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Is Holmgren fit to be a king?

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Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:27 p.m.
By Eric Edholm

Let's take a step back here for a second.

Mike Holmgren … a mostly wonderful NFL career. As a coach.

And even that is only partly true. He was great in Green Bay, aided by one of the best general managers (Ron Wolf) of the past 30 years, a Hall of Fame quarterback and a rock-star coaching staff. Not that Holmgren didn't have anything to do with all of that. He helped coach up Brett Favre and in most cases handpicked the assistants, many of whom went on to NFL success there and elsewhere.

But you throw in Seattle, and it gives you proper perspective. He was 31-33 in his first four seasons as the coach/GM (the same record, as many have pointed out, as Dennis Erickson had up there) before the GM part of the equation was taken away. Holmgren didn't find postseason success until his seventh season there.

So do the Browns really want someone as their football "czar" as it is being said who was fired as a GM and who was gently nudged out the door (or certainly not talked out of "retiring") when he left the Seahawks?

Are we not going through what we saw with Randy Lerner hiring Eric Mangini? Maybe apples and oranges here, but the common denominator of both situations is that Lerner went with the well-known name with questionable qualifications.

Holmgren helped resuscitate a Green Bay franchise mostly devoid of life before he got there, but that was as a coach. Can he do the same as a team president? He really didn't do it in Seattle.

His top draft picks in his four years as GM there:

  1. 1999: DE Lamar King (65 games, 12 sacks)
  2. 2000: RB Shaun Alexander (9,453 rushing yards, 100 rushing TDs, MVP award)
  3. 2001: WR Koren Robinson (4,244 receiving yards, 16 TDs, one Pro Bowl with Vikings, countless violations of NFL's substance abuse program)
  4. 2002: TE Jerramy Stevens (2,151 receiving yards, 22 TDs, still active with Tampa Bay)

That's a .250 batting average (I don't consider Robinson a hit) with one big home run.

It should be noted that Holmgren's second first-round pick in 2001, OG Steve Hutchinson, turned out to be, well, decent. We're talking about a potential Hall of Fame guard. And there were other hits along the way: WR Darrell Jackson in Round Three, 2000; CB Ken Lucas, a decent player, in Round Two, 2001; DT Rocky Bernard in Round Five, 2002; and a small handful of other nice, serviceable players.

But the misses are bad. Brock Huard, Karsten Bailey, Antonio Cochran, Chris McIntosh (first-round pick), Ike Charlton, Marcus Bell, Curtis Fuller, Maurice Morris (let's face it: he is what he is, not a second-rounder), Anton Palepoi, Kris Richard and Terreal Bierria and so on. And those are just the fourth-rounders and higher.

All I am saying is that if you hire Holmgren — for $7 million a year, or whatever — you had better hire a GM to go with him, like the Parcells-Ireland arrangement in Miami. I doubt Mike would want to go out on the road every week and scout college players and do the dirty work, and heck, at this point in his career, why would he?

The Browns or Seahawks or whoever else gets in on him, they had better realize what hiring Holmgren means. It means bringing an air of professionalism to the organization. And he might have a very good idea for a direction for the team, and possibly even who he might want as his coach. But if you're expecting someone to come in and magically become a brilliant evaluator of talent, you're barking up the wrong tree here.

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