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Mike Holmgren now says he should have coached the Browns


Mike Holmgren made a lot of mistakes as president of the Cleveland Browns. One of his mistakes, Holmgren now says, is not hiring himself as head coach.

Holmgren told Peter King of that in hindsight, he should have pushed back against the team’s ownership, which wanted him to be the top executive but not the coach.

“I really just should have coached the team, but he [owner Randy Lerner] didn’t want me to.”

It’s easy to see why Holmgren feels that way, because he’s been a better coach than an executive throughout his career. Holmgren did his best work as the head coach of the Packers at a time when Ron Wolf was Green Bay’s general manager, and after a brief and unsuccessful stint as both head coach and G.M. of the Seahawks, Holmgren had more success after giving up the G.M. job. In Cleveland, Holmgren oversaw a front office that made many mistakes, including retaining head coach Eric Mangini when it was clearly time to move on, hiring Pat Shurmur after firing Mangini a year too late, and using first-round draft picks on Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden.

However, Holmgren has previously said that he was the one who decided not to coach again, so it’s surprising that he’s now saying it was Lerner who kept him from coaching the Browns. We’ll never know how things would have turned out if Holmgren had coached the Browns, but it’s safe to say this: He would have struggled if his roster was put together by General Manager Mike Holmgren.

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72 Responses to “Mike Holmgren now says he should have coached the Browns”
  1. fin72 says: Apr 21, 2014 6:15 PM

    If he ended up coaching Kevin Costner would have fired him by now.

  2. Dogsweat says: Apr 21, 2014 6:15 PM

    The San Francisco 49ers is where Mike belongs as Coach.

  3. alshonbrandontandem says: Apr 21, 2014 6:16 PM

    The Great One himself, Da Coach, would have a hard time winning with that team. Cleveland is just destined to be terrible, regardless of who is coaching them.

  4. chad504boy says: Apr 21, 2014 6:17 PM

    Did he do anything right?

  5. nygmann says: Apr 21, 2014 6:18 PM

    Ahhhhh… he shouldn’t be too hard on himself. After all these are the Browns. Vince Lombardi would not be able to do well in this organization.

  6. toddc612 says: Apr 21, 2014 6:20 PM

    Gawd. And thought this guy had a big ego when he was coaching the Packers.. it seems to have inflated ten-fold since then. Get over yourself, Holmgren!

  7. slbasegame257 says: Apr 21, 2014 6:21 PM

    I actually think that the Browns have a fairly talented roster.

  8. swaggyy says: Apr 21, 2014 6:22 PM

    I just took the Browns to the Super Bowl on my lunch break at work.

  9. jollyjoker2 says: Apr 21, 2014 6:23 PM

    in other words – I can coach – I just can’t figure out who is talented or not.

  10. rolltide510 says: Apr 21, 2014 6:25 PM

    He’s got a point, but it could also be phrased “they never should have hired me to be anything but a coach, as I’m explicitly bad at all non-coaching aspects of football”.

  11. drock36 says: Apr 21, 2014 6:26 PM

    A great guy and excellent couch, but not an executive.

  12. MasMacho says: Apr 21, 2014 6:26 PM

    I met him in the SJC airport the year after he “left” the Seahawks. Nicest man. As he sat in the lobby patiently with his wife he was gracious enough to answer a few questions while I begged him to return to Seattle (he politely declined.)

    So it didn’t work in Cleveland. But nobody can get it done in Cleveland, so cut the guy some slack.

    Cleveland is a perennial loser for a reason, and that reason isn’t the guy that looks like a Walrus.

  13. ytownjoe says: Apr 21, 2014 6:26 PM

    Browns three big mistakes were Weeden, Richardson and Holmgren. They were better off with Mangini.

  14. Go-Hawks! says: Apr 21, 2014 6:27 PM

    He (and Shaun Alexander) took the Seahawks to a superbowl, but he has never been a great judge of talent.

