Sunday, January 02, 2011

Browns Blow in Season Finale

The Cleveland Browns were blown out by the Pittsburgh Steelers 41-9 in the final regular season game.  The Browns were putrid.  No other way to say it.  The number of drops by receivers today must have been like record breaking.   The defense, to give us fair warning on the quality of the rest of the game, allowed a 56 yard TD pass on the Steelers first offensive play. Believe it or not, it got worse from there.

If this was a game where coaches were coaching for their jobs an players were playing for their jobs, the organization is pretty much wiped out with everyone losing their jobs. Mangini's stubbornness reared its ugly head again today when he decided for a field goal instead of a touchdown. This represents to me one of the problems with Mangini - he thinks too much. Sometimes its not the safe, intelligent play, it's the pure guts and grit that say eff you, we're going to score. This team just doesn't have it and it starts with coaching decisions like that one.

Now, I'm sure Mangini is being true to himself, regardless of whether his job is on the line or not.  That's certainly commendable. To a point anyway.  On the other hand, something has to change.  I've been all about progress and seeing it.  And as a body of work, the Browns team is certainly better than it was last year.  But the trend is bad.  Mistakes are more glaring,  player goofs more obvious, and boneheaded coaching prevalent (wasting timeouts).
If Mangini was coaching for his job, he just lost it.  In fact, even though I made the call last week that I have come down on the side of keeping Mangini, the quality of this game, much to my surprise, makes me seriously question that decision.

Build an Organization

So as the rest of the Browns fans devolve into debating Mangini's future, or who the next coach should be, etc., my focus is on what the Browns really need. The Browns need a solid, stable organization.

The first thing that needs to happen is for Mike Holmgren to announce that he is not considering a return to the sidelines. Mike Holmgren was hired to be President of the Browns and turn it into a respectable football organization. And so I want to be clear on this

A return to the sidelines, i.e., coaching, by Mike Holmgren is proof that he has failed at his main job - building an organization

The only thing that has been stable in the Browns organization is the Lerners. Now I won't go into their ownership at this point since last year Randy pulled the trigger and hired the right people. It is now up to those people to make it work. And that means Mike Holmgren focusing on creating an organization and fulfilling his role as President. He needs to make sure that whoever the coach is, the organization backs him and that Holmgren isn't creating an environment where he waiting, drooling over the opportunity to coach on any mistake.

This is a much harder task than firing a coach and stepping into that position. Stepping in as a coach is a cop-out.

Part of why I came out on the side of keeping Mangini is for stability. The personal changes Mangini has made over the last year demonstrate to me that he has turned some kind of corner and is open to mentoring. He is smart enough to learn new and better ways and internalize them. But both Holmgren and Mangini need the time for that to happen.

Regardless of whether Mangini stays or goes at this point is irrelevant. The real question is can Mike Holmgren curb his desires and personal need for the rush of coaching to focus on what's really important for this organization - building a quality and consistent infrastructure of people and resources to support and mentor whomever is coach. The Browns need to be an organization where quality people will want to stay instead of using it as a stepping stone to another organization.

Please, Mr. Holmgren, do the job you were hired to do.

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