Holmgren Talks Hillis, McCoy, and Hiring an Offensive Coordinator Next Season

Mike Holmgren was brought to Cleveland to try and do what he did while in Seattle - get a team to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

Cleveland Browns President Mike Holmgren was under some scrutiny yesterday. He couldn’t find time to make himself available to the local media, but he had no problem appearing on a Seattle radio station as his current team, the Browns, prepares to face the Seattle Seahawks, his former team.

Holmgren must have been aware of the turmoil surrounding his decision not to talk to local reporters. Today, he addressed the media during a press conference, and had some interesting comments about his future with the organization, Colt McCoy, and his star running back, Peyton Hillis.

Here, we’ll review those comments, and discuss what they just might mean for the Cleveland Browns moving forward.

Addressing the Local Media

Holmgren is the team’s president, not the head coach or general manager. It’s usually the head coach, Pat Shurmur, who addresses the media. How many team presidents do you know that address the media? Not many. As far as his appearance on a Seattle radio show, who really cares? It’s his former team, and they’re traveling to Cleveland to take on his current team. Holmgren went on to say that he’s “backed away from the formal press conferences to allow Pat Shurmur and Tom Heckert the opportunity to speak for the team”.

So what’s the big deal? He talked about the game on a Seattle radio show. The media in Cleveland got their opportunity to speak with him today, so order, at least for now, has been restored between Holmgren and the media.

Holmgren’s Future With the Team

When Holmgren was hired as the Browns team president, I was skeptical. I knew he’d start to turn this organization around, but it’s going to take longer than five years (the length of his contract) to do so. The question then became “Would he see this thing all the way through?”. During his time with the media today, he addressed that very question.

There was an uneasy feeling around Cleveland when Holmgren told those listening to the Seattle radio show that he probably wouldn’t be in Cleveland in 10 years. Today, he wanted to reiterate his current stance with the team. He told reporters, “I’m all in with the Browns and community,” and he’s “committed” to the team despite his comments on the radio show.

He also said that he’s optimistic about the Browns future, but it’s going to take some time. Although his current contract is for five years, he told the media that he’s not opposed to staying beyond his five year deal and wants to make sure he’s doing a good job in Cleveland.

What it means…

In all honesty, do fans really expect Holmgren to end his career in Cleveland? He’s one of the greatest football minds currently in the league, and tends to thrive in the current situation he’s in with the Browns. The Seahawks may not be the team they were when he was with the organization, but that’s not his fault. He did take the team to their first Super Bowl. I can assure you, that if Holmgren takes the Browns to the Super Bowl, he’ll be considered the greatest man to ever live by Browns fans.

What About the Peyton Hillis Drama?

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last month, you’re fully aware of the Peyton Hillis drama (Madden Curse) going on in Cleveland.

The star running back for our beloved Browns has faced intense scrutiny for the way he’s handled his contract situation. (Google “Peyton Hillis sits out Miami game” for best example.) Holmgren said that he wouldn’t address anyone’s contract situation publicly, but did say that an extension hasn’t been signed just yet. He admitted, however, that the current drama surrounding Hillis has created roadblocks in negotiations, but no one has called off talks. Things have been quiet when it comes to the Hillis contract situation, but Holmgren said he has talked to Hillis and they’re just letting the “dust settle” and then they’ll see what happens. He has also told Hillis that he’s trying to keep him.

Remember on Tuesday (the NFL’s trading deadline) when rumors surfaced that the Browns were reportedly shopping Peyton Hillis? The organization stated that there was no intent to trade Hillis. Holmgren reiterated that to the media today when he told reporters that there was no way he was going to trade one of their “best players”.

What it means….

There’s a strong belief that the Browns organization doesn’t value Peyton Hillis the way the fan base does.

After Holmgren’s comments, that doesn’t appear to be necessarily true. Maybe they’re not as high on him as Hillis would like them to be, but there’s no denying that Holmgren, at least, wants Hillis on the team. When all is said and done, Holmgren has the final say on who’s on the roster, and who’s cut, waived, traded, or whatever. I don’t think Hillis is going to get the contract he wants, but I think he’ll ultimately settle on what has been offered by the organization.

