the gun to perhaps make a run at that but it turned out that we didn’t. I think trades are kind of like games. You get competitive with it. At the time, we were kind of fired up about it. We were disappointed. Then you go on to Plan B or Plan C. That’s what happens with trades. That’s what happens with the draft. The one thing I’ve learned over the years is you can’t get so excited about a single transaction or a single draft pick or your position in the draft ‘cause sometimes that guy doesn’t fall to you, sometimes you don’t get him. So if you let it bother you too much, then you can’t regroup and do what you have to do after that.”
Whether he worries about the reaction of Colt McCoy:
“I really don’t. I think he’s a competitive guy. He understands this business. He and I had a really good talk before he left in the offseason. He knew there was going to be competition coming into this next offseason and next training camp. I think if you’re just honest with them, then they’ll be able to handle most things. Is there a little side of any of the players that is touched by something like that? I think in all honesty there probably is but you know what? It’s a business and you’ve got to bounce back and how you bounce back determines what kind of guy you are. You remember when we got Matt (Hasselbeck) years ago and then we didn’t start off so great and then I had to stick (Trent) Dilfer in there and Matt didn’t like that very much but it was part of the deal and he responded beautifully and became the player we all thought he could be. That’s how most of the guys who are real pros handle it.”
On Peyton Manning becoming a Bronco:
“It didn’t surprise me. I think the teams that were involved in that all put their best foot forward and thought about it a lot and were trying to get Peyton to come there but he was only going to go to one place. So if you were involved in that, you had to talk about the possibility of not getting him. Like I said earlier, then life has to go on because you just don’t take your ball and go home. He’s a wonderful player and Denver, if he winds up in Denver, which it appears he will, they’re better right away. You know that ‘cause he’s a great player.”
If the Broncos are a Super Bowl contender with Manning:
“That’s hard to say. One guy can’t do it all himself, but you saw when he could not play last year what happened to a very proud Indianapolis group that had been very, very good for many years. So he’s pretty important. You’re not going to go after Peyton Manning at his age and so on without thinking in the back of your mind, this is why we’re doing it. We’re going for the whole deal.”
On Matt Flynn:
“I think like most teams that were out this offseason kind of determining their quarterback situation, clearly the Seahawks did that, and Matt was one of those free agents along with Peyton that who was kind of floating around and had played a bit and done quite well as a matter of fact. I believe he holds the passing record for a team that had some wonderful players there. He had a wonderful game against the Lions. It’s part of what every team does, but now once that is done, now you have to roll up your sleeves and actually do it. I think any team that goes into a situation like that has thought it through.”
If the Browns looked at Matt Flynn:
“Well we did our due diligence and looked at, I would guess we probably, including the draft, looked at 10 or 12 quarterbacks, maybe even more and Matt was one of them, yeah.”
On the Browns QB situation:
“Listen, I want to make something pretty clear, and I might as well do it on your show seeing how it’s banned all over the world. I like Colt McCoy as a player. I think he’s a fine player and has a chance to be a fine player in this league. I thought last year, one, he got beat up pretty good. We didn’t protect him quite well. I thought our running game after Peyton Hillis got hurt wasn’t helping him enough in my opinion. Then we had the lockout so you had a new coach, new system, and new quarterback. You put all that together, and I think it was a little bit of a short deck. I’m not down on Colt McCoy at all. But I will always think as long as I’m in a position like this, we are always going to look for quarterbacks, to make that pile a little bigger, try to create some competition to try to bring the best out of people you already have. I know Colt as a person and he will respond as well as anyone in the world will to this. I’m not down on Colt. He can play.”