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Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown; Giving Up on Analytics? (UPDATE: Dorsey Hired)

Sam Hinkie, meet Sashi Brown. Sashi Brown, meet Mr. Hinkie. Get to know each other well.

The Browns this morning fired Sashi Brown. The scuttlebutt is that they will be getting rid of the entire analytics-based front office staff. It was obvious there was a long battle between head coach Hue Jackson and the front office, and Jackson has won. Owner Jimmy Haslam has committed to Jackson and said Jackson will be the head coach in 2018 even if the Browns finish 0-16. The new GM will be forced to keep Jackson as head coach. You know, unless Haslam is lying about that too.

Haslam is a liar. The whole point of the Brown/DePodesta front office was to take the time to commit to analytics and get this right, to build a contender slowly that could finally win for a long time and bring Cleveland a Super Bowl. They were told they had the time, and they knew it was a long journey. Read this quote here from Paul DePodesta:

The Cleveland front office has made mistakes, no question. The Kenny Britt deal. Ignoring medicals on Corey Coleman. We can argue about whether they should have drafted a quarterback. I think that they made a risk/reward evaluation on Carson Wentz, and it happened to work out for the Eagles. I would have drafted Deshaun Watson, I believed in him, and they disagreed. That's fine.

But they were told they had 3-4 years. So they always felt like they could wait until 2018 to get the quarterback if the right one wasn't there in 2016 or 2017. If Haslam had honestly told the front office, "You need to go 6-10 by 2017 or you are all fired," do you think they would have traded with Houston? Or would they have drafted Watson? Would they have maybe skipped Myles Garrett and drafted Mitchell Trubisky or Patrick Mahomes with the No. 1 pick? And would Cleveland be a better team in 2019 and 2020 without Myles Garrett to wreak havoc?

Well, gee, Jimmy, if you wanted someone with a lot of experience and a track record of success, why on earth did you hand your front office to Sashi Brown in the first place? Do you even understand that previous decisions by Jimmy Haslam were made by Jimmy Haslam? My god, THAT'S YOU.

Rumors say the Browns have their eyes on John Dorsey, former GM in Kansas City, to replace Brown. And look, Dorsey's got a good track record, he built a good team in Kansas City. He didn't go out and tear Eric Berry's Achilles this year. But you don't have success in the NFL by changing your front office every two years. Dorsey is going to use all those picks Sashi Brown traded for, and he's going to go 7-9 or 8-8, and everyone will get excited, and they will never actually make it to the Super Bowl. And three years from now, Haslam will get rid of him too.

UPDATE 7 p.m. EST: Well, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the Browns are not, in fact, cleaning house. She says Paul DePodesta and assistant GM Andrew Berry are keeping their jobs. Other reports say DePodesta will leave, but not Berry. This all remains to be seen. But this move makes a lot more sense if it is about Sashi Brown's personal mistakes in personnel choice and not the entire analytics concept. Andy Reid does analytics, and if John Dorsey can learn from Reid, he can get some use out of Berry, Ken Kovash, and the Browns analytics guys.

UPDATE 9:15 p.m. EST: The job was open for about half a day.

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Comments

87 comments, Last at 11 Dec 2017, 8:59am

50 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

Would you rather be them or Orlando (who is crashing down to earth and will almost certainly NOT make the playoffs for like the 8th time in 10 years)

It also appears the players who Hinkie bailed on (MCW) were sold high.

I'd rather be the Raptors or Heat, but that's just my own biases/their situations were way different

9 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

I'm more of the Mike school of thought on Sashi Brown (mostly for not taking Watson...the Browns roster does have some talented pieces elsewhere), but I think the biggest mistake here is keeping Hue Jackson in 2018. I think he's not a good head coach, and a new GM should be able to decide whether to keep him or not.

24 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

Yeah, I wonder if they actually see something from Jackson they like, or are they sticking with him just to maintain some consistency?

One win in nearly 2 years is not good. Most teams can accidentally win more games than that. But the Browns seem to make lots of bad in-game decisions, so they are rarely in position to steal a win.

Do the Jets have significantly more talent than Cleveland? I don't think so. But the Jets have 5 wins this year, and had a chance to win a few other games. Part of that is probably having a veteran QB who can make things happen.