  15. elway6532 says: Apr 21, 2014 6:30 PM

    I’ll never forget the stupid commercials of him flashing his Superbowl ring when he was hired as coach of the Rubber Chickens a few years back.

    The Walrus couldn’t get it done, and then the lowly USC dud comes in and they win a superbowl.

    He sure choked against the Broncos when he had Burt Favor as QB too!

    Ha ha. What a putz.

  16. thepftpoet says: Apr 21, 2014 6:31 PM

    Typical Green Bay Head Coaches….

    Mike McCarthy = Mike Holmgren 2.0

  17. jerruhjones says: Apr 21, 2014 6:31 PM

    No, he shouldn’t have. He did nothing for the team except get richer.

  18. hrmlss says: Apr 21, 2014 6:31 PM

    Him and Brett were perfect for each other, two big huge ego’s. And without Ron Wolf to pick the Talent, they would have been screwed.

  19. thestrategyexpert says: Apr 21, 2014 6:33 PM

    Sometimes to get the best results and to make sure the job is done exactly the way you want it done you need to just do it yourself.

  20. christopherdorow says: Apr 21, 2014 6:34 PM

    Holmgren is a backseat Einstein. Everything is obvious……after the fact.

    I should have fired Mangini after 1 year…

    I thought Delhomme could still play QB….

    Colt McCoy looked like a starter….

    Trent Richardson was a Hall of Famer….

    So what if Weeden was 30!

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

    Holmgren has not been relevant for 20 years!

  21. uglydingo says: Apr 21, 2014 6:38 PM

    Did Mike Holmgren take a bullet to make way for Sonny Weaver Jr? The Browns even had bad ownership, general management and poor draft preparation and draft strategy in the movie.

  22. franklinstking says: Apr 21, 2014 6:38 PM

    What a tool. . Your best days as a coach are behind you.

  23. orivar says: Apr 21, 2014 6:42 PM

    He’s an awful executive but if he coached the Brown it probably would’ve been a lot better. Then again they shouldn’t of fired Mangini either. I feel he deserved one more year, get more talent around. They had them playing good football and is still the only guy that could use Peyton Hillis correctly.

  24. emperorzero says: Apr 21, 2014 6:44 PM

    Great coach, horrible personnel man. This should have been obvious by the time he got to Cleveland.

  25. thegreatgabbert says: Apr 21, 2014 6:46 PM

    ..and if he’d run for President back in 2008, the country wouldn’t be in such a mess.

  26. jimthebuilder27 says: Apr 21, 2014 6:48 PM

    Hall of Fame coach with the Packers and Seahawks (I think a better coach than Tony Dungy) but he was a terrible executive for the Browns. He’ll unfortunately always be remembered for drafting a 29 year old rookie QB in the 1st round, which is too nad because he did so many good things in the NFL.

  27. dawgturd says: Apr 21, 2014 6:49 PM

    No, the Browns should have never hired him at all….at any level.

  28. pacodawg says: Apr 21, 2014 6:50 PM

    He should have a felony conviction
    For theft with the money he stole from the browns.

  29. jimthebuilder27 says: Apr 21, 2014 6:51 PM

    Mike Holmgren and Mike McCarthy did something the Vikings and their coaches have not…won Super Bowls!

    Chew on that Vikings fans, and roll in the excuses 😉

  30. wayneflores says: Apr 21, 2014 6:51 PM

    The Browns will always be losers. Doesn’t matter who coaches them, plays for them etc…Drastic change would help, New helmets, uniforms, name etc…They Will always be cursed if they don’t ever get out of the 1920s. It’s like watching a game on a black and white tv. Boring !

  31. axespray says: Apr 21, 2014 6:59 PM

    Awesome Front Office – Awesome QB and this doofus ran off to seattle…

    There are a ton of coaches that would’ve loved to be in his situation in the late 90s.

  32. Timothy Benton says: Apr 21, 2014 6:59 PM

    I do not know if you took the greatest coach ever, Lombardi and threw him in, if he could have coached, the problems were starting from the top and trickled down from there.

