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Mike Holmgren’s Press Conference Transcript 11/2/10




(On his impressions on Colt McCoy after two starts and what the plan is going forward the rest of the season with him)- “When I talked to Colt, I told him I was very proud of him first of all.  I think you couldn’t probably, as a youngster, go into two tougher situations.  I think the first game against the Steelers, an outstanding football team, an outstanding defensive football team who can give you all you can handle as a quarterback, any quarterback much less a young one.  I think he handled himself very well.  I think what I learned from that game is that that type of game or the game itself isn’t too big for him.  He handled himself very well, he maintained his poise, made some good throws and I think instilled some confidence in his teammates because he really hadn’t had much of a chance to play.  You all watched training camp, you watched how many reps he had got, so it’s not like he had a wealth of experience under his belt when he went into that game.  I thought he handled himself well and I told him that.  I said, ‘Now that game is done.  Now you have got another game.  Anybody can come in and play a good football game at any time, now let’s put another one together.’  We go into New Orleans, a very difficult place to play, a fine football team he’s playing against and while we didn’t throw the ball around very much, I thought he played another really solid football game.  When you look at young quarterbacks, what I’m trying to ascertain is his ability to handle the game, handle the situation he’s in.  Does he make good decisions?  Does he panic?  How are things working?  Not necessarily, does he complete that ball? Before anyone anoints anybody, he’s played two games.  I told him I was proud of him and I think he can build on this.”

 (On if he would like to see McCoy start the rest of the year)- “Now Tom (Withers), that’s a question that I’m not going to answer.  That’s a question that’s a coaching decision and Eric (Mangini) and his staff will make that decision.”

 (On what could be gained by sitting McCoy the rest of the year)- “I think what he’s done for a couple of games, I think that’s in the bank.  That’s in his memory.  You’ve talked to Colt and you know he doesn’t lack for confidence, but how much of that is saying it?  He got to play though and now he’s played against, again, two quality opponents.  He has to feel now, any little doubt that crept in, I don’t know if it did, but any little question he may have had, he said, ‘No I can do this.’  I think if we were to go back to one of the veteran quarterbacks, I think he has that in his pocket, in the bank so he knows.  He’s a great team guy.  If that was the way it went, he’d get ready to play just like he always did.”

 (On if McCoy will see things differently after having played in two games)- “I think part of the thing about young quarterbacks playing is that as long as you can keep them healthy, as long as they don’t get too scarred and too beaten up. I’m talking mentally scarred, every game that they play is probably a good thing as long as that happens.  We would like to win games, it will be a discussion the coaching staff has, there’s no question about it.  It might be academic at this point because while Jake (Delhomme) and Seneca (Wallace) are improving, exactly where they are I honestly couldn’t tell you right now.  I think Seneca is a little farther along than Jake, but that will all factor into it.”

 (On if everyone in the organization has to be on the same page when making a decision like who will be the starting quarterback)- “That’s what you would like, certainly that’s what you would hope for.  Given how we’ve worked so far, I don’t anticipate a big problem or discussion there.  Like most things that we have done, most everything that I can think of, if it takes a discussion, there’s a discussion that takes place then a decision is made.  I was a coach for a long time and I believe strongly that that’s the coach’s decision.”

 (On what criteria he will use to evaluate Coach Mangini at the end of the season)- “The important point there I think is any coach, any staff where I am in the position I’m in, will be judged at the end of the season.  It will take thoughtful thinking and I’ve said this before and I said it when I first came here, it think it’s important that you take some of the emotion out of it if you can.  At the end of the year, everyone catches their breath a little bit, think about it and hopefully make an intelligent decision.  I also said this, wins and losses are not the only criteria.  The crummy part of our business is that most of the time, it is the main one.  I thought my least year in Seattle, 4-12 on the surface they should have fired me.  Based on record, 4-12 is my worst record of all time.  It may have been my best coaching job because we were playing with young people that gave me everything they had, but they just weren’t good enough, we got so injured.  If that taught me anything, it taught me that now in my position, there’s more to look at.  Hopefully, I’ll do that properly.”

