Sashi Brown’s Legacy is Now in the Hands of Revisionist Historians
(973espn.com) — You'd have to throw out your back reaching for the rationalization that Sashi Brown should remain in the position of executive vice president of football operations for the Cleveland Browns after nearly two seasons which produced just one win and even less hope.
Ultimately Brown and Paul DePodesta's failure to redefine how NFL front offices do business with a new school NBA-like tanking approach can be traced to the old-school inability of judging talent.
Brown and his chief strategy officer collected plenty of assets that new general manager John Dorsey will be thrilled to turn into something tangible but they swung and missed so badly on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson over consecutive years that even Jesus himself couldn't save them.
Perhaps the bigger issue, however, is the fundamental failure in understanding how to build an NFL roster. If you get the quarterback everything else falls into place. It's not the other way around.
The Browns now infamously surmised that Wentz would never become a top 20 QB in the NFL before trading out in 2016 and the second-year player was on his way to being league MVP before tearing his ACL in Los Angeles last Sunday. Back in April, Cleveland passed on Watson, the former Clemson star, who exploded onto the scene in Houston before suffering his own ACL tear, as well as options in which the jury is still out on like Mitchell Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes.
The Browns brain trust turned out much like Sam Hinkie in Philadelphia, so sure in its path forward that it was blinded to the deficiencies plain to see for everyone else.
Life is a lot like a pendulum and when something doesn't work, it swings back the other way and Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam tabbed a true "football guy" -- John Dorsey -- to clean up the mess that resulted in 1-27.
"You know what? You've got to get [coach Hue Jackson] players," Dorsey told WKNR 850 in Cleveland. "And you know what? I'll come straight out with it. The guys who were here before, that system, they didn't get real players."
That's unfair because the Browns did get some really good prospects over the last two drafts that will come on like gangbusters if they ever solve the QB position but the tough talk was signaling a change in direction, one that doesn't treat analytics and measurables as some sort of unassailable science.
"As Bill Parcells would always say, 'you are your record' and you know what? There it is, so that's the truth-teller in this thing," said Dorsey. "And I'm going to do my darnedest to get Hue players."
That will be spun by some as another old school guy checking to see how attractive someone's girlfriend is to measure confidence vs. the cottage industry of YouTube scouts who use highlight clips without context to bolster their own preconceived notions on analytics and measurables, people who really believe they understand the game better than a football lifer like Dorsey.
"He's football 24/7," Jackson said. "... "He's walking up and down these halls preaching, 'Let's win. Let's get to winning as fast as we can.' I appreciate that. He is doing everything he needs to do on his end."
As with most things, the answer probably lies in the middle of Brown's wheelhouse and Dorsey's acumen. Much like Hinkie in Philadelphia before him, Brown was to slow to adapt and tweak his beliefs.
And when you are doing something "innovative" you better stay ahead of the curve or you become low-hanging fruit for the critics.
For Cleveland, however, all the pain should finally lead to something. Brown collected his draft picks and now they are in the possession of one of the most well-respected personnel minds in the NFL.
The Browns are finally going to get better and maybe the revisionist historians over in the NBA who have built a flawed Hinkie regime into something far more than it really was can now go to work on Sashi's legacy.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for Extra Points Media and 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen