Could Browns have hired Gruden if Holmgren wanted to?

Peter King mentioned a pretty interesting quote by Browns president Mike Holmgren about former head coaches Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden in his latest edition of Monday Morning Quarterback:

“Everyone is not privy to the information. I talked to [Bill] Cowher and I talked to [Jon] Gruden and they’re friends of mine. Of course Jon worked for me. There were a lot of reasons why that didn’t happen. In Bill’s case he wasn’t ready to come back and he was very honest about it and we had a very candid conversation. In Jon’s case, he said he would come back for me, but I said I needed a little more than that. You shouldn’t just come back for me, you should want to do this … He really enjoys TV and he’s good at it.”

— Cleveland president Mike Holmgren, to KJR in Seattle via, on considering Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher for his vacant head-coaching job before hiring Pat Shurmur.

Holmgren’s comments about Cowher make you wonder if the former Pittsburgh head coach will ever return to the sidelines. After the 2011 season, it will be five years since Cowher last coached. As King hits on, will Cowher ever have the hunger it takes to return to the sidelines?

I don’t have the faintness idea what it’s like to lose a beloved spouse (Cowher lost his wife Kaye to skin cancer seven months ago), but I would have to imagine that one never gets over it. Maybe Cowher will never have the desire to coach again. Maybe the timing will never be right. Or maybe he’ll be ready to return as soon as next year. Who knows?

As far as Gruden is concerned, I think it was smart of Holmgren not to try and convince Gruden to return to the sidelines if he’s not 100% ready. As Holmgren pointed out, Gruden would have returned to the sidelines if asked, but that’s not what Holmgren wants. He wants somebody that will have the passion to take over a young team in much need of leadership and direction from their head coach. If Gruden wasn’t all in, Holmgren wasn’t going to be either.

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Vikings finally fire Brad Childress

NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 09: Head coach Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings reacts late in the second half the New Orleans Saints at Louisiana Superdome on September 9, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

On the heels of a humiliating loss to their bitter rivals, the Minnesota Vikings have fired Brad Childress and named defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier interim head coach, per Adam Schefter.

I’m sure Anthony will have something more to say on the matter, but as a longtime Packer fan, I’m a little sad to see Chilly go. It has been fun to watch the Vikings’ downward spiral starting with their disappointing last-minute loss in the NFC championship game to the cluster#%&* that is this season. Childress lost the locker room a while ago, and since he’s not winning, there’s no point in keeping him around.

It’s possible that owner Zygi Wilf saw how the Cowboys suddenly became respectable once they made a head coaching change and decided to follow suit after the Packers took his team behind the woodshed on Sunday. Or maybe he just wanted to see what Frazier could do with this team for the rest of the season before potentially committing to him long term. (Though with the way the defense played — and bickered — against the Packers, the defense definitely has its issues as well.)

So let the speculation begin. Even before this news, there were already rumors that Wilf might tag Bill Parcells to come in and change the team’s culture. There are a number of other good candidates out there as well, including Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher.

And — gasp! — what if a new coach meant that Brett Favre might want to come back for another go-around!?!

Buckle your seat belts, people!

NFL Week 6 MVP, COY and ROY Power Rankings

Every week we have different candidates here, because the 2010 NFL season has been wacky. And that’s okay, as it makes ranking MVP, Coach of the Year and Rookie of the Year candidates more fun. Anyway, here we go….

MVP Power Rankings

1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts—Okay, so Philip Rivers and Kyle Orton have more yards per game, but they play for 2-4 teams. Manning’s Colts are 4-2, and check out these numbers through six games—1916 yards, 67.3 completion percentage, 319.3 yards per game, 13 touchdowns (leads NFL) and just 2 interceptions, for a QB rating of 103.4. As usual, Manning sort of defines what the term MVP is all about.

2. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers—I heard someone on NFL Network the other day call Matthews the “best defensive player in the NFL.” Not bad for a linebacker in his second year, who was selected after 25 other players in the 2009 draft. Anyway, Matthews has 9 sacks to lead the NFL, and 21 tackles through five games…and the Packers sorely missed him last Sunday in a loss to Miami when Matthews sat out with a hamstring injury.

3. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers—We’re leaving Antonio on here this week because he left the game against the Rams last Sunday with an ankle injury, leaving Philip Rivers without his favorite target. And then the Chargers lost the game. To the Rams. Gates only had 2 catches for 12 yards in that one, but on the season he still has 31 receptions for 490 yards and 7 TDs (which leads all tight ends and receivers).

Honorable mention: Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles (thanks to Kevin Kolb’s performance last Sunday, Vick got bumped off the list); LaDainian Tomlinson, New York Jets; Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos; Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos; Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers; Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants; Arian Foster, Houston Texans

Coach of the Year Power Rankings

1. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers—If you start the season without your star quarterback for four games, and have the likes of Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon, and Byron Leftwich at the helm, coming out of that 2-2 would be a huge moral victory. Well, Tomlin came out of that stretch 3-1 and it could have been 4-0 if not for that last-gasp drive by Joe Flacco and the Ravens a few weeks ago. Of course, the D led by a healthy Troy Polamalu and hard-hitting-to-a-fault James Harrison, has helped, but let’s give Tomlin some huge and well-deserved props here.

2. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams—Has anyone noticed that the Rams are 3-3, having already equaled their win total from 2008 and 2009 combined. And they’re giving up less than 19 points per game after allowing 27 per game last year—something that has much to do with the Rams’ defensive whiz of a coach.

3. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants—How do you go from the scorching hot hot seat to a coach of the year nomination? Ask Tom Coughlin, who the New York media had being replaced by Bill Cowher a few weeks ago when they lost badly to the Colts, and then beat themselves badly in a loss the Titans at home. The Giants rallied around Coughlin and squashed the previously unbeaten Bears, then crushed the upstart Texans in Houston 34-10, before not allowing the dreaded trap game against Detroit ruin his team’s winning streak. So from 1-2 to 4-2, and tied with the Eagles for the division lead. That’s why Tom Coughlin is on here.

Honorable mention: Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks; Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Bucs; Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs; Rex Ryan, New York Jets; Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles

Rookie of the Year Power Rankings

1. Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions—Suh leads all NFL defensive tackles with 5 sacks, and he also has 21 tackles through six games, plus an interception—a pretty rare feat for a DT. Is there any doubt that this young big man is the real deal?

2. Jahvid Best, Detroit Lions—Injury may have slowed Best down, but how about the fact that to go along with 249 rushing yards, Best has 31 catches for a league-high 285 receiving yards among running backs. That’s 534 all-purpose yards through six games.

3. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams—He’s way down the list of quarterbacks stat-wise, but Bradford is averaging 226 yards per game and has 7 TD passes. We’ll let the 8 picks slide for now, because let’s face it—the kid is helping to lead the Rams to respectability.

Honorable mention: Max Hall, Arizona Cardinals; Rolando McClain, Oakland Raiders; Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys; Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals

Tomlin’s contract extension good for Steelers

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 20: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers talks on his headset during the game against the Green Bay Packers on December 20, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The latest head coach to bring the Steelers a Super Bowl title just got rewarded for his efforts.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that Mike Tomlin has signed a three-year extension with the Steelers through the 2014 season. While no details outside of that have been released, he was previously one of the NFL’s lowest paid coaches at roughly $500K per year. His new deal will likely be double that amount.

While the Steelers under performed last season, there’s little doubt that Tomlin deserved an extension. In his three years in Pittsburgh, he has a 31-17 record, has won two division titles and one Super Bowl. Some like to point out that he won the title in 2008 with Bill Cowher’s players, but keep in mind that most coaches can’t win with their own handpicked players – not to mention someone else’s.

Another thing Tomlin has taken some criticism for is how the Steelers failed to make the playoffs last year despite winning the Super Bowl the season before. But keep in mind that after Cowher won in ’05, the Steelers finished 8-8 the following year. Despite finishing third in the AFC North last season, Pittsburgh still finished with a winning record (9-7) under Tomlin and has yet to have a losing season under him thus far.

The point is that it’s hard to win back-to-back titles in the NFL. The team that wins the Super Bowl automatically has a bulls-eye on its back the following year, making it difficult to repeat. They rarely have easy games because opponents gear up to beat them, so it’s a stretch to say the Steelers collapsed last year at 9-7. (Let’s not forget that free agency allows teams to rebuild quickly in the NFL.)

The extension for Tomlin is a great thing for the Steelers. Most teams don’t keep the same head coach for over three years, but Pittsburgh is one of the few organizations that has managed to find consistency at the position. That’s just one of the many reasons they’ve managed to win so many division titles over the years.

Plaxico Burress vows to return to NFL

In an interview with former Steelers coach Bill Cowher that will air Sunday on CBS, imprisoned receiver Plaxico Burress vowed to return to the NFL. He also apologized to the Giants for tarnishing their organization.


“I will play again,” Burress said in the interview with his former Steelers coach, Bill Cowher, scheduled to air on CBS’ “NFL Today.”

Burress said he wrote a letter to Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch apologizing for his actions.

“I told them how sorry I was about bringing all this bad publicity to such a stand-up organization,” Burress said in the interview with Cowher.

Cowher, who was Burress’ coach for five years in Pittsburgh, told the New York Post that he believed the receiver was sincere in the interview.

“He looked me in the eye. I believe he was sincere,” Cowher told the newspaper. “I think I know him well enough to know that …

“He admittedly blames no one except himself. He’s had a lot of time to reflect. He’s had great, unwavering support from his wife. … It’s been an eye-awakening situation for him. He had a daughter born when he was in prison. It’s very sobering to be in there. When you walk through the door, and you listen to him talk, you can see it’s very genuine.”

Personally, I believe everyone deserves a second chance in life, but they have to earn it. It’s not uncommon that a man in person shows regret for the actions he took to get their and reach out to the people that he harmed. But what happens when Plax gets out of jail will be the true measure of whether or not he learned from the mistake he made.

Burress could be released as early as 2011 but he’ll be two years removed from playing and will also be 34. I’m sure some team will give him a shot as their third or fourth receiver, but he shouldn’t expect anything more than a tryout.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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