42 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

when younger and dumber did engage in tlalent arguments online. like,. "this guy is more talwented the guy at same potisiton on other team" and do that right down the lien and total it up and decide team 1 more talent than team 2. But looking back what a waste of time. Means nothing. What igf the two people arguing have the same wrong opinions about players? And are you arguing talent like a scout would ro at you looking at stats too ro some combination. think phrase ofr this activity is mental masturbation

6 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

Wow just wow.

Who would take this job now?

I really wouldn't be surprised to see Hue Jackson talk his way into a dual GM/HC job and then waste all those draft picks on someone like Carson Palmer ...

Also does this mean we get Andrew Healy back at FO?

Oh yeah and who would buy a season ticket to watch this team?

13 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

If you're AJ McCarron, wouldn't you sign somewhere else? Also, if Sam Darnold was thinking about staying in school, he really is now. Hell, Rosen might stay now. Apparently there was a competition this week to see who was the most dysfunctional NFL franchise, and only the Giants and Browns were told.

38 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

I'd bet Arizona would listen if Hue offered the #1 to get Palmer back...

It will be interesting to see how this finishes playing out. If one of the
current FO team is promoted to GM then maybe there was Sashi specific issue in play, and there is a real attempt at continuity. And Hue should get one more year for the same reason. But if there are further firings then we'll know it's Haslam being Haslam and no one is ever safe.

______
Was wr

4 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

I don't know why they're looking outside the organization when the obvious move is to promote from within.

Who's excited for the Ryan Grigson era in Cleveland?

(But for real, until I see that DePodesta is gone too, I'll hold out hope that maybe Sashi did something behind the scenes that maybe earned this, and that they'll commit to staying smart, that they're letting Hue have the same leash they deserve, and that Andrew Berry will get more responsibility.

Then again, it's Haslam. Sigh...)

10 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

Saddling a new GM with an old coach is great recipe for spinning your wheels for a while. Since the two are independently hired, they're not necessarily on the same page. And it's a great recipe for the kind of power struggle the Browns have had over and over under Haslam, since the head coach is senior to the guy who he technically reports to. Plus, changing GMs every two years or so is a big part of why the Browns never get any traction on rebuilding. Browns gonna Browns I guess.

19 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

This is the part that I worry about most as a Browns fan. I'm actually less specifically worried about the firing in the middle of a rebuild issue, as the 76ers are pretty good after the firing of Sam Hinkie. He made good choices as GM that wouldn't really show up until 2 years later, and there's some hope the same happens for the Browns and Sashi's choices. I think you can say the same for the development of players for the Jaguars under Gus Bradley as coach.

I guess the issue is that I don't think firings always mean dropping everything the person did for the organization, though it's hard to weed out those that do versus those that do not.

52 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

See my post above. The most high profile guy he bailed on, Michael Carter Williams, is *absolutely unplayable* (see last night). Okafor is unplayable in the modern game. Nerlens Noel is all defense but an absolute liability on offense.

He did trade a pick away, but that really doesn't fall under player evaluation.

General issue is that the players he drafted were part of the old NBA where big men were king and the two he abandoned never developed anything to adapt.

This is too NBA-y already but it fits with the argument - Hinkie got screwed over because of something out of his control, just like the Browns have NOT been the worst team in the league

14 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

I'm fairly indifferent about this firing. Obviously it's only in hindsight that Wentz and Watson have made them look silly, but I still believe they have underestimated the importance and difficulty of filling the QB position (and said so after the draft this year). For better or worse (but really, how could it get any worse?) this must mean they are now drafting a QB with #1 pick in the spring. And the they've still got the draft capital that this regime accumulated.

I'm still astonished Hue Jackson will keep his job. Even with a lousy roster, I see very little evidence of progress in the last two years, and the coach has to bear most of the responsibility for that.

15 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

I feel you cannot blame Sashi for passing on Wentz and Watson. Wentz had decent stats, but he was playing at a lower level, on a team that won 5 championships in a row. Claiming they are the Alabama of the FCS level is an insult to North Dakota State. Taking a bunch of picks to pass on him makes sense to me. In hindsight, it didn't work out. DeShaun Watson looks great now, but he only played five games in a very good situation. I"m sure he would have had trouble without two large fast receivers to claim jump balls from him.

