Happy Monday folks. Bode filled in for me on Friday, so I’m here on a Monday and I’m talking about the Browns.
First things first, I want to thank all those who support us via Patreon. It’s been one of the only things that kept this site afloat over the past 6-8 months financially. Don’t look now, but WFNY is headed for its 10th year of existence. It’s always been about you guys who read the site and because of Patreon it’s even more about you guys than ever before. I’m always trying to find ways to add value there, and it’s difficult, but you make a real difference. Thank you.
John Dorsey and the reason Sashi Brown is gone…
Now that Sashi Brown is gone, there will be constant chatter trying to wrap up his tenure with conclusions and comparisons. Is he gone because the old guard against analytics won their battle? Is he gone because Hue Jackson won a power struggle? Is he gone because Jimmy Haslam is the most impetuous and meddlesome owner since the elder Steinbrenner passed away? The problem with the world today is that we try and boil everything down to a truthful substrate, even though we all know how many ingredients were impactful along the way even if they evaporated during a hot boil. It’s not one thing. It’s everything.
I found myself defending Hue Jackson all weekend, and I don’t want to do that. Hue Jackson’s in-game management of the Cleveland Browns is maddening more often than not. His clock management and challenges are enough to give Browns fans heartburn. His uneven use of what few weapons he has will drive you insane. All that said, when it came down to the firing of Brown and hiring of Dorsey, I find myself defending Hue Jackson because regardless of any coach, it’s about the players and building a team. That was Sashi Brown’s responsibility and despite adding talent, he failed to build a team.
The Browns play damn hard for Hue Jackson, and I think that serves as a defense for his portion of the tear-it-down-to-the-studs equation. The fact is that Hue Jackson’s only win in his career with the Browns came late in the first season with Robert Griffin III at QB doing just enough to not lose the game. Even then, the Browns needed the Chargers to miss overtime by missing two game-tying field goals.
The Browns followed that up with a plan for the most important position in football that included nary a win among the candidates. I see a lot of fans blaming Hue Jackson for his handling of the quarterback situation, and I have problems as well. Still, I’m honest enough to admit that coming into a season with Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer, and Kevin Hogan is walking a tightrope with no net by a front office. I’m sure Hue Jackson liked the potential of DeShone Kizer, but he tried to hand that job to both Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler before he was nearly forced to play the rookie.
I don’t want to re-litigate it all except to point out that maybe we’ve been thinking about Sashi Brown to John Dorsey all wrong. I know a lot of Cleveland fans want to compare it to Chris Grant and David Griffin, but maybe not in the way that we should. You know what the biggest difference between Chris Grant and David Griffin might have been? Griff was like a psychologist analyzing the mood of the team. He famously talked about the mentality of his team when he made the bold decision to dump David Blatt. Griff was interested in analytics, assets, and making the right moves for his team, but he seemed to focus on and get in tune with the team’s chemistry. I was reminded of this when I read Tony Grossi’s report of what John Dorsey was doing following the Browns’ gut-punching loss to the Packers on Sunday. Dorsey was sitting in the corner of the locker room observing his new team. He also spoke to a few players including DeShone Kizer.
New Browns GM John Dorsey said he wanted to spend next 4 weeks getting to know the locker room. He sat in a corner after latest loss and observed players' moods & actions.
— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) December 10, 2017
That doesn’t mean John Dorsey is going to do a good job. It just means to me that I think he might be focused on the right things. It’s important to do some of the things that Sashi Brown did for the Browns. The defensive line was crushing Green Bay during the first half because of Larry Ogunjobi, and other unheralded draft picks with Danny Shelton and Emmanuel Ogbah missing time. In addition to drafting those players though, the job goes further, and I think this was Sashi Brown’s largest failing. He didn’t do enough to build a team and listen to his coaches to keep them on board.
We’ll never know all the details of the ins and outs of the Hue Jackson / Sashi Brown relationship, but safe to say that they weren’t on the same page. I know nobody wants to hear about Terrelle Pryor anymore, but Brown essentially traded him for Britt. Say what you want about Pryor’s year in Washington, that’s a guy that Hue Jackson knew how to use, and he lost him through no fault of his own after fostering a relationship with the man over the years.
We heard whispers at just how upset the coaching staff was about losing Demario Davis and Joe Haden for nothing as well. Even my compatriots at this website hate the idea that I still bring up Joe Haden’s name. The issue isn’t necessarily about Joe Haden on the field and what he can do to impress the guys at PFF. That’s not me taking a shot at analytics. I’m just saying that analytics are only a part of the equation. Analytics were good for someone like Justin Gilbert, right? He had size, speed and athletic measurables that never let anyone in the Ray Farmer Browns front office realize he was a turd. An overpriced Joe Haden or 28-year-old Demario Davis might not be factors in a version of the Browns that are challenging for the playoffs according to analytics and forward-looking plans built in spreadsheets. The truth is more complex. Those are real guys that the coaching staff wanted in their locker room. They’re not just buckets of stats like those two-dimensional Madden avatars with ratings on the decline in most athletic categories.
Despite their abilities or their career arcs, these are real humans that possess experiences and personalities and habits that are part of the chemistry of a team and its locker room. They also represent something to a coaching staff that is looking for signs of support and understanding as they go about an unenviable rebuilding process that sees the Browns consistently trading down for more picks. Sashi Brown didn’t do that.
David Griffin is the one who fired Blatt and maybe John Dorsey will have to fire Hue Jackson or beg Jimmy Haslam to fire him at some point. In the meantime, I expect John Dorsey to make the most of the Browns’ assets in the near-term and the long-term while focusing on creating a team rather than just a bunch of really nice prospects on an island of inexperience and doubt. And that’s why I continue to give Hue Jackson a bit more time. It’s not that I think he’s destined to be the next NFL rock star coach. I just look at this collection of talent, and the only “team” aspects I see are because Hue Jackson has somehow kept them from quitting on him.
My friends make beautiful music…
I’ve had Shawn Brewster on the podcast. He’s a great musician with a few different musical projects including Oldboy and Shawn and Shelby. He and Shelby put out a new song with a video, and it’s everything I love about music. It’s dark, brooding, has urgency, and nice vocals. I hope you like it as much as I do.