 (On balancing the decision based on wins and losses and there being more to look at than just those two factors and how he is going to do that)- “You know what, I’m not sure I can tell you that right now.  It’s premature at this point.  Let’s let the season play out and then I’ll make the decision at the end of the year.”

 (On the most encouraging thing he has seen so far this year compared to last year)- “I think the most encouraging might be the most discouraging.  The most encouraging thing is I honestly think we have been in most of the games and you could make the argument I think we had chances to win the games.  It’s also the most discouraging thing because we lost the games.  The first couple of games were very close.  As it turns out now, both of those teams are off to fine starts, they’re better than people thought they were.  Yet those were games with a little bounce here, a little thing here and not an interception there or whatever it was, that we certainly were involved in the game.  The Atlanta game was a close game, I think, down to the end.  Pittsburgh scored 14 points in the last three or four minutes, whatever it was, to make it 28, otherwise, we are kind of in that game and we won the other two.  The competitiveness, I like all of that stuff.  I like how we are competing, I like the effort, I like all of that stuff, but it hurts like crazy to lose the football game.”

 (On what he sees as the major reason why wide receivers aren’t a prominent part of the offense)- “That’s a good question Tony (Grossi).  I think certain schemes, if you will, you get used to.  If you’ve grown up in a particular system, there is a focus it seems like.  The system I grew up in in San Francisco under Coach (Bill) Walsh and then through Green Bay and Seattle, I could almost tell you within two or three throws how many catches each position was going to make during the course of the year.  It just happened that way.  That was our scheme, that’s how we played offense, that’s how we did it.  I think there’s an emphasis to work the middle of the field here with our tight ends, our backs and then the slot receiver, the inside receiver who in our case is (Chansi) Stuckey.  That’s part of it.  The second part of it is we don’t throw as many balls here as I have thrown over the years, so the numbers aren’t going to be as great.  The third thing I think is you have to ask yourself about the receivers, but they do not get as many touches, Tony, as I am used to.  We talked about it before and whoever is calling the game, in this case it’s Brian (Daboll), he has a belief in a system and how he moves the football, how he’s going to do it and if anyone were to interfere with that too much, it would really throw a monkey wrench in most things I think.  We are going to play it out and see what happens.”

 (On how Daboll has done so far)- “He works, all of the staff, I would say the same thing about the whole group.  This is a hard-working group.  Now I put on my presidents hat and I look at it a different way.  I put on my coach’s hat, which is old, and I look at it another way, which I knew would happen.  One of my greatest challenges is I’m up there, and (Doug) Dieken and Jim (Donovan), I don’t know if you hear me yelling sometimes, but I try not to get too boisterous up there.  You’ll see things and you’ll go, ‘Aw, gee.’  That’s the coach in me talking and I apologize for that right now.  Whether it’s Rob Ryan, who’s a wonderful coach, they’re fine coaches, but when we start moving around on defense and do all of those things, it drives me crazy, but it works.  I’m not used to that.  This first year in many ways, I’m getting used to a certain style if you will.  I do not question their work ethic and how hard they’re trying to get this done.  They are working very hard at this.”

(On the theory of a starter not losing his job due to injury and how he feels about throwing the ball to a quarterback on a pass like they did in New Orleans)- “That was quite a play, wasn’t it?  When he caught it and when he got up, I was very, very happy because that kind of sealed the deal there.  We used to throw passes to Seneca Wallace when he was a starter for us my last year and he could do that.  The idea of not losing your position because of injury, that’s an interesting idea really.  I never had a rule like that, I know some teams do.  The reason I never had that rule is because sometimes you come into a situation and you just go, ‘Gee whiz, this guy is lighting it up.  He probably should start.’  I’d feel bad for the guy that got hurt, but I’d be foolish to do that.  This is me talking now in years past with me, so I never had a rule like that.  Is there sentiment to giving the player who got hurt, allowing him to go back in?  Absolutely.  He certainly earned it in the beginning before he got hurt.  That’s something that you bang around in the meeting and you just pray you do the right thing.  Make sure the players know because there are going to be ruffled feathers in there.  Those hard and fast rules, I would like more wiggle room than that.  I always wanted more wiggle room than that.  Most of the time, yes the guy got his position back because that’s why he earned it in the first place, he was a better player.  But every once in a while, you get a guy that shoots lights out and you say, ‘Hey, now you have got a decision to make.’”

