As Browns Go Backwards, Honeymoon Is Over for Holmgren and Heckert

In late 2009 Mike Holmgren was hired to turn around a listless Browns team that was mired in an uncompetitive 5-11 season.  He tabbed Tom Heckert early on to be the GM that manage the ensuing ‘rebuild’.  Nearly two years later the Browns are a listless team[gallery]

that will probably struggle to win 5 games in a season in which they have an extremely soft schedule.  After already changing QB’s three times in that span, firing a head coach, and many head-scratchers in the personnel department, it’s unclear if any progress has been made.

The Browns of late 2009 won 4 straight games by being a tough, physical team that pounded the football by running the ball extremely effectively (including a 285 yard performance by Jerome Harrison).  The 2010 Browns had a brutal schedule, and their record didn’t indicate progress, but beating the defending Super Bowl champs on their home turf and following that up with a win against the Patriots the follow week made it seem as though the team was headed in the right direction.

It seemed as though the Browns were just a few small pieces away from being real contenders.  They had a stud running back, a bright young QB, and a young core.  But 5 games into the 2011 season all of those are on shaky ground, and the team looks as bad offensively as it ever did in the years prior to the Holmgren/Heckert takeover.

Fans embraced the phrase “in Holmgren we trust” blindly, but now it’s apparent that that blind loyalty to Homgren and Heckert might be misplaced.  By far the negative moves have outpaced the positives. 

The signing of Delhomme, showing the door to several core players (Vickers, Elam), the mishandling of the Peyton Hillis injury/contract, signing Chris Gocong to a large contract, not yet re-signing D’Qwell Jackson,  and failing to improve the team even the slightest bit have all lead some to question if the team was committed to winning. 

It’s only been 5 games, but it’s easy to question whether the hiring of Pat Shurmer was a mistake as well.   The team has never looked so underprepared as they have consistently the past 5 games, especially this past week after their bye.  Eric Mangini definitely had faults, but he was never underprepared for a game.  Compare the Browns post-bye week game in 2010 against this year’s. 

All this begs the question, what exactly have H&H done in Cleveland to merit even a passing grade at this poing?  To be fair, Tom Heckert appears to have had 2 good drafts in a row,  but a few of those players seem to have lost some of their initial polish (TJ Ward, Shaun Lauvao), and there doesn’t appear to be a big-time playmaker in the bunch.

I’m not saying that it’s time to tun on H&H, but it is time to take an objective look at what impact either has brought to the team.  I realize it’s only been a year and a half, but Browns fans have seen this movie before and won’t be willing to sit through yet another season of uncompetitive football where the team is eliminated from contention before the leaves have fallen off the trees.  Then watch as another management team tears the team down only to show incremental improvement after a few seasons.

Having said all that, the season is still only 5 games old, and the team is 2-3 after all and a win against Seattle at home this weekend would go a long way to settle disgruntled fans.  A loss may turn them to revolt.

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