Generally, Mike Holmgren appears to be fairly well regarded throughout NFL circles, at least in terms of his body of work. He finished 161-111 as a head coach during the regular season, coached teams to three Super Bowl appearances, won one of them and has a fairly impressive tree of coaches who got a start as assistants under him.
Heath Evans is here to tell you to hold the phone. The former NFL fullback, who played under Holmgren in Seattle and now works for the NFL Network, tells tales of his dysfunctional time with the Seahawks and how Holmgren was the reason they left Super Bowls out on the field. Evans also says Holmgren is not the answer in Cleveland. Heath Evans joined 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland with Bull and Fox to discuss the state of the Cleveland Browns, the potential to get Robert Griffin III, why Mike Holmgren isn’t the right fit in Cleveland, what he experienced in playing for Holmgren and the Peyton Hillis situation.
On the state of Cleveland Browns football:
“When I think about Cleveland Brown football right now, and everybody loves to bash Colt McCoy. Listen, I’ve been around some great quarterbacks. Can Colt McCoy ever be Tom Brady or Drew Brees? I don’t know. I do know this, the kid’s a great leader. … I played four years in Mike Holmgren’s offense. It’s not about Colt McCoy’s lack of arm strength, it’s about the play-calling and really how that offense is set up. His version of the West Coast Offense hasn’t changed since the 49er days. … They’ve got to widen that offense more where you have shots downfield.”
If Robert Griffin III is there for the taking, should they go after him?:
“From knowing Mike Holmgren the way I know him, I’m not sure if Mike would even want a Robert Griffin. I don’t know if he wants that type of quarterback. … Chad Brown and I were talking on Twitter the other day just about the inconsistency that Mike Holmgren coached with out in Seattle for the four years I was there. … Those were the most talented football teams I was ever on, hands down, period, the end. Way more than New England, even moreso than the teams in New Orleans, and we never found a way to get it done because of inconsistency from the top down. I’m not sure Mike Holmgren’s the guy to actually turn this thing around in Cleveland.”
You don’t think he’s the right guy for the job in Cleveland?:
“I’m not sure he is. I’m telling you, my days, Bill Belichick was such a breath of fresh air for me. Mike Holmgren tries to squeeze everybody into that system. Well, I’ve got news for you, the West Coast system is not a world-beater anymore. … Now, if you’ve got good [defensive coordinators] and disciplined football players on the defensive side of the ball, it’s not beating anybody. … There is no one system that beats every defense you play. Ultimately, we were a gameplan team in New England. They still are. That is why the majority of the time, they come out on the winning side of the ball. In New Orleans, yes, it is a West Coast scheme, but every single week we play designed with Sean Payton’s genius mind and Drew Brees’ comfortability factor and that’s why they destroy teams. You can’t say, ‘This is our system and we’re running it week-in and week-out no matter what.’”
On his experience with Holmgren in Seattle:
“For four years, I sat on the bench because I couldn’t be the demonstrative lead blocker that Mack Strong was. Athletically, as soon as I got to New England, Bill Belichick was like, ‘Hey, listen, we don’t want you running anybody over. Just don’t miss blocks and we’re going to throw you the ball, we’re going to let you run, we’re going to put you on special teams.’ I spent four great years there making a lot of plays in huge games.”
What are your thoughts on the situation with Peyton Hillis?:
“I just hear a lot of mixed emotions coming out of there about players that were unhappy with his position. And listen, players don’t get upset about other players trying to get paid. We all know you can get cut at any time. … Ultimately, from multiple sources, even coaches, you talk about guys questioning whether or not he could’ve played. And even just so many things that have stirred up my thought process. Hamstrings are funny deals. This guy gets right back on the field and ends up having big games. Most of the time, hamstrings don’t act that way. … Can I comment with facts? No, I can’t, but there’s definitely been a lot that’s come out of that locker room that has raised my ear.”
Do you think Mike Holmgren is taking the money and cruising to the finish line?:
“I don’t think so. He’s too competitive for that. I do think that coaches, GMs, they get kind of stuck in their ways. And rightfully so. He’s won a Super Bowl; he’s been to another Super Bowl. … This game of football has changed.”