  33. tformation says: Apr 21, 2014 7:01 PM

    Brett Favre made Holmgren a genius in Green Bay. Holmgren hasn’t really done so well without Mr. Favre… in much of anything football related…

  34. grandpoopah says: Apr 21, 2014 7:06 PM

    More like he should have walked away after Seattle, before revealing himself as an overrated egomaniac who can’t judge talent to save his life. For crying out loud, he traded up with the one team in the NFL guaranteed not to take a RB, so he could take Trent Richardson third overall. It’s tough to top that level of incompetence.

  35. raiderlyfe510 says: Apr 21, 2014 7:10 PM

    Maybe he should have lived in Cleveland instead of trying to preside over the team from Seattle.

  36. thefiesty1 says: Apr 21, 2014 7:13 PM

    It wouldn’t have mattered. It’s the Browns. Only good for 4-5 wins a year.

  37. MichaelEdits says: Apr 21, 2014 7:14 PM

    He stank as a coach too. What did he win without Favre?

  38. fjd10 says: Apr 21, 2014 7:23 PM

    Ron Wolf loved Favre and stated that he regretted that he never gave Favre the kind of weapons he deserved. He is right. Favre was lifting a very average team for most of his career.

  39. johntonioholmes says: Apr 21, 2014 7:39 PM

    When he coached in the Seahawks, the NFC west was the weakest division in in the NFL, and he barely managed to win more than 8 games a season, with the one exception being 2005.

    He was good in Green Bay, but Green Bay had a ton of talent in those days.

    Bottom line: the guy is overrated. The Browns probably would have been even worse if he was coaching.

  40. bensstinkyfingers says: Apr 21, 2014 7:39 PM

    The browns WILL make the playoffs THIS YEAR, and Holmgren will take some credit because a few players that he ok’d to the roster are still on the team.

  41. morr24 says: Apr 21, 2014 7:40 PM

    I am hard pressed to think of a single coach who harmed his reputation more than Holmgren did after taking the Browns’ GM position.

  42. posmoo says: Apr 21, 2014 7:45 PM

    richardson and weeden was the real disaster.

  43. fdugrad says: Apr 21, 2014 7:46 PM

    He might be a bit long in the tooth at THIS point to coach, I don’t know. When Cle. hired him, it SHOULD have been as the coach. He PROVED he was a poor GM in Seattle ( Koren Robinson and Jeremy Stephens, for God’s sake). Why any organization would want him in the front office after his debacle in Seattle, is a mystery to me, however it DOESN’T shock me that “The Factory of Sadness” would do, what it did with coach Holmgren, namely, installing him as president. The fact that Holmgren is apparently only NOW realizing he has no skills as a GM, pretty much proves this obvious point!

  44. 1590t says: Apr 21, 2014 7:47 PM

    Horrible Personnel man
    Horrible Coach
    Simply Horrible – no matter what capacity

  45. bearshaterseverywhere says: Apr 21, 2014 7:51 PM

    I agree with him 100%, I feel bad for the Brown’s organization, I hope they have a winning season this year and make the playoffs! Historical franchises like this one deserve better.

  46. Big Ant TV says: Apr 21, 2014 7:58 PM

    holmgren should have coached yess he’s right!!!
    did we screw up picking weeden,richardson and etc maybe “weeden had potential” but umm yeah he should have coached and also should have let mangini stay

  47. nickinneohio says: Apr 21, 2014 7:59 PM

    Why is anyone even listening to this guy when he talks. Go away!
    Mike Holmgren = Snake oil salesman.

  48. Big Ant TV says: Apr 21, 2014 7:59 PM

    how can ya say he was bad in seattle they got too the super-bowl but got cheated by the steelers?

  49. jprcox says: Apr 21, 2014 8:04 PM

    Being a Seattle fan I’ll always be grateful to Holmgren for some good years. However, watching a Holmgren team can be like watching a chess game. Whereas a Carroll team is a smash mouth, do whatever you want, high flying circus act that ends up dominating from start to end.

