Redskins' Coach Watch: Mike Holmgren Is Not Our Guy

Field Gulls advise to stay away from Holmgren. Image via blogs.suntimes.com

With Jim Zorn's fate sealed, the Redskins have already begun the hunt for a new head coach (and possibly GM). Since the Redskins front office has proven they have little skill or patience in selecting a leader not named Joe Gibbs, I've taken on the task to educate myself and anyone that cares about the strengths and weaknesses of the available candidates. We'll cover 3 main topics:

1.) Coach's reason for leaving their previous team
2.) Coach's relationship with the players
3.) Coach's ability to evaluate talent

First up is Mike Holmgren, and I'd like to thank John from the extremely popular and well versed SB Nation site, Field Gulls, for answering my Holmgren/Seahawks' related questions. In my final question, John gives a compelling argument of why the Redskins should stay away from Holmgren.

Hogs Haven: What were Holmgren's reasons for leaving? Seemed like he just wanted to retire, but he hasn't even been out of the NFL one year now he wants to coach again, preferably "an East coast team" as he said. Seems a little bizarre.

This is a somewhat controversial subject. Mike Holmgren announced he would retire after the 2008 season in January of 2008. Shortly thereafter, Tim Ruskell and Tod Leiweke announced that Jim Lawrence Mora would be the next coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Speculation is that Holmgren did not like that. Murmurs were that Holmgren wanted to return, but when asked Holmgren recited his stock "I promised Kathy I would take a year off and that's what I plan to do." Holmgren still hungers for football. He hated the way he went out both as a GM and a head coach and believes he has something to prove.

Hogs Haven: Holmgren would most likely assume the GM role as well. How would you rate his draft skills? At a quick glance, he seems to be almost perfect for the first 2 rounds. Dating back to the 2005 draft, everyone selected in the 1st two rounds is still on the roster, and dating back to 2000, he has picked a ton of winners (Hutchinson, Alexander, Trufant, Hamlin, Tatupa). From round 3-9, things get real dicey. 

Holmgren was the GM from 1999 to 2002. He made two of the most important trades in team history: He traded a 10th overall and third round pick to Green Bay for Matt Hasselbeck, the 17th overall pick and a seventh round pick. Holmgren also traded Joey Galloway to Dallas for their 2000 and 2001 first round picks. He built the offense that led Seattle to Super Bowl XL. Holmgren had very little knack for defensive talent. His major achievement on defense was drafting Rocky Bernard, though selecting Ken Lucas in the second proved modestly successful too. Holmgren also failed at detail work. He could spot great offensive talent like Steve Hutchinson and mid-round systems players like Darrell Jackson, but his rosters lacked depth.  

Hogs Haven: A lot of people would argue Holmgren played in easy division all those years, which explained the good record, but the inability to win the big games. There were a lot of NFC playoff losses. If you were Dan Snyder, would you have any hesitations making Holmgren your GM/Head coach? 

If I were Dan Snyder I would have hesitations going to the dentist. I think Snyder wants a front for his machinations and that Holmgren is far too ambitious, proud and respected to be that.

Holmgren was perfectly respectable in the playoffs. He led the 2005 Seahawks to the Super Bowl and won Wild Card games in 2006 and 2007.

Hogs Haven: Any other thoughts I may have missed?

Sure. No team should want Mike Holmgren to be their coach or GM. There's a mystique that follows legendary figures and fans can fall into the trap of thinking that with the celebrity comes the success. Holmgren has a mind for offense and an eye for offensive talent, but many of the ways he forged his career with are outdated. He does not believe in the shotgun and very was resistant to implementing it in Seattle. He loathes trick plays and is conservative to a fault. Holmgren is loyal to a fault. He is stubborn. He decided in 2007 that announcing the team had abandoned the run was preferable to benching a clearly broken down Shaun Alexander. Mike Holmgren was a great NFL coach. His eye for and ability to develop quarterback talent is legendary. But Mike Holmgren is not still a great coach and hiring him would no more bring Washington Holmgren's offensive success than hiring Bill Cowher would make the Skins the Steelers.

Well damn. That is not a ringing endorsement.

Dan Snyder, as we all know too well, loves the big names. It gives the false illusion to season ticket holders that their investment is safe. As many people have echoed on this site, the hiring process should begin with a GM, not a coach. The Redskins have invested two years in the West Coast Offense, and my fear is that they are looking to plug a WCO coach first. 

Next up...Jon Gruden, Russ Grimm, and Mike Shanahan.

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