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Ten-Point Stance: Failing to find franchise QB dooms Holmgren in Cleveland

by | National NFL Insider

Mike Holmgren is gone and this is the best way to describe his tenure: an utter, complete disaster.

This goes beyond Holmgren's putrid record. The Browns' .263 winning percentage is second-worst in NFL since he took over in 2010. Holmgren showed almost no acumen at judging talent, which sources say is an important part of building a team. One of his key draft picks was a 76-year-old quarterback who has been average at best.

Holmgren's pick as a head coach, Pat Shurmur, has pretty much been a clusterfudge. Shurmur's such a lame duck now his press conferences should include fresh orange sauce. He's 5-17 as Browns coach and is beginning to show signs of melting down, recently tossing a few expletives at a reporter who asked a legitimate question about Trent Richardson's excused absence from a practice.

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Holmgren is the team president and not the general manager, but make no mistake: No matter the Browns' spin attempt, Holmgren was the team's decider.

He was a great coach who had no business being in a front office.

In some ways, Holmgren deserves sympathy. He was asked to fix the Titanic after it hit an iceberg. The Browns haven't been the same since the Art Modell move and Paul Brown himself might not be able to right the ills of this team.

Yet with Holmgren, this is now fact. He got the Cleveland job based on his reputation in Green Bay -- and what he did in Green Bay was live off Brett Favre's arm.

And in the end that's what Holmgren couldn't do in Cleveland. He couldn't find another Favre or relative facsimile. The Packers did find another Favre. They got Aaron Rodgers. A franchise quarterback can cover a great many ills. He can make a horrible team respectable and a respectable team champions. See: Brady, Tom.

Holmgren also had success in Seattle. But mostly as a coach. He won five division titles and went to the franchise's only Super Bowl. He was stripped of his general manager duties and that's the thing. He wasn't a personnel guy.

Now the Browns have new ownership, and a new hierarchy will try to succeed where Holmgren failed. Joe Banner will run football operations and like Holmgren, this regime has a brutal task. Banner is different from Holmgren. There's more personnel depth, and unlike Holmgren, he didn't get the job living off Favre's legacy.

2. Continuing to hear from NFL assistant coaches that Nick Saban is ready for a return to the NFL. If he did want to make a pro comeback, don't be so sure he would be the hottest commodity. His tenure in Miami ended so badly there would be questions about whether he could be trusted if things went badly.

3. The end in Philadelphia might not be very pretty. At all. Andy Reid has basically been told win this year, or else. As a response, Reid is getting desperate. He fired his defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo. Now, Castillo hasn't been very good at times and some Eagles players have publicly questioned his play calling, but this move nonetheless appears desperate. Not to mention Castillo is a convenient scapegoat for Mike Vick's fumbles. That's the impression floating around football, and not from a few people, either.

"So begins Andy Reid throwing people overboard to save his own ass," one team executive said.

And former Eagles are checking in. "Sometimes you have to blame yourself," tweeted former Eagle Asante Samuel, now in Atlanta. "You can't try and always point the figure (sic) at someone else."

Samuel added: "I'm just saying... Aint no decline over here #riseup"


4. And if Vick keeps turning the ball over, he's the next scapegoat.

5. Beyonce will headline the Super Bowl halftime show. This bears repeating: Beyonce will headline the Super Bowl halftime show. Thank you. Have a nice day.

6a. Champ of the week: Beyonce. Something about a Super Bowl halftime show.

6b. Chump of the week: The entire Chargers organization. Choking dogs are calling the Chargers choking dogs.

6c. Tweet of the week: Samuel's tweet. One of the better taunting tweets.

7. Pittsburgh defensive lineman Alameda Ta'amu is talented, which is the reason why he has a job. Unbelievably, Earth-shatteringly, amazingly still has a job after pulling one of the all-time alleged felonious stunts in recent NFL history. And that's saying something.

Ta'amu is charged with felony counts of fleeing police and aggravated assault while driving drunk, three additional felony counts of aggravated assault for nearly running down police officers with his vehicle, and 10 misdemeanors, including resisting arrest and attempting escape. I mean, that is a Pacman Jones level of mayhem.

The Steelers' reaction to Ta'amu's alleged horrendous conduct? Two-week suspension without pay. That's it. That's all he got.

It's Christmas in Pittsburgh for Ta'amu.

The next time the Steelers or any other team proclaims that character matters, think of Ta'amu, and laugh your ass off.

8. Anyone jumping off the 49ers' bandwagon is a fool.

9. For such a smart guy --Princeton background and all -- Jason Garrett has a really hard time with a clock. His issues with clock management. demonstrate both the strengths and weaknesses of someone who is basically a play caller but gets so obsessed with that, he has difficulty seeing the bigger picture during a game.

10. This is almost a guarantee: The entire Chargers front office and coaching staff will get blown up after the season. It doesn't matter if the team just makes the postseason. The Chargers need to get to at least a title game. This isn't speculation. This is what I'm hearing from extremely nervous people inside the organization. There's almost a recklessness in the air after that horrendous loss to Denver on Monday night.

Norv Turner deserves a great share of blame, sure. Great coordinator, ineffective head coach. And by ineffective, Turner is almost Ray Handley-like.

The real issue with the Chargers, however, is at the top of the franchise. A.J. Smith has been as bad a GM as Turner is a head coach. It was Smith who fired Marty Schottenheimer after the coach went 14-2 in 2006. That firing symbolizes the recent Smith era: losing talent and failing to replace it. He lets players go (and doesn't replace that talent level) or he angers them to the point where it disrupts the team. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson was a beast in that San Diego offense and now he's in Tampa. Jackson was no angel off the field, but obliterated defenses on it. Who scares defenses now among that receiving group? Robert Meachem?

Look at other top general managers around the sport and what they do. The Giants lose massive talent and replace it. The Ravens lose massive talent and replace it. The Patriots. Hell, even the Bengals have done a better job than the Chargers.

Do you think the reason the Chargers have gone from 13-3 in 2009 to 9-7 in 2010 to 8-8 last year is all Turner's fault? That the team hasn't made the playoffs since 2009 is all Turner's fault?

Turner will become the scapegoat for what's going to be another disappointing Chargers season -- check that, he already is the scapegoat. Smith has skated in the past while Turner was roasted like bovine over a campfire. That's going to change. We'll likely see a mass firing at the end of the Chargers' season that will include Smith, the man perhaps most responsible for creating this mess.


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