 (On if he wants to coach now after sitting out)– “No, I’m doing okay.  Does it sound like I want to coach?  No, I’m doing okay.  The challenge of this is really something for me and I’m enjoying the challenge.  I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say I get fired up watching the games, I mean I did that for too long not to react sometimes the way I do, but I also recognize what I was hired to do and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

 (On if it hard on Sunday that he can run the team but he can’t run the game)- “That’s the hard part because you’re sitting up there and you’re a fan, you’re watching the game.  I have a phone I can phone down to the field.  I do have one right there, I’ve used it once to find out about an injury but I don’t phone, ‘Hey Eric, how you doing?’ I don’t do that.”

 (On at which point does he feel that it’s more for the organization’s benefit to find out about McCoy going into the offseason)- “Yes, that’s the discussion that’s going to take place Tony (Grossi), that is.  It’s important, I think, but again there’s a lot that goes into that.  Until it’s clear that either one of those veteran quarterbacks can play physically, Colt will play, Colt has to play.  As soon as it becomes where you have a choice to make then you have to sit down, have that conversation and make the choice.  The obvious thing if you play a young quarterback, does he give you the best chance to win or are you doing it just for the future? That’s kind of crummy if you’re doing it just for the future, you want to win every game.  That’s the discussion that takes place and will take place.”

 (On if that conversation takes place as soon as the other quarterbacks are healthy)- “I would think so.  Again I just got back yesterday so I haven’t talked to Eric yet but yes that’s the discussion I would have.”

(On why Jerome Harrison was traded)- “I think Jerome got to a point where he was unhappy I thought.  I personally like Jerome, I think he’s a wonderful guy.  I had two or three really heart to hearts with him before we traded him.  I flat asked him if he wanted to be traded and he assured me that he didn’t. I said, ‘Look we are going to need you.’ He was unhappy. He had been so valuable down the stretch last year and his offseason is what it is, missed time, comes in, by that time we had gotten Peyton Hillis.  There were some other things, we drafted a young guy so there was competition there and he was affected by that I thought.  Even though he assured me he wasn’t and he’d compete.  He’s a good guy, Jerome Harrison is a good guy.  I always kind of feel this way, if a player is really unhappy and it makes some sense for the organization then you try and do something to make everybody right.  That’s kind of how it came down as much as anything.”

 (On if the Browns have any interest in Randy Moss)- “Has he already been waived?  I can’t answer that question then.  That’s a hypothetical, you’re trying to get me fined here.  First of all, I think Randy is a wonderful player. He had maybe his greatest game of his life against me in Green Bay on a Monday night game. We could not stop him, unbelievable.  Our focus I believe has to be on developing our younger receivers.”

 On what he is going to say to Eric Mangini when all the quarterbacks are healthy)- “We’re going to have that discussion.  When that discussion takes place then I will let everyone know.  Right now, I’d probably ask him, ‘What do you want to do?’  That’s the first thing I’d say,  ‘As the head coach of this team what do you want to do,’ and then we’ll go from there.”

 (On if the play calling would be different if the receivers were more talented)- “Let’s not jump on the receivers too much here.  Honest to goodness. I think they’re pretty good but their numbers just haven’t been very good.  Last year for obvious reasons, I think. This year for the reasons I stated.  The emphasis seems to be (Benjamin) Watson’s catching more passes, (Chansi) Stuckey’s catching more passes, our backs are catching more passes.  I would like to see, as you would, our wide receivers catch more passes but it’s not happening and I think there are two or three reasons there that I stated as the reasons they’re not.  To be I think the most effective offensive team you can be, I think it’s important that they catch passes, I would say that.  I think as we mature as an offensive football team, I would like to see that.”

