If Mike Holmgren agrees to direct the Cleveland Browns’ football operations, perhaps as soon as today, he will immediately face a striking conundrum.
Are the Browns winning in spite of coach Eric Mangini or because of him?
Even the Browns’ locker room seems to be split on the question.
“We were in the shower kidding about it, ‘Hey, man, the system works. Full pads, Mondays, it works,’” wide receiver/returner Joshua Cribbs said. “I guess it works. It’s trusting in our coaches. Let them coach and all we have to do is play.”
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Asked how he felt about Holmgren, Cribbs said, “I hope that he watched this game and last week. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with that. I can’t really comment because I don’t know where the organization is headed.”
With Sunday’s 41-34 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, the Browns (3-11) won back-to-back games for only the 13th time in the 11 seasons since the franchise returned in 1999.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Sunday that a “decision appears to be coming on Monday” from former Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks coach Holmgren, who interviewed for two days last week with Browns owner Randy Lerner. Citing an NFL source, Mortensen reported Holmgren’s deal with the Browns was expected to be worth $50 million, perhaps for 10 years.
On Saturday, Holmgren turned down an offer from the Seahawks to become team president. The Seahawks’ statement called it a “senior leadership” position.
Those record-breaking Browns
Walking with a cane, 73-year-old Jim Brown hurried downstairs Sunday to congratulate Jerome Harrison for rushing for 286 yards and erasing the Cleveland Browns record of 237 he had held since 1957.
“I made sure I came down early to be able to greet Mr. Harrison,” said Brown, who is an executive adviser for the Browns. “These young people deserve credit when they do something that great, especially under these circumstances. My heart goes out to him. I respect him a lot.”
Harrison, a fourth-year player from Washington State, was one of two record-breakers for the lowly Browns. Cribbs had a 100-yard kickoff return in the first quarter and a 103-yarder in the second. On the first one, he broke about half a dozen tackles and set the NFL career record with his seventh TD return.
On the second, he was hardly touched while breaking his own record that had stood for less than an hour.
Everyone knew Cribbs was a great kick returner. He came into the game tied with Gale Sayers, Ollie Matson, Dante Hall, Mel Gray and Travis Williams for the most touchdown returns in a career. But until Sunday, Harrison had never run for more than 121 yards in a game in his life.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was forced out of Sunday’s game against San Francisco with a bruised thigh. … Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck hurt his left knee in the third quarter against Miami and went straight to the locker room. … Chicago defensive lineman Adewale Ogunleye broke his left leg in the Bears’ loss to the Ravens, coach Lovie Smith said. … Oakland Raiders quarterback Charlie Frye was knocked out against Denver with a blow to the head.