AKRON, Ohio - Preaching patience to a fan base that has never been to a Super Bowl is a tough sell, but Browns President Mike Holmgren told a room filled with brown and orange supporters to hang in there because the team is better.
Speaking at a "Football Friday" luncheon on the campus of the University of Akron, Holmgren said, "I know it's been hard and I know it's frustrating, but keep the faith. Stay with us. You guys are great fans."
Since Holmgren was hired in 2009, the Browns have won 9 games and lost 23. Many of the fans at Friday's luncheon support Holmgren, but expressed frustration over the team's performance.
"Some of the plays that are called, and some of the things that go on the field, you kind of scratch your head," said Todd Winter, of Broadview Heights.
"It's like, can we level it out? Can we have a good defense and a good offense and be consistent and win some games?" Seth Lipocky, of Akron, said.
Holmgren said the 2012 draft should give hope to the fans. He praised first round draft picks running back Trent Richardson and quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Holmgren said he "still loves Colt McCoy," but added that Weeden could be the quarterback to lead the Browns to that elusive Super Bowl.
"I will always look for the guy. I will always look, every season, for the guy that I think has to be the player to take the team to championship, and that's why we picked Weeden," Holmgren said.
He also acknowledged criticism that he hasn't been visible enough as the face of the Cleveland Browns. He said he did that on purpose because he didn't want to get in the way of head coach Pat Shurmur.
"That said, I think I'm going to do a couple of extra things this year to communicate a little bit," Holmgren said.
Holmgren said he expect the team to make "a jump" this season, but wouldn't predict a record.
When asked by a fan when he expects the Browns to be a playoff contender, Holmgren said, "I hope soon. I'm getting up there."