AFC North: Jon Gruden

Before this year's NFL draft, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said the Cleveland Browns didn't have to take another quarterback. As the regular season is about to begin, Gruden continues to believe Brandon Weeden can become a legitimate starting quarterback.

Weeden
“I think they have to try to build around Weeden, maybe improving the receiving corps, let him work himself through this new offense," Gruden said in a conference call with reporters. "I'm confident he’s going to be a good pro quarterback. But if it doesn't work out, coaches and quarterbacks don’t last long. I know that.”

Weeden was the No. 22 overall pick in last year's draft. But he was selected by the Browns' old regime, not the new one of CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi.

Does Gruden think it's a make-or-break season for Weeden?

“Well, that’s a tough one there. I don't know what direction Cleveland would go," Gruden said. "It’s easy to say it’s make or break, but who are you going with next year? I mean, they’ve changed quarterbacks more than any team in NFL history in the last 20 years since they've been back in Cleveland. What’s the alternative?"

Weeden finished the preseason with a 99.9 passer rating, which ranked 10th among projected starters. He started off the preseason strong, completing 18 of 25 passes (72 percent) in his first two preseason games for 229 yards and three touchdowns. In his third preseason game, he was 12-of-25 for 105 yards and nearly had two passes picked off.

What impresses Gruden the most is Weeden's strong arm and his ability to throw in tight windows. But he believes Weeden is limited in his current situation.

"I think he’s on a football team that doesn’t have tremendous skill around him," Gruden said. "I don’t think that his wide receiving corps is a polished group yet."

Weeden does have one advantage this year, according to Gruden. That's working with Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator.

"You’d be lucky to have him running your offense if you ask me, because he’s gotten it done wherever he’s been," Gruden said. "He’s developed quarterbacks, and he just has a very good temperament, a vast amount of knowledge, creativity, and I think he has guts to call plays in certain situations on game day that most people don’t."

Gruden QB camp: Ryan Tannehill

April, 19, 2012
4/19/12
1:12
PM ET


Leading up to the NFL draft, no player has caused more of a heated debate in the AFC North blog than Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Some draft analysts, like ESPN's Todd McShay, believe the Cleveland Browns should consider taking Tannehill with the fourth overall pick because he has the potential to be a franchise quarterback. Others, like ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., say Tannehill is overrated after making only 19 starts in college.

Here's another glimpse of Tannehill at Jon Gruden's quarterback camp. He talks about why he wanted to convert from wide receiver to quarterback in college and explains his progression reads in detail.

"Bottom line, when you look at the concepts of passes that you ran at A&M, you're going to be ready for a lot of NFL minicamps and training camps tonight," an impressed Gruden said.
At least four teams have called the Cleveland Browns about the fourth overall pick in the upcoming draft, sources told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

One of the teams believed to be in the mix is the St. Louis Rams. That would mean dropping to No. 6. Just say no. Why? The Browns can say goodbye to an elite offensive playmaker in running back Trent Richardson if they trade down. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would immediately grab Richardson at No. 5.

Another potential trade partner is the Philadelphia Eagles. This would require the Browns to fall to No. 15. Cleveland really has to say no to this one. Why? It's a pipe dream to think wide receiver Michael Floyd is going to be available at this spot. He's going to get drafted by Buffalo (No. 10) or Arizona (No. 13).

The top offensive prospects who should be on the board in the middle of the first round are guard David DeCastro and wide receiver Kendall Wright. Two additional second-round picks are not worth this dropoff. Plus, general manager Tom Heckert indicated 17 days ago that the Browns would consider falling back as far as No. 8. The Eagles' spot is out of that range.

As I mentioned earlier this week, the Browns shouldn't trade back. They need playmakers, not picks. Their draft should be based on quality, not quantity.

Still, there's a good chance that the Browns will trade back. Heckert's track record shows he likes to acquire extra picks. And, as ESPN Insider Bill Polian pointed out, Mike Holmgren's teams often find their running backs later in the draft or through free agency.

But Richardson is one of those special types of backs. He has the toughness to excel in a division like the AFC North and he has the potential to immediately affect an offense like Adrian Peterson did.