    Carroll is 10x the coach.

  50. kingfish2013 says: Apr 21, 2014 8:05 PM

    I’m from Cleveland. He said multiple times he did not want to coach. He is so full of crap.

  51. bnwpnw says: Apr 21, 2014 8:09 PM

    Holmgren installed a winning culture in Seattle. Five straight playoff appearances, four straight division titles, three straight playoff runs into at least the second round, in that order. The 12th Man became a thing on his watch.

    Holmgren was also one incompetent officiating crew away from being the only coach to ever win the Super Bowl with two different teams.

    The Super Bowl XL roster was 90% the work of GM Holmgren. The crappy 2008-2009 rosters were largely the work of his successor (Ruskell).

    The Holmgren Plan takes more time than the typical spoiled billionaire allows. Cleveland was showing signs of real solidity before Criminal Mastermind Haslam bought the team, and is now back to a laughingstock after his departure.

    Is he perfect? No. History has not been kind to the Richardson or Weeden picks, or to being outmaneuvered by DC for RGIII (though the value of that prize is currently in doubt).

    Point is: You could do a lot worse than Holmgren, Cleveland. Current regime is pretty much a case in point.

    I think he’s got one more run down the sideline in him, and I suspect it’ll be in Dallas or SF.

  52. TeamBalco says: Apr 21, 2014 8:17 PM

    Turns out… I coach the Browns twice per day.

  53. getyourownname says: Apr 21, 2014 8:18 PM

    His problem isn’t that he’s wrong about being the coach. It’s that he doesn’t realize that if he was the coach, he should not have been running the front office too.

  54. fleaman1381 says: Apr 21, 2014 8:19 PM

    He might have done alright, Cleveland is only a few players away from being good. Unfortunately, one of those players needed is a QB and that’s a pretty important one. He hasn’t coached since 2008, so I’m wondering if his game would be there.

    Also, when I looked up his coaching stats I discovered he was a USC QB. Never knew that…

  55. ballreaper says: Apr 21, 2014 8:23 PM

    I just look up the meaning in the dictionary of ” OVERRATED” and “Still living off of Brett Favre COATTAILS” and guess what NAME pop up.

  56. citizenstrange says: Apr 21, 2014 8:30 PM

    The only thing Holmgren is good at is blaming the refs for losses.

  57. fdugrad says: Apr 21, 2014 8:46 PM

    Holmgren WASN’T “bad in Seattle” when he was ONLY the coach. I mentioned his debacle there in reference to the years he was ALSO the GM in addition to HC. He was kicked out of the front office and sent EXCLUSIVELY back to coaching prior to departing the Hawks. That’s where he belonged ALWAYS… on the field.

  58. boctavious says: Apr 21, 2014 8:46 PM

    Holmgren- was not the browns GM. Tom Heckert was.

  59. wabbitslayer says: Apr 21, 2014 8:55 PM

    SF without Steve Young…
    GB without Brett Favre….
    SEA without Shaun Alexander…

    and you have then imagined people saying Mike WHO?

    nothing like great players to make an average joe look like a coaching genius.

  60. realfootballfan says: Apr 21, 2014 9:40 PM

    I always figured he was going to but then Lerner sold the team. I figured he had Shurmur and Mangini originally for the one year just to absorb the losses that inherently come with a terrible roster, and then he’d swoop in Pat Riley style in year 4 or 5.

  61. filthymcnasty1 says: Apr 21, 2014 9:53 PM

    Holmgen’s arrival in Green Bay coincided with a rebirth that has been sustained at the highest level well into its third decade. His star never shined as brightly after his Packer stint, yet his time there was enough to ensure his place among NFL royalty for all time.

    Thanks Mike!

  62. borisbulldog says: Apr 21, 2014 10:53 PM

    I like Holmgren’s revisionist history.

    Wonder what he thinks about the German’s bombing Pearl Harbor?

