The team of Sashi Brown (Executive VP of Football Operations) and Paul DePodesta (Chief Strategy Officer) had their introductory press conference in Berea Thursday morning. Although we heard from Brown a little bit during Hue Jackson's introductory press conference, today was less about the team's coaching situation and more about what Brown and DePodesta will be doing in their new roles in Cleveland. They covered a lot of ground, and I've provided a cliff notes version below. You can read the full transcript or watch the press conference here.
There Will Not be a General Manager
Prior to the press conference, Brown met privately with members of the media, where he revealed that the team will not be hiring a general manager. This is something I speculated last week, when Brown started referring to the position as their "top personnel person." Sure enough, he confirmed that the position they are looking for is a Vice President of Player Personnel, and they expect to hire somebody within the next two weeks.
Sashi Brown Still Has the Final Say, But It's Collective
Brown re-iterated that he will have the final say on the 53-man roster, as well as other football decisions. With that said, he also tried to convey they he's not running some dictatorship -- "I think one of my strengths also is to be able to bring people together and form a consensus, take information and make good strategic decisions," said Brown.
Along with the new VP of Player Personnel, DePodesta said that Jackson will have a huge influence on a lot of the things they do. "We’re not all clones of one another," said DePodesta. "All of us bring a little something different to the table and by creating a team that way hopefully at the end of the day we end up with a much more dynamic solution than we otherwise would have."
DePodesta to Split Time Between Cleveland and California
In an interview on Vice this week, there was a nugget that not many people seemed to catch on to -- the fact that DePodesta will still live in California despite his new position with the Browns. He was asked about that during today's press conference and confirmed that he will commute to Cleveland while still living in California. He noted that he did the same thing between New York and California for the past five years, when he was the vice president of player development and scouting for the Mets. During the summer time, though, he expects to be in Cleveland "as if he were living here."
Scrapping the Strength & Conditioning Team
Due to the Browns having so many soft tissue injuries this past year, Brown announced that they are hiring a new strength and conditioning staff this year, although some of the coaches from the staff might still end up staying. In addition, they've hired a "high performance director," Adam Beard, whose job will be to identify why those injuries occurred and put processes and systems in place to make sure that don’t have a repeat situation in 2016 onward.
Speaking Volumes on the QB Position & Josh Gordon
"Listen, [we're] excited about having (QB) Josh (McCown) in the building. (QB) Johnny (Manziel), obviously, is on the roster and we also had (QB) Austin (Davis) and added him last year and extended him, good young quarterback."
That is Brown speaking on the quarterback situation, where he "obviously" just glossed over QB Johnny Manziel compared to the other two quarterbacks, who he labeled as either "excited about having" or a "good, young quarterback." When asked about the team's 2014 quarterback study, which supposedly said that Teddy Bridgewater was the best quarterback of the draft, Brown said that he was not going to comment on decisions made in the past. "We’ll rely on [objective data about what college prospects might pan to be and projections for draft eligible players] moving forward," said Brown.
Brown said that Manziel was fined by the team for missing his required medical treatment on the final Sunday of the season. "I think for Johnny he is an individual and he is a man and he is going to have to obviously own a lot of this in terms of his future career," said Brown. He also confirmed that WR Josh Gordon has applied for reinstatement to the NFL. "He’ll go through a protocol there and then if Josh is able to clear that and come back to the roster we would sit down with him and figure out where he is physically and mentally and move forward."
DePodesta's Theme on Analytics
The first thing that might pop in to your mind when it comes to Brown and DePodesta is "analytics." If that's the case, then why have I made it the sixth sub-headline in my recap? I did it intentionally to tie in to the theme that DePodesta made about the misconception with analytics.
"I think [about analytics] much more broadly than other do. To me, it’s not really about numbers or algorithms, for me it’s really just about a mindset and the mindset is about trying to use information to make better decisions, especially in the face of uncertainty which is what all of these professionals sports are really about."
What type of things does that cover? This again comes from DePodesta:
"This is something that’s been around in football forever. When we time players in the 40-yard dash or we test them in other things at the combine to help us make a better decision in the draft, that’s analytics. When you’re deciding what play to call on third and 9 based on what the other defense does, what your capabilities are, you’re using analytics to make that decision. I don’t think it’s going to be something that’s truly novel but we’re certainly going to be seeking out, not only information but better information to help us make better decisions in all phases, whether it’s with personnel, whether its player development, the draft, etc."
Brown added that they want to, across the organization, turn over and create every competitive advantage they can. "[Analytics will be] very additive to what we do; it won’t be dictating our personnel decisions but hopefully informing them," said Brown. He also said that they have some "talented, very smart, young folks with analytics backgrounds" that make for a "pretty robust department" compared to other NFL clubs.
Joe Thomas a Big Part of the Team Moving Forward
Based on what Brown said, trading LT Joe Thomas doesn't seem to be in the cards:
"You would have to ask Joe how satisfied he was with [our answers to his questions], but he is a guy that is going to be a big piece of what we do moving forward. He has a tremendous amount of insight that we will gleam from."
What Did You Think?
Check out the full transcript/presser, because there is a lot of analytics stuff I didn't cover. What do you think of the Browns' new leadership? Do you remain excited about the prospects of what they can deliver?