Holmgren takes over Cleveland Browns
BEREA, Ohio – Browns president Mike Holmgren has begun his first day of work at the team’s facility, where he is expected to meet with coach Eric Mangini.
The team said in a release that Holmgren, recently hired by Cleveland owner Randy Lerner to fix his NFL franchise, would be available to the media at 4 p.m. The one-sentence release did not mention if there would be any announcement or if Mangini would attend.
It is not known when Holmgren planned to have his face-to-face talk with Mangini, who had an eventful first season as Cleveland’s coach.
The Browns started 1-11 but won their final four games, a surge that may save Mangini’s job. The winning streak is Cleveland’s longest since 1994 under then-coach Bill Belichick and it may have shown Holmgren that Mangini has the Browns pointed in the right direction.
Holmgren is the only member of Cleveland’s front office deciding Mangini’s fate. Lerner hired Holmgren, who led the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl title, to preside over his team without interference. Holmgren said recently that it would only take him “a little while” to determine if Mangini will be back for a second year. He promised not to be swayed by winning streaks – or losing skids.
“Any decisions I make regarding the coaching staff, or anybody there, will not be based on three games or two games or one game,” Holmgren said. “I think it’s the total body of work. I’ve got to see progress.”
Mangini said on Monday that he had no gut feeling about his future, but that he was proud of his accomplishments since taking over the Browns, who finished 5-11, one game better than their 4-12 mark in Romeo Crennel’s final season as coach. Mangini described what he inherited in Cleveland as “a mess.”
From the start, Mangini attempted to instill discipline into the Browns but some of Cleveland’s players rebelled against his coaching methods, complaining about the length of practices and amount of contact. A few Browns filed grievances with the players’ association against Mangini. He famously fined one player $1,701 for not paying for a $3 bottle of water during a hotel stay.
On Nov. 2, the Browns fired general manager George Kokinis, who had been hand-picked by Mangini. Kokinis recently filed for arbitration against the team, saying it did not allow him to fulfill the duties outlined in his contract. He’s seeking more than $4 million in compensation and damages.
The off-the-field issues served as a backdrop during Cleveland’s horrendous start, but the team regrouped down the stretch and played inspired football. The Browns began their season-ending flourish with a nationally televised win over Pittsburgh, snapping a 12-game losing streak against their rival. Behind a rugged running game, they followed with wins over Oakland and Kansas City and concluded Mangini’s first season with a snowy 23-17 win over Jacksonville.
In the closing seconds, Browns players dumped Gatorade over Mangini’s head, perhaps the most surprising moment of any during his 12 months on the job.