20 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

I agree in a vacuum, and they did indeed receive good hauls for those picks. But unless you get extraordinarily lucky with a lower round pick, or a veteran free agent somehow becomes available, eventually you have to take the plunge near the top of the draft. Are any of this year's prospects less risky than Watson? Should Cleveland trade down again, even if it entails fielding a putrid offense for another season?

22 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

Less risky picks than Watson this year; well, if they come out, Darnold and Rosen. Cleveland would get their first pick at either of them if they come out. If they don't come out, perhaps they should trade down and let someone like John Elway have the Josh Allen experience. I don't see him working out for whoever drafts him.

56 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

The main argument against Watson as a prospect was his throwing velocity at the combine. It was under 50 MPH, and the most successful NFL QB who did that poorly was...Mike Glennon. That made him look like a tremendously risky prospect, to say the least.

In retrospect, the main flaw with that analysis was that the combine didn't measure throwing velocity until the last few years or so. People were drawing these conclusions from a sample size of *less than 100*! That's most likely what the Browns did...a classic pitfall of football statistics.

This is a conversation a lot of the FO community didn't seem to be aware of, but it was alllll over both Fantasy Football Twitter & Scouting Twitter.

67 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

Interestingly, Matt Waldman's pre-draft assessment of Watson was basically: could be good, but needs to land in the right situation.

The Texans seem like a pretty good situation: decent o-line, decent RBs, one great WR and some okay ones, and a great defense. Oh, and they play in a crappy division.

The Browns are basically the opposite of that.

68 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

Houston has been a wasteland for QBs the past few season; they hadn't had competent QB play since Matt Schaub fell off a cliff in 2012/13. Ok, so Watson is their first serious attempt at drafting a QB in that time, but the situation there wasn't enough to help the guys who preceded him look competent.

70 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

The fact that the previous QBs in Houston had little success may be because Houston didn't provide wasn't a good situation for young QBs, or it may be because the young QBs it had weren't very good. As you say, this is Houston's first serious attempt at drafting a QB, so I tend to think it's the latter.

83 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

"The Texans seem like a pretty good situation: decent o-line, decent RBs, one great WR and some okay ones, and a great defense. Oh, and they play in a crappy division.

The Browns are basically the opposite of that."

Not exactly. The Browns' O problems are not really on their line or their RBs - their run DVOA is 7th, and even with JT out their line doesn't have any glaring weak links, like they did last year with Cam Erving.

WRs haven't been good, but if Josh Gordon can stay un-suspended - I know, I know - and Coleman can be healthy, they're not the problem; Njoku has a lot of potential at TE and DeValve can be adequate.

Their secondary isn't very good but their front 7 are among the better in the league.

The AFC North is arguably as bad as the South this year, and will continue to be as Roethlisberger declines/retires and Flacco continues to be the biggest albatross contract in the league. Indeed, I think one of the goals of the Browns' "moneyballing" was for their young talent to hit their stride just as the AFC as a whole opens up with Roethlisberger and Brady retiring.

71 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

Good point. I buy it. Frankly, the idea that any player would have been exactly the same in any situation seems about as a big a fallacy as saying a draft pick who got injured would've also got injured if he'd been picked by any other team. Change anything and you might (or might not!) change everything.

72 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

Interesting thought.

I like Goff and the Rams, but I'm still not 100% sure if he's good, or if he's been getting lucky. But clearly he's better than he was last year.

If we assume the Goff is proof that the environment can be the difference between success and failure for a QB, what should a team do if their young/rookie QB doesn't play well?

DeShone Kizer has been brutal this year. Is he just bad, or is the environment bringing him down? Should the Browns stick with him and change the coaching staff? So far it looks like the Browns haven't been wrong on giving up on any of their post-1999 QB's, since none of them have done well on other teams, except Josh McCown this year, but he's too old to be their long-term starter anyway.

26 Re: Cleveland Fires Sashi Brown, Gives up on Analytics

Now Josh Rosen is saying he hasn't decided about leaving UCLA. (Maybe he's just saying that because they still have a bowl game to play.)

But if neither Darnold nor Rosen come out, are there any QB's worthy of the #1 overall pick?

That could be even worse for Cleveland. The new GM reaches to take a QB because he thinks he has to take a QB or get fired, and then it's Johnny Manziel all over again.