If Holmgren doesn't believe me, he should consult with his good friend and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden before thinking of trading back.

“The easiest thing to do is turn around and hand the ball to somebody 300 times a year,” Gruden said in a conference call. “Everybody says, ‘Don’t take a running back. You can get those guys in the fifth, sixth or seventh round.' You go try to find Trent Richardson in the fifth, sixth or seventh round."

Gruden added, “He’s a beast. He broke all of Emmitt Smith’s high school rushing records in Florida. I’ve seen him run over people, run around people, he protects the ball, he can catch it, can pick up blitzes. He might be the strongest human being on the planet."

Just because teams are interested in the No. 4 pick doesn't mean the Browns should be interested in giving it up. Just say no.
For those who watched Jon Gruden's QB Camp with Brandon Weeden, you got a glimpse of some of the good and bad with the Oklahoma State quarterback. This is some good pre-draft research for Browns fans because Weeden has been linked to Cleveland in the second round.

[+] EnlargeWeeden
Richard Rowe/US PresswireOklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden could be a second-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.
When it came to film review, Gruden began with a play that he called "one of his favorite ones of the week." Against Arizona, Weeden made the decision to audible, understood where the unblocked defender was coming and stood in the pocket to make the throw just before taking the hit. It was a great example of intelligence and guts.

The tape turned ugly when Gruden put up a play against Texas where Weeden stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety before throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Luckily for Weeden, the score didn't count because it was a safety. Unlucky for Weeden, Gruden didn't hold back on his criticism.

“This is going on a reel forever, because this is the worst football play I have ever seen in my life,” Gruden said. “It’s a pick-six, backed up, and a safety on the same play. It’s a double-whammy, man. It’s going to the Hall of Shame right here.”

There were several funny moments in this episode from Gruden mocking Weeden's head nod signals during games to giving him nicknames like "Weedster" and "WeedEater." If you watch the intro to the show, you can see Gruden even writes "WeedEater" on the tape.

Overall, you had to like what you saw from Weeden in the show. He seemed smart and confident. Weeden also took Gruden's ribbing in stride. He explained the transition in going from a no-huddle offense in college, his decision to return to football after a minor-league baseball career and the concern regarding his age. Weeden will turn 29 during the season.

"That was one of the nice things about being a little bit older — I’m not a hush-mouth guy," Weeden told Gruden. "If I feel something, I’m going to let you know about it."

This was the best one in Gruden's QB camp series this season, which is saying a lot. It will be repeated April 18 on ESPNU (8:30 p.m.), April 23 on ESPN Classic (9:30 a.m.) and April 25 on ESPNEWS (9:30 a.m.).
The NFL Network is reporting that Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is "the favorite" to become the Jaguars' new head coach, but the Florida Times-Union says the Jaguars aren't known to have requested an interview with him.

Gruden is one of the hottest coordinators in the NFL these days after his success with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. Perhaps the Jaguars think he could do the same with quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who struggled mightily in his first season.

Gruden's ties to the Florida area are strong. He spent seven seasons on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff under his brother Jon, who was the head coach. Jay Gruden also served as head coach of the Arena League's Orlando team and UFL's Florida franchise before joining Cincinnati this season.

The Jaguars reportedly have requested permission to speak to five offensive coordinators: the Jets’ Brian Schottenheimer, the Patriots’ Bill O’Brien, the Broncos’ Mike McCoy, the Panthers’ Rob Chudzinski and the Falcons’ Mike Mularkey.

Bengals Q&A with Andy Dalton

August, 9, 2011
8/09/11
12:30
PM ET
GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- Carson Palmer is out and Andy Dalton is in with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Dalton era will begin Friday when the rookie quarterback makes his NFL debut against the Detroit Lions.

The AFC North blog caught up with Dalton following Monday night's practice to discuss a variety of topics. The former TCU star talked about, among other things, replacing Palmer and starting a new rivalry with Cleveland Browns quarterback, and fellow Texas native, Colt McCoy.

Andy, what's it like to be first on the depth chart as a rookie heading into the preseason opener?