(On if they want to see more of McCoy before they get a new quarterback in the draft next year)- “I think I have drafted a quarterback just about every year I have ever coached regardless of who was playing.  I always like to see a young guy and see him.  I don’t think if one thing happens that precludes you from drafting another quarterback I don’t think that.  Would you like to know a little more about your current youngin’? Yes.  Do I have a good feeling about him now and what he’s done? Absolutely, but it’s two games.  It’s such an important thing for any football team, I get it.  Remember what I said, ‘Man, I hope he doesn’t play at all, just let him learn,’ but now that was taken out of our hands, so now let’s just put the brakes on just a little bit and it will fall the way it’s supposed to fall I think.”

 (On wearing a suit on gameday and if he feels like he’s made a commitment to Randy Lerner and wants to see this job through in Cleveland)- “Absolutely, I made a promise and I’m going to stick with it.  Now, if I keep wearing a suit or not, we’ll see.”

 (On if the decision about the quarterback situation going forward into next April will be the most critical decision he will make as President of the Browns)- “I think it could be.  I’ve gone on the record many times as saying the most important player on your team is the quarterback. I think you have to get to the Super Bowl and become a viable playoff caliber team year after year after year. You have to have that guy.  I think it’s a huge decision Tony (Grossi), I do.  I’m stating the obvious I think.”

 (On if it is a coincidence that he hasn’t drafted quarterbacks at the top of the draft)- “Each year it falls a certain way.  We weren’t up there drafting real high very often, that’s the first thing.  Then in Green Bay, (Brett) Favre became a player so you’re not going to draft another quarterback high if you think you think you have your guy.  Then in Seattle once I thought (Matt) Hasselbeck was the guy then those years we weren’t going to draft anybody high.  I think that’s as much as anything but if you’re searching, if you’re not sure if you have the person in the building, I’m not opposed to taking a quarterback high.  If you take a quarterback in the first round you’re really saying he’s your guy.  Really, you’re saying he’s the next guy and you better be right about that one.  We’ve all seen teams, and I’m not even talking about the Browns now, we’ve all seen  teams historical over the years draft a guy high and really one, you pay them a ton of money, two, you’re obligated to play him, three, you’re owner feels strongly about this, and then if it does not work for the next two or three years you’ve probably passed on guys, maybe even longer.  It’s a huge deal.  Again, I am stating the obvious it’s a big deal but that’s the reason more than anything that we didn’t get a quarterback up high.”

 (On if up to this point the team is farther away from being a contender or not)- “I think we’re improved, I really feel that we’re improved.  Our records what it is and I’m not particularly happy with that but we are improved.  How long it takes you to get to the playoffs and all that? That’s hard to predict.  Look what’s happening in the league this year.  I think a lot of people would predict teams A and B would be in the championship game.  It’s all topsy-turvy a little bit.  Those things are hard to predict, but if you have a quarterback you believe in though you can build around that and get there a little faster I think.”


(On how the Browns draft picks are playing and the risk in taking Montario Hardesty)- “I think in (Joe) Haden and (T.J.) Ward, they’re playing a lot. They’re doing everything you can ask young people to do and I think that’s gone fine. Hardesty’s a big disappointment to all of us, not the young man you ought to see him working. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to talk to him, but just that it happened.  Now, the doctors are telling me that it was his other leg, it wasn’t the one in college, so the doctors are telling me it’ll come back and be stronger and all those things.  I’m hopeful about that.  Every once in a while stuff like that happens. The injury thing, I don’t know if you can predict it, I really don’t.  He had such a good year his senior year and he was fine.  I would say that’s bad luck.  I think Shawn (Lauvao), he’s been a little unlucky.  I think there was a chance he was going to start some games at right guard, certainly when we had those injuries to our tackle situation and had to move Chop (Floyd Womack) outside.  Then he would get a little nick or little something or hamstring or something or jump offsides and someone would get mad and put in someone else.  I really think he’s going to be fine, I think he’s going to be a fine player.  I’m pleased with what I see from Shawn and I think he’s also a center-guard candidate.”


(On if it is just luck with Hardesty)- “I don’t know, it’s just some guys you could say are injury prone I suppose or maybe it’s genetics I don’t know.  I remember in Seattle we drafted a big tackle Chris McIntosh from Wisconsin, started his rookie year. Big right tackle, good player, the next year he broke his neck and couldn’t play football anymore.  They said that was the biggest bust as a draft choice I’d ever picked.  He started as a rookie and was going to be a really good player for a long time, I thought, but then he got hurt.  That’s the sad part of this business at times.  I’m hopefully he’ll come back though, I really am.  I think he’s going to come back and play and we’ll all be happy that he’s here.”


