We’ve heard from Mike Holmgren several times over the last few months say that he expects the Browns to take a significant leap forward. Not just in ‘intangibles’ but in the win column. The Browns were 4-12 last season, and 5-11 in his first year as President of the team.
In an interview on ESPN Cleveland today, Holmgren was asked by Tony Rizzo what happens if the team doesn’t take that jump forward. (Audio here.)
As you can imagine, there was no real answer given.
Holmgren admitted that he “would not be happy if we had the same record or close to it”, but then went on to reaffirm that he believes in his coach, and the people they have in place-
“You just have to persevere and get through the tough stuff when you’re building it.”
Since the beginning, Holmgren has talked about this being a long process. He has talked about consistency and letting the plan develop. Does that mean that if things go south this season Holmgren won’t consider making a change with his Head Coach?
Don’t get me wrong, I want Pat Shurmur to succeed. Not because I like Pat Shurmur, I really don’t know the guy what so ever. Met him one time at a Browns practice and I’m sure he doesn’t remember meeting me. I want Shurmur to succeed because like you I am growing tired of rebuilding. I know that replacing the coach would mean another set-back and more than likely another couple years before the Browns had any shot to compete in the North division, let alone the playoffs. This isn’t a piece calling for Shurmur to be out.
I would say that Holmgren is kind of painting himself into a corner.
This is his timetable. He is the one saying ‘significant jump’ in win and loss record. Not just the fans.
He says this despite a returning offense that was absolutely atrocious last season. An offense that will rely heavily on rookie running back Trent Richardson and rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. An offense that will count on second year wide receiver Greg Little becoming a feature type wide out. An offense that will count on Mohamed Massaquoi to be more than he has been the last two years of his career. In other words, the odds are against it.
Following his interview on Rizzo’s show, Holmgren taped a segment for All Bets Are Off, and then went on the Bull and Fox show on 92.3 The Fan with the same message- the Browns will be significantly better next season.
In both radio interviews, Holmgren said he believed the team was just a successful field goal snap away from being 7-9 last season. He mentioned that there should then be a little improvement in year 3. So if you were to try and read between the lines, it would be safe to say that Holmgren expects this team to be at least 8-8 next season.
Adam “The Bull” Gerstenhaber did follow-up, asking Holmgren what would happen if the team didn’t progress, and he refused to answer saying he believed things will get better not worse.
Is Holmgren trying to sell season tickets? Is he just trying to get the fans interested and excited about the team going into next year? Is he trying to take a little heat off of his head coach and GM?
Whatever his reasoning, Mike Holmgren has set the bar himself for next season. The sad part might just be that if the Browns were able to just clear that bar, we’d probably be ecstatic about it.