[+] EnlargeAndy Dalton
Frank Victores/US PresswireRookie quarterback Andy Dalton and new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden will take the reigns in Cincinnati this fall.
Dalton: It's a good opportunity for me. I knew once I got drafted here there was going to be an opportunity. I feel I've come out and worked hard and tried to get better each day. That's all I can do right now.

I watched the quarterback camp on ESPN with Jon Gruden, and he loved you. His brother, Jay Gruden, really pushed for you in the draft. How would you describe your rapport with the Gruden family?

Dalton: I was just trying to be myself in [Jon Gruden’s camp]. I wasn't trying to be anybody else. I just showed my personality a bit and we just kind of clicked. I think hitting it off with Jon helped me out here, because I knew Jay was going to be here. I’m sure they talked back and forth a little bit about me. But their style of offense and style of play is what I've been used to.

If Jon Gruden calls that cornerback blitz, as promised, will you be ready?

Dalton: (laughs) Yeah, he definitely gave that one away. I'll be ready for it if he's ever coaching again.

Outside expectations aren't very high for the Bengals in 2011. What's your message to naysayers?

Dalton: We’re out to prove everybody wrong. I think everybody has a negative view of the Bengals, but we're kind of a new squad here. We've got a lot of young guys and a lot of guys who are eager to get out and play well. I think having that attitude and a new offense is really going to be good for the players we have here. Everybody is excited about the season, and we should be ready to go.

What are your thoughts on Carson Palmer's situation and taking over a seat he left behind?

Dalton: I haven’t worried about it. Carson left for his own reasoning. But it left an opportunity for a job to be open here. Carson is Carson. I'm not trying to be Carson. I'm trying to be me. I'm trying to bring my style of play to the Bengals organization. Hopefully, I help this team win a lot of ballgames.

You’ve been praised for your natural leadership ability. Where does that come from?

Dalton: I’ve had great parents and great family around me, so I was raised well. And the football programs I’ve been a part of -- my high school team and at TCU -- leadership has been a big thing. Playing quarterback you're automatically put in a leadership position. It's something that you have to get used to and embrace. Every team is different. Every team needs a different style of leadership.

What's your scouting report on Bengals receivers A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson?

Dalton: They're two explosive players. You don’t always have to put the ball in the right spot and they will go make the play. They have a lot of talent. It’s going to be a lot of fun to be throwing to them for a while.

I’m not sure you know this, but three starting quarterbacks in the AFC North (Dalton, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger) got married this offseason. Coincidence?

Dalton: (laughs) I don't know. I guess we all found "The One." It's a random thought, I guess.

You and Colt McCoy are two Texas natives and are now drafted to rival Ohio teams. How do you envision this rivalry?

Dalton: I know him just a little bit. He seems like a really good guy and it's going to be fun to play against him. I played against Colt once in college. So it’s going to be fun to go against him twice a year, hopefully for a while.
Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC North: Morning take: This is cunning for the NFL to promote a sibling rivalry on Thanksgiving. Both brothers are fiery and competitive. So don't expect either to hold back in this one.
  • Continuing the brother angle, Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback Jordan Palmer, not Carson Palmer, is rallying the team to workout together in the offseason.
Morning take: Credit Jordan Palmer for taking a leadership role, but he likely won't be the Week 1 starter in Cincinnati. The Bengals are looking for Carson Palmer's replacement in the draft or free agency.
  • Former NFL coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden talks up Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.
Morning take: Browns president Mike Holmgren and Gruden, two West Coast proponents, both like McCoy's potential in the offense. This will be a big second season for McCoy to show what he can do.
  • Will the Pittsburgh Steelers be more interested in Miami corner Brandon Harris and Colorado corner Jimmy Smith?
Morning take: Smith is the good prospect. But he comes with character concerns, which likely could scare off the Steelers for a safer draft pick.

Video: Gruden QB camp - Newton sequel

April, 17, 2011
4/17/11
2:00
PM ET

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton goes to camp with former NFL head coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden. Newton discusses play terminology, what motivates him and also makes a few throws with Gruden watching. Newton is a potential target of the Cincinnati Bengals, who hold the No. 4 overall pick.

Video: Gruden's QB camp - Cam Newton

April, 9, 2011
4/09/11
3:18
PM ET
video
Jon Gruden discusses life in the NFL with one of the draft's top quarterback prospects.

