Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Evaluating Holmgren/Heckert - First Major Moves

Some will argue it is too early in the "5-year plan" to fairly evaluate the Holmgren/Heckert regime, but I don't think new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam will agree. I expect Haslam to look at each and every move H&H have made with the scrutiny of someone who wants to win now.

First we'll take a look at the initial test each man faced. For Heckert, it was the 2010 draft. For Holmgren, it was deciding who would coach the team in 2010-11.

Let's start with the draft:

CB Joe Haden at #7 overall. Haden had a fantastic rookie year with a bit of a drop in play last season. His future is still very bright... drug suspension non-withstanding. I like this pick a lot. Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, Giants) turned out to be the best player drafted after Haden, but he was considered a reach by the G-Men at 15. B+/A-

SS T.J. Ward at #38 overall. Ward's first two season mirror Haden's: great rookie season, sophomore slump. But for Ward, the majority of the problem last year was that injuries kept him out of 8 of the team's 16 games. It's hard to fully evaluate Ward with the lack of talent he is currently playing with this season, but I expect him to continue to show his hard-hitting ability moving forward. The big miss here was Rob Gronkowski, taken four picks after Ward by the Pats. A tight end upgrade over Ben Watson would have been nice, but safety was an area of need and I don't fault the miss very much. B-

This sight sums up the 59th pick in 2010.
RB Montario Hardesty at #59 overall. I'll tell you right now, this one's gonna get a failing grade. Injured his whole career (10 out of a possible 35 games played) and worthless when he has been out there (career 3.0 ypc, 0 TDs, numerous dropped passes), Hardesty has not worked out to say the least. The parts of this selection that baffle me the most are that he was a one-year wonder at Tennessee and had health issues coming out of the draft. To add insult to injury, Heckert traded up to get him!! This pick should not have been made. Golden Tate (taken immediately after Hardesty by Seattle, made famous by last night's MNF game) should have been the pick. F

QB Colt McCoy at #85. I hated this pick at the time and have warmed slightly to it since. I'm not sure if this was Heckert's call or Holmgren's, but whoever it was swung and missed. Colt never had a smidgeon franchise QB in him (closer to Charlie Frye than Matthew Stafford), yet a team in desperate need of a QB reached for one who was never even given a full chance to succeed. Now he is a 3rd round backup at a position that only plays one man at a time. After passing three different times on a receiver, Eric Decker was on the board but Heckert passed him up. Apparently Massaquoi, Robiskie, Stuckey and Cribbs were enough to satisfy that position. D+

OG Shaun Lauvao at #89. This selection illed a position of need at the time but Lauvao has turned out to be an average pass-blocking guard and a poor run-blocking one. He hasn't developed much in 2+ years and isn't looking like a long-term starter. Jimmy Graham or Aaron Hernandez would have worked out well, but I don't blame any GM for missing on these two draft sleepers. Not a terrible 3rd rounder, but you need starters in the first three. C

SS Larry Asante at #160. Asante was put on the Browns practice squad out of training camp and logged two games at the end of his rookie season as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a pick of Drew Brees. Out of the NFL two years later. Also, we had just drafted Ward. Not good. This pick isn't weighted as high as Hardesty (2nd rounder vs. 5th), but a fail is a fail. If OT Marshall Newhouse was good enough to protect Aaron Rodgers' blindside during the Pack's 15-1 season, he would have been better than Tony Pashos at RT. F

WR Carlton Mitchell at #177. I liked this pick a lot at the time. Carlton had size and upside but never developed to be a complete NFL WR. He caught 3 balls for 31 yards for his career and is now out of football. ILB Arthur Moats would have been a great depth and special teams player. I at least give him a small bump for making the team 2 years. D-

DE Clifton Geathers at #186. Who? Geathers has been on four NFL teams in 3 years and has never recorded a stat. This was another major whiff. If draft picks don't make a squad that goes on to be 5-11, they weren't good picks. In typical Browns fashion, the Steelers outsmarted us with Jonathan Dwyer and Antonio Brown. Sigh... F

Final Rating: I'm not going to punish Heckert totally for what happened in retrospect, that would be unfair. The only pick that probably shouldn't have happened at the time was Hardesty over Tate (2 TDs in 3 games this season). We also could have done without another safety in Asante and gotten some OL or DL depth. I credit Heckert on the Haden selection and the Ward selection and give him a passing grade on Lauvao, who would be a good 3rd/4th OG for us. I also spare him somewhat on the McCoy pick since I believe Holmgren was the deciding voice behind it. Hardesty was a major bust, however and you can't afford that in the first two rounds. He also got a big fat NOTHING from rounds 4-7. Nothing. Asante and Geathers never stepped on the field for us and Carlton Mitchell caught three passes. Overall, picking up the two solid DBs is the only thing saving this draft from a big fat D-. Instead, I'll give it a C-

There was no reason to keep Mangini.
Holmgren's first major personnel decision was keeping head coach Eric Mangini for what turned out to be one, lame duck year. This decision probably set the Browns back at least a year in franchise development. The players put up a 5-11 record under a lame duck coach. It was another wasted year in the 3-4 defense and basic pro-style offense when I believe Holmgren's plan all along was to go back to a 4-3 and West Coast Offense. I don't think even a playoff appearance could have saved Mangini's job, Holmgren was basically taking a mulligan on the crop of available coaches in 2010 and waiting a year to pick "his guy" who ran "his system" (more on this alleged guy in future posts). This never appeared to be a good move, a contract extension for Mangini or firing him outright would have each been better options. At least we got two exciting wins over the Pats and Saints out of Mangini's last hurrah. Grade: D-

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