(On the future for Shaun Rogers and if he still has enthusiasm)- “My talks with Shaun on a one-on-one basis are always pretty good. As you all know, he is very vocal. It’s interesting when you get him one-on-one though, it can be a little different deal. I know this, he played a very fine football game against New Orleans. That was a big part of why we won the football game. I have always said this, of the guys I have coaches against over the years, he as a defensive lineman gave me more problems than most people. I think ultimately it’s going to be Shaun’s call though. He’s had injuries that have slowed him down in the last couple of years and he’s played a long time. He commands a very big salary and he earns it when he is the Shaun Rogers that I know and love. It’s going to be his call, I think for as much as anything. He’ll let me know by how he plays and all those things about his future.”

(On if it is hard for him to not be over critical of the coaches)- “Any coach that thinks he has the only way to do something is nuts. I feel very strongly on how I did things. I believed for me and my staff and my personality, that was the exact way to do it. But heck, there are a lot of ways to do it. I watch and I give that speech to myself on occasion. I think it’s the right thing to do though. I kind of knew that, whether it was Eric or anyone else. They are going to do things differently than the way I did it. I had better be prepared to handle that or I shouldn’t have taken the job.”

(On if his previous comment about his suit means that he is itching to be back coaching)- “You are catching me at a weak moment. I just came off vacation (joking). I love coaching. I am doing what I am doing now and that’s what I plan to be doing. My commitment is to get the Browns going in the right direction and having people feel good about their football team in my role as the president. When I talk to Randy (Lerner) honestly about those things, I am being honest about it. Right now, that’s what I am going to do.”

(On the best thing about being President of the Browns)- “The football stuff, you know I love, I’m not getting into that, but when I can go around the building and see all our other departments. I kind of knew what they did and things like that, now I feel somewhat responsible for our marketing, sales, our community relations and all those things that I’ve gone into now more. What’s good for me as the president is seeing the good people we have working here doing a great job in those areas. When I came in, and we’ve talked about this before, you think you are going to come in and just change everything, it would be such a huge mistake without first meeting the people that are already here. We have good people here that care and do a great job. Now, we are tweaking little things and maybe coming at it from a little different angle. I think we are doing a decent job of teaching. Do they care? Will they work hard? Are they talented? Absolutely. That’s the part of my job now that I like the best.”

(On if there are similarities between McCoy and Matt Hasselbeck with them both not being highly regarded)- “That’s a tough comparison because there body types are different. Colt had much more college success than Matt did. Matt was a sixth round pick, played at Boston College but played at the end. The similarities are not unlike most of the guys that I have coached at that position. They are very bright, they are very competitive and they are good leaders. Then you get into the physical stuff and that’s where you get all the differences. In the intangibles, yes, I see some of the same stuff.”

(On people not giving him a standing ovation for Hasselbeck in the beginning)- “Keep in mind, Matt was drafted in the sixth round. That was a pattern we had established there. Mark Brunell, we took guys later, because either I saw something in him or position coaches. We were going to do that. We went looking for guys. I think Matt feel into that category. He got a chance to prove himself in the preseason. He was like the preseason player of the year for about three years. He was just throwing it everywhere. Then I felt I knew, ‘Okay, physically, he can do this, this and this. Now it’s just a matter of putting it all together.’”

(On if he has talked to Jim Brown at all recently)- “I wrote a letter to Jim after the dust settled just a little bit after we had the Ring of Honor. Again, I encouraged him and tried to let him know how I felt about him. Jim Brown will always be, in my mind, one of the greatest players that ever played. I understand what he means to the Cleveland Browns, I absolutely do. I am really so sorry that all of that happened because that was not my intention. I still wanted him to be a part of this organization in a certain way and the door is always open. But have I spoken to him? No.”

(On if he heard back from Brown since the letter)- “I don’t want to say something here and get my dates mixed up. I am not sure, now that you mention it, I don’t think so.”

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