Season of coaching change in AFC North

February, 24, 2011
2/24/11
3:48
PM ET
 Pat Shurmur and Jay Gruden AP PhotoPat Shurmur, left, and Jay Gruden are two of the new faces in the AFC North.
The offseason has just begun, but the coaching carousel has been spinning for all four teams in the AFC North.

Often the struggling teams make significant coaching changes, and that was the case with the Cincinnati Bengals (4-12) and Cleveland Browns (5-11). But playoff teams like the Baltimore Ravens (12-4) and even the Super Bowl runner-up Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) also experienced some turnover on their staff.

Here is a look at each change and what it means for the division:

Cleveland Browns

In: Head coach Pat Shurmur, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron and a new staff.

Out: Former head coach Eric Mangini, former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

What happened? Mangini entered this past season on the hot seat and went 5-11 for the second consecutive year. There were a lot of philosophical differences between Mangini and Browns president Mike Holmgren. So when the team wasn't winning, it made for an easy decision to go in a different direction. Enter Shurmur, who was a surprise hire for Cleveland. Shurmur has no prior head-coaching experience and wasn't on the radar of other teams. The Browns have pretty much cleaned house and hired a new staff, which includes Jauron and veteran defensive assistant Ray Rhodes.

Analysis: Last year, Holmgren was dumbfounded by some of the things the Browns were doing, particularly on offense. But Holmgren and Shurmur share many of the same views, which will give Holmgren more say in what goes on, and I think being on the same page is important for any team. The Browns are one of the few teams this year that will change both their offense and defense. Cleveland will go to a West Coast offense under Shurmur, who did not hire an offensive coordinator and will call the plays. The Browns also will switch to a 4-3 defense, which is something they haven't run since 2004. Shurmur is taking on a lot of responsibility as a rookie head coach and de facto offensive coordinator, which raises some concerns. Cleveland hopes veteran coaches like Jauron and Rhodes will take care of the defense, giving Shurmur one less thing to worry about. In terms of personnel, the Browns have a lot of work to do. They need better receivers on offense if they plan to pass more and playmakers at defensive end to run a 4-3 scheme.

Cincinnati Bengals

In: Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, receivers coach James Urban.

Out: Former offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, former receivers coach Mike Sheppard.

What happened? Changes were inevitable for Cincinnati's coaching staff this season. There was a lot of unrest among players internally who didn't like the scheme on offense. The Bengals entered the season with playoff aspirations but had an abysmal four-win campaign. Quarterback Carson Palmer was so unhappy that he demanded a trade after the season. Receivers Terrell Owens publicly criticized the coaching staff several times and starting tailback Cedric Benson said he was not returning if Bratkowski was still the offensive coordinator. Bratkowski was let go and later hired by the Atlanta Falcons, and Sheppard went to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gruden, a former UFL head coach and the brother of former NFL coach Jon Gruden, was hired as offensive coordinator, and Urban was hired as receivers coach from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Analysis: Cincinnati will be the second team in the division implementing a West Coast offense. Gruden also says he wants to make sure Cincinnati has a power running game, which is needed in this division. When the Bengals were at their best in 2009, they ran the football effectively and played tough defense. Cincinnati went away from that last year and had an awful season. How Gruden's offense translates from the UFL to the NFL remains to be seen. Cincinnati also has to handle a lot of personnel issues. Will Palmer retire? If so, who will be the new quarterback? Should the team trade Chad Ochocinco? Will Benson return? Cincinnati will have a very busy offseason trying to figure out these questions before putting together its new offense.

(Read full post)

Morning take: Ike Taylor ready?

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
8:00
AM ET
Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC North:
  • Pittsburgh Steelers No. 1 cornerback Ike Taylor will have a big responsibility covering Green Bay Packers receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver in Super Bowl XLV.
Morning take: Taylor has had another solid season and will be a free agent after the season. A big Super Bowl will go a long way in increasing his chances of returning to Pittsburgh.
  • Speaking of free agency, the Baltimore Ravens could be in search of a new fullback.
Morning take: Le'Ron McClain may go elsewhere to get more carries next season. Fortunately for the Ravens, there is a deep class of fullbacks available in the draft.
Morning take: The Bengals have a lot of problems. But it appears they are at least making an effort to get some things rectified for next season.
  • Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy expects to be the starter in his second season.
Morning take: The Browns have made every indication that's the case. McCoy showed some nice things as a rookie and must build on that with a solid offseason.

