Sports | Analysis
December 7, 2017 at 12:52 PM
The Process, Cleveland Browns style, wasn’t working. Far from it. It was failing miserably.
Something had to be done.
That’s what the Browns did Thursday — something. Whether it will work remains to be seen. There always is reason to be skeptical when the Browns are involved. They are, after all, the Browns.
But this actually makes sense. The Browns chose their coach, Hue Jackson, over their front office. They decided their primary problem was the way the roster was being constructed, not the way it was being used. They are right.
The Browns, winless this season and with a record of 1-27 since the start of last season, announced Thursday they had fired Sashi Brown as their executive vice president of football operations, and owner Jimmy Haslam said in a statement that Jackson will return next season as coach.
“We have great appreciation and gratitude for Sashi’s commitment and leadership to our organization but believe transitioning to someone with strong experience and success in drafting and building consistently winning football teams is critical to the future of the Cleveland Browns,” Haslam said. “Today we informed Sashi that we were going in a new direction. The 2018 draft and offseason is pivotal for our franchise; we need to ensure that we maximize our opportunity for success, with our picks, free agency and building our roster.”
The Browns aren’t just bad. They are historically bad. A year ago, they avoided a winless season with a victory in game No. 15. They’re right back at it this season, currently 0-12.
So there is blame to go around. But Jackson is respected around the league, even with his pitiable record as a head coach. He deserves a chance to see what he can do with a sensibly constructed roster.
The Browns, after adding “Moneyball” guru Paul DePodesta to the front office, consistently have violated the No. 1 rule of football roster construction: If you don’t have a franchise quarterback, do everything you can to try to get one.
They went out of their way to avoid selecting Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in the past two drafts. Wentz is now an MVP candidate in Philadelphia, and Watson was well on his way to being the offensive rookie of the year in Houston before getting hurt.
The Browns couldn’t land Jimmy Garoppolo on the trade market. They botched a tentative deal for AJ McCarron at the trade deadline this year by failing to submit their notification to the league office in time.
Meanwhile, Jackson has had to try to get by with Robert Griffin III or Josh McCown or Cody Kessler or Kevin Hogan or DeShone Kizer.
That’s inexcusable. And the Browns decided Thursday they couldn’t excuse it. They decided they couldn’t allow the current front office to make the next big decision at quarterback.
The next GM will inherit a promising situation. John Dorsey, former general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, is being mentioned as a top candidate.
The Browns have two first-round picks and three second-rounders in the 2018 draft. They could have the top selection in a year in which there will be promising quarterbacks available: The class could include USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and others. If the Browns instead decide to make a run at, say, Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins if he’s available as a free agent, they will have abundant salary-cap space.
Maybe someday the Process as undertaken by the Browns will resemble that of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, who seem well on their way to successfully transforming all-time dreadfulness into a talented roster and a contending team.
But if it happens, that turnaround will be overseen by a different front office roster architect.
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