  63. fishead015 says: Apr 21, 2014 11:13 PM

    Isn’t his 5 minutes up, I’m tired of hearing him talk about the Browns. When he was a memeber of the Browns he didn’t talk this much.

  64. brownsince64 says: Apr 21, 2014 11:18 PM

    What an egomaniacal farce.
    He was given complete control to do whatever he wanted to…coach, be GM, be a de facto owner…
    He and only he decided he did not want to coach..Why? Because he was too d**n lazy. He got paid 8 million a year to do NOTHING.

    In the end its sad..its apparent he does not have the energy to do anything, yet can’t stop trying to get back in the limelight..from the feeble attempts to find someone who might feel him out for a coaching gig a year after leaving the browns to these even worse attempts to garner more attention.

  65. brownsince64 says: Apr 21, 2014 11:22 PM

    And why is ANYONE asking this guy about drafting a QB??? rumor in cleveland:
    1) He told Heckert to trade 3 draft picks to move up one slot to take Richardson
    2) He came out from behind the curtain ala Wizard of Oz to mandate they draft Colt McKoy
    3) Weeden was his pick.

    thanks Mike. Have fun sipping your umbrella drinks.

  66. Big Ant TV says: Apr 21, 2014 11:46 PM

    if it wasn’t for Holmgren the seahawks would still be a laughing stock and not household name
    he drafted shaun alexander,lofa tatufu,steve hutchinson,marcus trufant,walter jones “i think”
    he started and built that winning culture in seattle cause we all know b4 he got there they were not winning!!! he didnt draft hasselback but hey his trade for him help them win alot of games and get in the playoffs alot did it not!!!
    sure all his drafts were not good but hey if it wasn’t for him seattle seahawks would still be a laughing stock like my Cleveland Browns
    if the refs where not cheating for the steelers he’s be even more legend 2 super bowls with 2 different teams!!! think bout it folks

  67. judalation says: Apr 21, 2014 11:53 PM

    WAIT… It could have been WORSE?

  68. realskipbayless says: Apr 22, 2014 12:12 AM

    I didn’t think he was that bad of a coach for the Seahawks. He got them to a superbowl. But yeah it’s a shame he’s gonna be remembered for the browns.

  69. campcouch says: Apr 22, 2014 1:18 AM

    Maybe he’s angling for a new job somewhere.

  70. sfm073 says: Apr 22, 2014 2:48 AM

    The pat shurmur hiring was maybe the most dumbfounding moves I’ve ever seen.

  71. denverdude7 says: Apr 22, 2014 7:56 AM

    Despite all the front office manuevering the Browns have done this year this team is destined for a 6 win season at best.

    Sadly, this will be seen as an improvement.

    The bottom line is still the bottom line in the NFL. If a team is going to win consistently it must spend money to aquire and keep top talent as well as finding a few diamonds in the rough along the way.

    The Browns are still trying to play “checkbook” football as evidenced by consistently being so far under the salary cap.

    You heard it here first… The Factory of Sadness will continue at full production of tears for at least 5 more years.

  72. mrfrostyj says: Apr 22, 2014 7:09 PM

    Cleveland fans correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Holmgren say at one time that he was offered the Head Coaching gig by their GM at the time and he turned it down and suggested Pat Shurmur instead? Now he’s turning around and blaming Randy Lerner. What’s funny is every time the Browns start to look like a real team it seems like this guy is coming out of the woodwork to attempt to defend himself.

    Fact is the guy he fired (Mangini) had a team that on paper shouldn’t have won more than 2 games yet consistently won more than his successor (Pat Schurmur) did with the same squad and then the all star team of high draft picks he got his second season.

    At the end of the day you know you’re bad at your job when the guy that hires you regrets it so much he SELLS THE TEAM AND DOESN’T EVEN TELL YOU. At least Browns fans have that to thank Holmgren for. The new owner may possibly be a crook at his day job but at least he’s smarter football wise than the last guy was and seems to care about the franchise.

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