Hey, did anything important happen on Thursday? Maybe a potentially drastic pivot by the Cleveland Browns front office that may or may not signify a departure from The Plan of the HBT? Oh, executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown was fired, and the Browns hired his replacement whom they have been talking with for five-to-six weeks.
Brown certainly had his fair share of failures during his short tenure in control of the 53-man roster. A recent look at the status of The Plan had shown few selections in the draft had demonstrated an obvious aptitude of being a long-term NFL player. He also did have a fair number of successes born from those drafts such as Larry Ogunjobi. However, the timlines of Jimmy Haslam searching for a replacement the past five weeks indicates Brown being responsible for botching an agreed upon trade deadline move to bring in A.J. McCarron was his final undoing regardless of anyone’s opinions on the trade itself.
The next several days will have a glut of articles sure to lambast Brown and dissect each move that went wrong. But hey, we’ve all made mistakes. In a show of solidarity with being a human prone to error, here’s a look at some of my worst analysis and predictions on the Cleveland Browns. I’m not going to quite give up my preferring the Browns shift towards the use of more analytics though because Andrew Berry and Paul DePodesta still work in Berea.1
Here are some other doozies though.
Which coach/GM/regime I was convinced the Browns had finally solved their organizational issues before everything self-combusted?
A long-time fan of the aggressive 3-4 defense Rex Ryan deployed, I found myself excited for the promise of a Mike Pettine led team whose philosophies were born from that tree. Adding in the promise of the creative offenses of Kyle Shanahan seemed a natural fit to pull the Browns out of the malaise they had suffered through under the stewardship of the Mike Holmgren regime and the single year of Banner-Lombardi-Chudzinski.2 Two years of Kyle’s powerpoints, texts from Ray, Johnny Manziel’s idiocy, and getting to know Jim O’Neil proved the theory to be much better than the practice.
When did the Browns most fool me in what they might become? In other words, my worst preseason prediction on the Browns record? How did I get steered so wrong?
2008 was the year after the Indians came within one win of the World Series, the Cavs made it to the NBA Finals, and the Browns were coming off their only double-digit win season since they returned to the Northcoast. I was all-in. Despite preferring to cash in on Derek Anderson’s surprising season with Brady Quinn ready behind him, having two quarterbacks was better than the none we had before, right? Ah, the sweet, sweet reckoning starting a season with three straight losses when the expectation is that of competing for a playoff berth. Of course, the season ended on six straight losses to eviscerate any hope one might have had to salvage that flawed team the next season, which head coach Romeo Crennel would not see.
What Browns quarterback was I convinced would stabilize the position who proved to be “just another name on the jersey?” Why did I think that quarterback was going to be the answer?
Heck, I’m still convinced Manziel was capable of playing quarterback in the NFL if he could have gotten out of his own way off the field. Extending plays, pushing the ball down the field, and using his legs when the weather conditions would not allow for a solid passing game, Manziel had the physical components needed to succeed; despite his actual size. But, oh boy, those off field issues.
What non-quarterback draft pick had me convinced he would be dominant; only to add to the long list of busted selections?
My blindspot was not knowing or choosing not to understand the character of some of the prospects. Too often I allowed myself to become entranced by the physical attributes that push the ceiling of potential high, while ignoring the trap door they would pull open themselves. Justin Gilbert had every tangible skill necessary to dominate as a cornerback in the NFL. He also lacked every intangible. Sigh.
What draft pick (either picked by the Browns or passed over by the team) did I fully believe was a sure bust, but they ended up being good-to-great?
OK, so here’s one that didn’t help Sashi Brown either after the entire front office came out with the “not a Top 20 quarterback” talk. Yep, Carson Wentz gets a shout-out here. WFNY’s Pat Leonard and myself even did a back-n-forth debating the merits between Wentz and Jared Goff in that draft class, but, as can be seen both in that article and my over-rated one, I was decidedly against drafting Wentz. After an uneven rookie year though, Wentz is showing himself to be a Top 10 quarterback in the NFL (possibly better). Whoops.
Do I have another cold take about the Browns I would like to self-expose? Perhaps an old article that I wish I had sat out?
Just take a pick from my 2015 preseason Browns predictions. Isaiah Crowell as a good runner, Andrew Hawkins as a surprise performer, a dominant secondary, and a controlling interior defense. Oh, and ignore the predicted record.3 Please. I blame not being used to making predictions coming off a whole seven-win season.