Thought of the Day finale: Pat Shurmur

January, 13, 2011
1/13/11
11:45
AM ET
The Cleveland Browns are reportedly working out a deal to hire St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as their fifth head coach since 1999. In our latest "Thought of the Day" in the AFC North, we surveyed the Dawgpound to get the pulse on the potential hire.

Here are a sample of responses this week from our AFC North inbox:

Brent from Great Mills, Md., writes: I feel fine about them hiring Shurmur. I've looked at all the teams he's coached and there's a connection to GM Tom Heckert. I would have preferred promoting Rob Ryan and I hope he stays on as defensive coordinator. I just want my Brownies to score and win games, period.

Eddie Kilroy from Brunswick, Ohio, writes: Why would a losing team go to another losing team for a coach? I'm not doubting Pat Shurmar's ability to be a good coordinator, but I don't think that it's the right move to make him a head coach. Cleveland is a town that wants winners. We want a coach that is hot now and can apply that to the Browns, not a coach that look fantastic because their star player makes them look good.

Matthew Yoder from Newark, Del., writes: Being a Browns fan I'm intrigued by Pat Shurmur. He did a great job with Sam Bradford this year and I believe he could be just as good for Colt McCoy. Granted, Shurmur has ZERO head-coaching experience, and to a certain extent I agree with your point about the lack of success of past hires with no head-coaching experience. But, I believe that Cleveland is in similar position to Pittsburgh and Baltimore when they hired Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh, respectively. I believe the Browns’ front office is finally not in disarray and there are competent people in place to support an inexperienced head coach.

Taylor Klein from Elizabethtown, Ky., writes: Shurmur to the Browns would not be the answer that the fan base wants. If you're going to fire a coach who had the team going before injuries killed them after only two years, you better hit a homerun. This would be the equivalent of trading away Josh Hamilton and bringing in a guy straight from AAA and then sticking him in to bat against Roy Halladay (Pittsburgh) and Cliff Lee (Baltimore). Luckily, the Bengals aren't really like a pitching ace.

Paul H Whitmore from Grand Blanc, Mich., writes: I am comfortable with Pat Shurmur for several reasons. One of those reasons has nothing to do with Pat Shurmur at all. In Holmgren we trust. Looking back on everything Holmgren has done to this point has left me confident that this organization is moving in a forward direction. If Holmgren wants Shurmur, I want Shurmur.

Brad from Cleveland writes: Shurmur would be a horrible decision. He has only been a coordinator for two years. The Browns need a head coach with heading-coaching experience. What will happen is he will come in, not meet expectations, and the team will be back here again in another two years. Only legit option for the Browns to win and win soon is Gruden or Holmgren needs to step out of the luxury box and put a headset back on.

Colin from Athens, Ohio, writes: I think Shurmur will be Holmgren's guy and could end up being his apprentice. With Mike guiding him he could do very well. You mentioned the last coaches without head-coaching experience haven't done well in Cleveland, well Mangini had that experience and he didn't do too well either.

Andrew from Clarion, Pa., writes: I've personally been a fan of hiring Mike Mularkey after seeing the job he's done with Matt Ryan down in Atlanta and the fact that he's been there for multiple successful years. With Pat Shurmur, I've only seen one year of successful development of a quarterback and that is this year with Sam Bradford. He's not the ideal hire, in my mind. But as a Browns fan I've put my faith in Mike Holmgren, and I'm going to trust him to make the right decision.

David from Nashville, Tenn., writes: All of Shurmur's success as an OC and developing a QB are simply signs that he is a good coordinator. The head job is totally different and he won't have time to tinker with a QB; he has to oversee the big picture. There is just no way of knowing if he will be a good HC until he has two years under his belt -- just like there was no way to know about Tomlin and Harbaugh. Holmgren's biggest responsibility now is to help Shurmur put together a competent staff and to keep drafting good players.

