The real reason Sashi Brown is gone: While We’re Waiting

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.

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.

  • RGB

    He’ll publish an article on PFF, which is really all he wanted in the first place.

  • RGB

    Comment of the day, right there.

  • bossman09

    The concept that 1-28 is the result of EITHER Jackson OR Sashi is so fascinating to me. Somehow the conversation is about picking sides and not the fact that both are bad.

    Sashi – one viable WR who at best had a hard luck injury but is more likely injury prone. Started the season without a QB who has won an NFL game. started the season with youngest roster and very few vets (there are certainly some but veteran leadership/rookie mistakes is a problem). The first two items should preclude you from a GM job. You can talk about plan or who really influenced the QB decisions all you want. The guy responsible for the roster didn’t do enough. 1-28 is 1-28

    Hue Jackson – worst 2 years stretch in head coaching history. I don’t care what you say about the roster, unless there is a bus accident or strike to explain why you don’t have players. Going 1-28 or 2-30 is so epically bad that you are a bad coach regardless. If you spend the time, you can actually find worse rosters since 1999. Even the Browns are not as bad as the Browns at winning without talent.

    Based on purely that facts, neither has EARNED a job. You can make excuses why you want to keep either, but neither one has earned it.
    Of course, the real problem is that Haslem hired 2 guys and assumed they would play nice together. 2 years later we are looking at the same issue. In case everyone forgot, we had the most salary cap and 4 picks in the top 50 in 2017 – the draft that was supposed to change the browns – and we are currently 0-13. Given that our Coach is a D-bag and the new GM doesn’t have any relationship with the coach, no amount of picks or money will determine if we are successful if they undermine each other.

  • bossman09

    Sashi has no idea that the teams coach would sell him out.

  • bossman09

    So what was the answer – Radio in the machine gun location and hope the bombers find it before the germans ambush someone?

  • The_Matt_of_Akron
  • Garry_Owen

    Lots of options, all METT-TC dependent. But SFC Horvath was right; their mission was to find Ryan. They had less than a squad – at best, a fire team. Regardless, METT-TC would never dictate an assault as conducted.

  • Chris

    No no no… he’s publishing in HBR.

    “NFL Ownership and Its Inability to Comprehend Pure Brilliance”
    by Sashi Brown

  • Chris

    Oh, the good ol’ tl;dr

  • Harv

    Agree with much of this. The real questions are: 1) are either competent at the respective positions they were placed in? 2) If one or both is/was, does the organizational structure (everyone reporting to and vying for favor of a know-nothing owner) permit that competence to manifest itself on the field?

    What I fear with Dorsey: they finally hired someone with a good track record at the position for which he was hired, but when the insecure coach feels the heat the palace intrigue of scurrying to Jimmy and Dee begins. Michael Silver might already be digging for Dorsey dirt.

  • tigersbrowns2

    good post BOSS

  • BJohnsOne

    Exactly. Every pick, especially the QB, is a collaboration. Regarding the QB selections, I would guess Sashi and the HBT gave Hue’s opinions extra weight. We don’t know the conversations they had. Was there a consensus regarding Wentz? Who knows? Just hope they get it right going forward.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi BJO … welcome to the board. i don’t know this to be a fact , but i would guess Hue had conditions for taking the Browns job : 1) be able to get rid of Manziel , 2) to call his own plays & 3) to make the call on any QB decisions.

    it looks like Hue went to the owner in regards to the botched McCarron deal & he didn’t go to Sashi.

    You are right though … they have to get it right this next off-season & i think they will.

  • paulbip

    Shitcan all the losers that strutted around wearing sunglasses.Put them in zoot suits and take away their paychecks and then see how cool they are.

  • As Far as My Eyes Can See

    Nice article Craig. I think the Browns might have just lucked out this time. Sashi Brown had his failings, but he did set the table nicely for the next GM with young talent, plenty of extra draft picks, and lots of cap room. That said, he almost certainly wasn’t the guy best equipped to optimize those advantages. John Dorsey probably is. He’s very good at evaluating talent. He loves to study film. He’s had several months to recharge and reflect on his career, and he’s spent that time studying college prospects. Football is his life. He comes across as being inspired by the challenge the Browns represent, and he knows that bringing our storied franchise back to glory could be his legacy.

  • Skulb

    I was hoping for something more exciting. Time for a random Gary Larsson drop then.