Cleveland Browns

They made their decision and must face the consequences.

CONTENT WARNING: This chapter contains graphic discussion of sexual assault allegations.

Over the past seven years, the Cleveland Browns chapter of Football Outsiders Almanac has kind of become a de facto argument about the usefulness of analytics. What can they do for you and how can they help an organization? How hard is it to implement these ideas while dealing with actual football people on a day-to-day basis? Analytics has almost descended into parody buzzword over the last five years. Anything a former football player dislikes is now, simply, “analytics.” What does analytics actually mean in football parlance? We would argue it’s about using data to find creative or overlooked ways to generate extra value for your football team. Going for it on fourth down in favorable situations, building a good right side of your offensive line with UDFAs and late-round picks, and finding a way to get pressure on the quarterback without elite pass-rushers are all technically examples of analytics.

And so, in theory, trading for Deshaun Watson is an analytical victory. Young franchise quarterbacks do not become available for any reason. Remember back to how the Texans stomped and preened about how Watson would remain with the team during David Culley’s opening press conference? There was no reason at that moment to envision Houston would actually trade him. It’s literally a 1/1 event that he was made available. Acquiring Watson was so obviously a victory in a football sense that four different teams were willing to pay at least three first-round picks to get in the door. The Browns were the team in that mix that had the least to lose because they were closest to competing for something with Watson. They have an established running game with three strong backs, a very good offensive line, and a defense with Myles Garrett and some up-and-coming cornerbacks. The one thing they couldn’t do at any point last season was mount a passing attack as Baker Mayfield struggled even more than he had in the past. (In fairness to him, he was playing through a torn labrum and fractured bone...