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The Cleveland Browns’ search for front office stability continues onward.
According to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Lerner has expressed interest in hiring the 17-year veteran coach. If Holmgren were to accept the offer, he would likely be appointed Executive Vice President of Football Operations, a role he has held in previous stops in Green Bay and Seattle.
Randy Lerner has indicated the need for a “strong, credible leader” to assist and oversee football operations, and Mike Holmgren appears to fit the bill. Holmgren’s experience and fresh perspective would prove invaluable to the Cleveland Browns, but that’s about as far as it would go.
Assuming Randy Lerner holds true to his word and retains Eric Mangini throughout the 2010 season, one has to wonder – how would a Holmgren/Mangini tandem peacefully co-exist over the duration of a full NFL season?
The outlook certainly looks grim.
During his time with the Packers and the Seahawks, Mike Holmgren served as the single authority on all things football. His role as a head coach included the title of executive vice president which essentially gave him complete control of the organization’s football operations.
If Holmgren agreed to a job in Cleveland, he would be asked to work closely with Eric Mangini. Mangini's absolute control over the Browns was publicized in the controversial firing of George Kokinis - the executive Mangini handpicked eight months earlier. Several sources indicated Kokinis and Mangini did not see eye-to-eye on football decisions, a rift which cost the general manager his job.
Mike Holmgren and Eric Mangini have no experience coaching together at any level of football, so it is unlikely the pair would be able to function cohesively on the same staff.
So where could the Browns go from there?
One candidate Randy Lerner may eventually reach out to is former Browns head coach Marty Schottenheimer.
Newly appointed consultant Bernie Kosar has played under Schottenheimer in the past, and would likely provide Lerner with a ringing endorsement of his former head coach. Schottenheimer’s ties to the Lerner family and experience with the organization would make his transition into the Browns front office relatively seamless.
More important than anything else, Marty Schottenheimer and Eric Mangini have a working relationship. Marty has worked in professional football as a coach and a player for more than 35 years.
He made his coaching debut when Mangini was three years old.
Eric Mangini has confided in Marty Schottenheimer in the past, and seems to genuinely respect the 66-year-old former head coach.
“I know Marty pretty well and I like Marty a lot,” Mangini said.
“I talked to him a lot when I was in New York with Brian (Schottenheimer). I feel very good about our relationship and I feel very comfortable with it.”
Marty Schottenheimer’s experience would complement Eric Mangini’s youth and fervor, giving the Browns the unified management tandem they have lacked since their return to the NFL in 1999.
Randy Lerner will likely interview experienced candidates such as Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, and Rich McKay in his search for the next executive VP of football operations.
If Lerner intends on going forward with Eric Mangini as the head coach, Marty Schottenheimer seems like the most logical option to oversee future football operations.