Michael from Lancaster, Ohio, writes: Unfortunately, there isn't a strong enough candidate that any Browns fan can be happy with. Jon Gruden would give Cleveland hope to cling to. John Fox would be candidate No. 2. But he is a defensive-minded coach and that hasn't been working in the past with Mangini or Crennel. Mularkey, Fewell, and Mornhinweg all have head-coaching experience and all have done poorly, Shurmur, at the very least, has a clean slate.

AFC North final say

James Walker: Based on the responses we received, most Browns fans are either not impressed or just fairly content with the potential hire of Shurmur. But only a select few are extremely excited and had Shurmur pegged as their first choice. Most AFC North blog readers are aware that I believe Mike Holmgren was the best option and most accomplished coach the Browns could've landed in this search. Holmgren was already in the building, so all he had to do was commit himself. But Holmgren, if anyone, should know what a good head coach looks and sounds like. Plus, Shurmur meshes well with Holmgren's offensive philosophies and has the ability to make rookie quarterback Colt McCoy better. As I mentioned before, winning is what matters in the NFL. And we will see in couple years if Shurmur has the Browns on top of the AFC North division, or if it will be more of the same dominance by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.

Morning take: No Gruden for Browns

January, 12, 2011
1/12/11
8:30
AM ET
Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC North: Morning take: Gruden doesn't seem interested in the openings that are available. The Browns need to move forward with their search, make a decision and begin implementing their new program.
Morning take: Roethlisberger is 8-2 in his career against the Ravens. Does that work in Pittsburgh's favor? Or is Baltimore due for a big win on Saturday?
Morning take: I would put Roethlisberger in my top five, but not on par with Brady. I don't think there is any question that Brady is the NFL’s MVP this season.
Morning take: The most important names are cornerback Johnathan Joseph and running back Cedric Benson. Both decisions will greatly impact the team's direction in 2011.
BEREA, Ohio -- Although Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren left the door slightly open Monday, he has ruled himself out of the team's coaching search.

Holmgren says he doesn't consider himself a candidate for Cleveland's coaching job "at the present time." That small caveat provides the freedom to have a change of heart if necessary.

[+] EnlargeCleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren
AP Photo/Tony DejakCleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren said he does not want to return to coaching.
But for now Holmgren says he's dedicated to finding a top-notch candidate to replace the recently fired Eric Mangini. Holmgren, 62, says he understands the amount of hours and commitment it takes to be a successful head coach, and Holmgren is not sure he's ready for that commitment again.

"At this stage in my life that's not what my first priority is. It really isn't," Holmgren said. "I am enjoying and relishing the role that [Browns owner] Randy Lerner in confidence has given me."

But Holmgren also was candid about the possibility of returning to coaching.

"To tell you right now that I will never coach again, here or anywhere, that probably wouldn't be honest," Holmgren said. "You know that and I know that. But as of right now I am the president of the Cleveland Browns, and my job is to find the best coach available for the job and the right coach available for the job."

Considering the pool of candidates, we believe Holmgren is the best choice. He can generate instant credibility and buzz with the Browns in ways other candidates such as Marty Mornhinweg, John Fox, etc., cannot. Coaching also is what Holmgren, who has been to three Super Bowls, does best.

Holmgren is probably the only A-list coach Cleveland (5-11) can land this year. Other top names like Jon Gruden will be a tough sell, considering more attractive vacancies are available.

Holmgren expressed concern Monday about the number of projected openings around the NFL this offseason. The best coaches all will be pursued by the same teams, and Holmgren faces a stiff challenge finding a way to push Cleveland to the top of that list.

"We're going to work very, very hard to get the right person, you can believe that," Holmgren said. "And I'm hopeful that we can. Am I positive? I can't say."

If Holmgren cannot find someone to meet his standards, it's possible he could rethink returning to the sidelines. When asked about that scenario Monday, Holmgren says it's "too premature."

Holmgren didn't provide names, but he says Cleveland's search will be wide-ranging.

This will be the most important decision Holmgren makes during his tenure in Cleveland. The stakes are raised even higher considering the next coach -- fair or unfair -- will be compared to what Holmgren may have accomplished had he coached the team.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider