President Mike Holmgren said today he hopes finish his five-year contract with the Browns that runs through 2014 despite the team’s impending change of ownership.
“I hope so,” Holmgren said. “That’s what my plan is. … I’ve never quit anything in my life.”
However, Holmgren’s future with the organization is uncertain at best. Jimmy Haslam III agreed to buy the Browns from Randy Lerner on Aug. 2, and NFL owners will hold a vote to approve the purchase during their meeting Oct. 16 in Chicago.
Holmgren said he and Bryan Wiedmeier, the Browns' vice president of business operations, plan to attend the owners meeting with Haslam. Holmgren might not be with the Browns long after that if former Philadelphia Eagles President Joe Banner fills the same role in Cleveland. NFL Network and several other media outlets have reported that Banner is a part of Haslam’s ownership group.
Holmgren said he doesn’t think Haslam’s arrival has been a distraction for the organization.
“I believe in the people we have here, and they’re going about business as usual,” Holmgren said. “I talked to the whole building a while ago, not only the coaches and the football people, but everyone else in the building and just said, ‘Look it. You’re good. We see light at the end of the tunnel. Keep doing what you’re doing, and we’ll see what happens.'"
Holmgren conceded he’s surprised 15 of the players on the Browns’ 53-man roster are rookies.
“I wasn’t keeping track of that really, and then I saw it and I don’t want to say it startled me, but it’s a pretty young group,” Holmgren said. “It is. … What we lack in experience, my hope is that we make up for it with enthusiasm, intelligence and skills. But we are young. We’ve chosen to build the team that way -- I’ve said it before – building the foundation, so the team can be good for a long time, and we’re just in that beginning stage now.”
Holmgren previously said he expects a big jump in progress this year and that a record of 6-10 wouldn’t be good enough. Does he think a big jump is attainable after watching training camp and the preseason?
“I hope so,” Holmgren said. “You know what? Anytime we actually talk about the numbers and the wins and losses, I get a little squirrelly, and I don’t mean to backtrack or anything like that. It’s just our schedule, I think we’re playing the NFC East, our division’s tough. Everyone’s good, but we play a pretty good schedule. But having said that, I think we’re gonna be a better football team this year.”
Proceed with caution
Holmgren said when the Browns drafted rookie running back Trent Richardson third overall in April, they didn’t know he would need the arthroscopic surgery he had on his left knee Aug. 9 to have a piece of loose cartilage removed.
Richardson practice this morning for the first time since Aug. 6, and coach Pat Shurmur recently said he’s “very optimistic” Richardson will play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Said Holmgren: “If he is able to play in the first ballgame … you’ve got to be careful. He hasn’t practiced [for a few weeks]. The worst thing we could do is rush before he’s ready. That’s a medical, training decision. They’ll help us with that one.”
Suspension on horizon?
Holmgren said he still doesn’t know of any update regarding cornerback Joe Haden’s possible suspension from the NFL for a reported failed drug test. Holmgren also said he doesn’t know whether Haden has appealed and caused a lack of an update from the league by doing so.
“It’ll happen when it happens,” Holmgren said. “And we’ll all deal with it when it happens.”
Holmgren said after the draft in April he was concerned Colt McCoy’s popularity could become a distraction for the Browns’ new starting quarterback, rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden.
However, Holmgren said McCoy has handled the situation “about as well as a human being can handle it, and not only that, I think he’s had a great camp. So now I will tell you I am less concerned about that whole thing than I was in April.”
Holmgren also praised Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in this year's draft, and said he'll be a great leader.