If the Browns were trying to shop Hillis, there obviously wasn’t any takers. That means Hillis no longer has the upper hand in negotiations, as he now knows that the rest of the league doesn’t seem to value his style of play either. The shelf-life for a running back in the NFL is 5-6 years on average, though some of the greats can stretch their careers just a little longer. With Hillis’ physical style of play, we’re looking at another 3-4 years, if we’re lucky, from our star back. I think ultimately Hillis will come to his senses, and sign whatever contract the Browns present him with. For now, Hillis just needs to focus on getting healthy so that he can prove his worth on the football field.

Mr. Holmgren? What’s Up With Colt McCoy?

Like Peyton Hillis, Colt McCoy has also been the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. McCoy’s inconsistency and apparent lack of accuracy has caused the media and fans to ask the question, “Is McCoy the right guy for the job?”. After Holmgren’s comments today, it appears as if the question will be asked all year-long in Cleveland.

There’s no denying that McCoy has struggled in his first full season as the Browns starting QB. Some fans, however, claim that McCoy has regressed since the start of the season. Holmgren is fully aware of McCoy’s struggles, stating that “McCoy is playing well, but he’s also playing young”. The team is committed to McCoy has their starting QB, but Holmgren stated that beyond this year, we’ll see.

Holmgren said that this is basically McCoy’s “tryout” for the team’s starting QB position, and he’ll be evaluated as the season progresses. The team is rooting for McCoy to do well, but it’s not a guarantee that he’ll be the starter beyond this season.

If McCoy needs any motivation to get his act together, Holmgren certainly provided that today during his press conference. When asked about the QB situation, Holmgren told the media that he’s not opposed to switching the QB every year until he gets it right. He then went on to say that, “you have to find the right person”, leading to speculation that maybe – just maybe – that person isn’t Colt.

What it means…

It’s a no brainer. Holmgren’s comments mean that McCoy needs to get it together. Period.

We all know that Holmgren has a fascination with QB’s, especially young ones that he can develop. (See Brett Favre) In McCoy’s defense, he wasn’t exactly put into the greatest situation. He has a new head coach, a new offensive scheme, and new players surrounding him. Shurmur isn’t doing him any favors by calling 61 passing plays either. In a perfect world, McCoy would have this season and next season to prove himself as the team’s starting QB, but in all likelihood that’s not the way it’ll go down. The NFL is a very unfair league, starters lose their spots all the time, teams cut players, trade players, etc.

I truly believe that the organization wants McCoy to be their QB moving forward, but it’s really up to Colt. I think Colt would even tell you that he needs to improve drastically, as he is his biggest critic. To expect Colt to lead this team to the promise land with the current situation is a tad unfair. Personally, because of the lockout, I’d give McCoy until at least the midway point of next season. He would then be in his second year as the team’s starter, he’d be more familiar with the offense and what Coach Shurmur is trying to do, and, most importantly, it’ll allow him to become familiar with the guys surrounding him on offense.

What About an Offensive Coordinator?

One of the most intriguing statements Holmgren made during his press conference was when he said that the team will likely hire an offensive coordinator next season. He did say, however, that Coach Shurmur would continue to call the plays.

What it means…

Often times throughout the season Coach Shurmur has looked like he’s in over his head. Cleveland is his first-ever head coaching position, and had only been the Rams’ offensive coordinator for two seasons prior to being hired by Holmgren. During those two seasons, the Rams’ offense wasn’t lighting the league on fire.

I can only imagine that being a head coach at any level is stressful enough, especially in the NFL. Shurmur has compounded that stress by also taking on the offensive coordinator duties. That certainly can’t be easy on Shurmur.

I’m not saying that Shurmur doesn’t know what he’s doing, but I think it’s just too much for him in his first season. You look around the league, and not many head coaches wear the two hats that Shurmur does. Even though Shurmur is likely to continue to call plays, having an actual coordinator on offense will give him another opinion – a brain to pick – when calling plays. This is certainly good news for Colt McCoy and Browns fans who are urging Shurmur to step-down from his coordinator duties and stick to his head coaching position.

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