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Holmgren says new GM Tom Heckert will have final say on roster


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Browns boss Mike Holmgren says new GM Tom Heckert will have final say on roster, while coach Eric Mangini isn't on 'one-year trial'

By Tony Grossi

January 12, 2010, 2:08AM


BEREA, Ohio -- In the new Browns organization, coach Eric Mangini has less authority on selecting players, but he will maintain control over his coaching staff and not be on a one-year trial, President Mike Holmgren said Monday.


The comments came after Holmgren introduced Tom Heckert, formerly of Philadelphia, as general manager, and Bryan Wiedmeier as executive vice president of business operations. Wiedmeier had been with the Miami Dolphins for 29 years, including three as team president.


Heckert will have authority over the draft and the makeup of the 53-man roster, Holmgren said.


Former General Manager George Kokinis had similar language in his contract, but was fired on Nov. 2. Kokinis claims in a $4 million arbitration against the club that he was fraudulently hired by being promised responsibilities the Browns had no intention of keeping.


But in his first spoken comments since announcing Mangini would return as coach, Holmgren expressed sympathy for Mangini having to do too much in his first season.


"I think he was thrust in a position where he had to accept a lot more responsibility than was fair ... through no fault of his own," Holmgren said.


Holmgren said Heckert and Wiedmeier will be among "three or four" positions that will report directly to him "and then have a lot of responsibility throughout the organization."


Holmgren would not say if Mangini reports under Heckert in his organization chart. Mangini reported directly to owner Randy Lerner last season.




Joshua Gunter / The Plain Dealer“We’re looking at it as a partnership,” Mike Holmgren of the Browns' new regime with GM Tom Heckert and coach Eric Mangini. “I’m there to break the ties. If we do this right, while we might disagree, at the end of the day when we pick a player or make a decision on a cut, it’s for the Cleveland Browns.""We're looking at it as a partnership," Holmgren said. "I'm there to break the ties. If we do this right, while we might disagree, at the end of the day when we pick a player or make a decision on a cut, it's for the Cleveland Browns. We will all do it as a group together."

The Browns were 5-11 after winning their last four games in Mangini's first season. His contract has three more years remaining, but the announcement on Thursday that Mangini would be retained specifically stated "in 2010."


Holmgren said that the wording was not intended to put Mangini on a short leash. He said if he felt that way he would been better off "clearing the decks and starting over again."


"He's not on a one-year trial," Holmgren said. "I will say this: My expectations for the football team are at a certain level. They know that. This business can be harsh at times. So I expect us to improve, as do they. Please don't infer I was saying this is a one-year shot. Everyone's accountable for the job they do, and we'll see what happens."


Holmgren said Mangini is reviewing his coaching staff and would not rule out "a couple changes down the road, but not yet."


Holmgren said in his meetings with Mangini he was impressed with the coach's candidness, his ability to listen and his resolve to be a "team player."


"Getting to know Eric allowed me to at least feel as though we have the guy in place already," Holmgren said.


"As we continued to talk, two or three things were important. Initially being a coach myself, I think having a coach in place for one year and telling him he no longer has a job is basically unfair. That's one thing. Two, the team got better as the season went along. It was rough in the beginning, kind of tough in the middle but they finished strong. That says something about how he kept the guys together and his coaches continued to work. So that was a plus.


"Three, I liked him. I think he was very candid, honest. He also listened. Lastly, he's a defensive coach and in this particular division you need to play really good defense when the weather gets bad. He showed a willingness to work as a team player."


Holmgren said he hopes he can mentor Mangini and with less weight on Mangini's shoulders, "I thought I had the right guy."


Heckert will have more authority with the Browns than he did with the Eagles. In Philadelphia, coach Andy Reid made the final call and Howie Roseman gradually gained influence. Roseman was named Eagles GM on Monday.


"Andy thought the world of Tom," Holmgren said. "I think they worked hand in hand, but clearly Tom set up the [draft] board, ran the personnel side of that. As you approach the draft you funnel down those meetings from assistant coaches, scout and everybody down to the decision-makers and I think that's what happened in Philadelphia and that's what will happen here. Tom had a lot to do with the success they had in Philadelphia."


Holmgren praised Heckert's experience, success, work ethic and his personality as "a great team player."


Heckert had various roles in the Eagles' personnel department starting in 2001. He was the team's GM since 2006.


Heckert, who will be introduced with Wiedmeier in Berea on Tuesday, said in a statement, "Working alongside some of the most experienced and successful people in this business in Mike, Eric Mangini and Bryan, I believe we have the foundation in place to re-establish the Browns as one of the top franchises in the NFL."


Heckert, whose father was a Browns scout, started his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins as a pro and college scout. He was with them for 10 years and was director of pro personnel at the end.


Holmgren said Heckert will determine the makeup of the scouting staff and would review other positions, such as pro personnel director and college scouting director.


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I really like how he puts so much emphasis on "team player". As anyone who has ever had a job knows, everything starts from the top and works down. Enviroment, attitude, and eventual success depends on what comes from the top. It looks like this team will be put together correctly for once. And its good to hear that Heckert was putting the draft board together in Philly. If they have shown us anything there its that they can draft skill positions with the best of them. Mangini has an eye for the hogs and DBs and now with Heckert and Holmgren invloved, we will have credible eyes looking at QBs, RBs, and WRs. This is the first time I have ever had complete faith in any personel decisions this team makes. I take that back, I thought the draft with Thomas and Quinn was pretty sweet at the time. What I didn't know then was that we lost many future picks, screwed up the cap, and drafted a QB with zero NFL tools. But now, I am confident that every choice will be the right one. And that feels very good.

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I like the kind of language I am hearing from Holmgren. He's the kind of Boss I'd want.


Realistic - Mangini had one year and had unexpected extended responsibility, worked hard through the dark times and ended strong - deserves to carry on as coach.


Driven - has already set a standard for achievement for 2010 to the players and organisation and has let Eric know that if he produces he stays with full backing but that he is not going to be having to look over his shoulder quarter by quarter from opening day.


Experienced - as a HC but not sounding like he will be confusing this with his main job, but knows what to expect and should get better player respect as a result.


Heckert, to me, has the biggest job to get right - I'd appreciate your views on his ability and predicted approach.







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I like the kind of language I am hearing from Holmgren. He's the kind of Boss I'd want.




I couldn't agree more with that statement. He is putting the pieces in place and setting the expectation that all of them perform well. That is how any effective business works. Hire talented individuals and let them get to work without handcuffing them. Be accepting of new ideas and be willing to hear everybody's opinion. This is so refreshing and I cannot believe that I am hearing it from the Cleveland Browns.


The only question I keep asking is how much money will tickets, beer, and food cost next year as a result of all of these new hirings? I guess it doesn't matter as long as we win, but still I wonder.

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Mike Florio reported this same thing the other night, though he had a choice sentence to add to the end of it.


We've also got a feeling that, even if Heckert and Mangini disagree with Holmgren, the decision made at the end of the day will be the decision that Holmgren wants.


It's hilarious that even after he was proven wrong on Mangini going, he is still doing everything he can to get that little snide remark in.

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