I am not an expert on the NFL. Trust me, I don't know everything about contracts, handshake agreements, or salary caps. But as a fan of the NFL with what I believe is a fairly extensive knowledge of the sport...and for argument sake I would like to take a stab at fixing the franchise that is the Cleveland Browns. This franchise deserves to win. They have a great knowledgable and loyal fan base, their fans deserve better. With the news of owner Randy Lerner firing GM George Kokinis, I couldn't help but think that this is not the answer. So, I will pretend to be Lerner, venturing into the 2010 offseason and little no to regards for money...
First thing first, I am FIRING ERIC MANGINI and the entire coaching staff. I do not understand the hype of this guy. He got all of his credit for beating the NEw England Patriots when he was a rookie head coach for the New York Jets in 2006. He beat them after he lost to them after the first time they played them...SINCE that game, where "Mangenius" beat the Pats he has gone 19-28, including a late season collapse in 2008, a 4-12 season in 2007, 1-7 to start this season, oh, and becoming the NFL's biggest snitch after busting the Patriots for cheating (Didn't Mangini coach with the Patriots during the time that he alleges the Patriots cheated?). This guy is a joke. All bark, no bike...so he is OUT. So who do I hire to lead this team? I need to make a decision on this before re-doing the roster. This team needs identity. Let's take a look at some of candidates...there are alot.
Bill Cowher...no, not going to Cleveland after being loyal to Pittsburgh, plus living in the Carolina's, I have a feeling he might be a Panther next year.
Mike Shanahan...possible, but doubt it. Despite all the "not gonna do it's" that I've read, I think Shanahan is going to Washington.
Jon Gruden...this seems likely as well, but I have a feeling Gruden is either staying put as the next John Madden, or going to a higher profile job...but really don't count it out.
My vote for the next Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns? Mike Holmgren. This guy is PERFECT. He will want to play GM as well, and quite frankly he can have the job. It just means one less guy I have to hire. Holmgren has a proven track record of turning abysmal teams to gold and finding a QB he can grow with. Think of pre-Holmgren and Brett Favre Green Bay, and pre-Holmgren and Matt Hasselbeck Seattle. Both of those teams became Super Bowl contenders because of Holmgren's abilities to draft and find free agent gold mines. So Mike Holmgren, welcome to the Cleveland Browns.
Second, that pesky little QB situation. Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn? NEITHER. Both guys have big contracts and both guys have a hard time completing more then 10 passes in a game. I'm trading both of these guys for draft picks. I'm thinking I could pawn a third rounder for Quinn to a desperate franchise (Washington, Seattle, San Fransisco, Tennessee, or St. Louis), and Anderson might get me a fifth. So there are two-three, maybe more extra picks for Holmgren to play with.
Speaking of the draft, what would Holmgren do? I'm thinking the Browns are in line for a top three pick in a draft with ALOT of QB's. The offensive line is already fairly solid, WR's are definitley an issue, I need a RB (Jamal Lewis said he's retiring after this season, but whether he's telling the truth or not, he's got to go.), and I need defense. All of it. So let's draft a team.
First pick, Jake Locker, QB University of Washington. If Holmgren and the front office can stay away from all the hype of Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy, I'm thinking Locker will be the best QB in the draft. He's got mobility like Tony Romo, and great arm, and has played in a system that isn't like the spread formations those other guys played in. So Locker, welcome to the team.
If I can finagle a trade or two to get back into the first round or another second rounder, this is where I go defense. I need an attitude and a face for my defense. This is where I pick Brandon Spikes ILB from Florida. This guy is a beast and I think he will be perfect to give my defense some attitude.
Now, I need some weapons for my young QB. A good running game is the best friend of a young QB. There are a few options here, and this could be the least likely but a very good option. I want a young RB, but do I really want a rookie back there to pick up blitzes and keep my QB safe? NO. So I'm doing two things. One, signing Steelers RB Willie Parker. He may have lost a step but I think he can still provide something for us. Second, calling an old trade partner, Jerry Jones from the Dallas Cowboys, and I am trying to swing a trade (a second, third, fourth, and/or fifth) for Marion Barber or Tashard Choice. Both RB's are young, good, and can pick up blitzes. I'm not sure if they would do this, but it's worth a shot, and I've traded with Jones before.
Ok, it's the day after the draft. I have a QB, a LB, a couple RB's and some excitement. Now for the free agent market. There is a possibility that the salary cap may not be an issue. So, I'm looking to spend some money. To bolster my defense, I'm throwing the entire city at Panther's DE Julius Peppers. With him and Shaun Rogers in the middle, I could have the makings of a pretty good Defensive Line. I also have rookie Spikes at MLB. I need more though on defense. I need a secondary. Based off of preliminary free agent possiblities safties Dawan Landry from Baltimore and Will Allen from Miami might be available. What about WR? I need a playmaker, a great WR, and someone who is not going to cause problems. If I don't draft a guy like Dez Bryant from Oklahoma State or Mike Williams from Syracuse, I'll need to find someone. I already like the potential of Mohammad Massaquoi as a number 2 WR, but I want someone to be the "go-to" guy. I'm going to go with Arizona Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin. I'm swinging a trade, giving him a big contract and getting him the ball.
After all these changes, I may not be setting the Browns up for a Super Bowl Championship in 2010, but I have gone with a youth movement and a veteran leader in Mike Holmgren. This team is set for the future.
I have fixed the Cleveland Browns.