When the Browns put Sashi Brown in charge of football operations and the 53 man roster, the "football purists" grumbled. "They're not going to get any attractive coaches or personnel guys there," they said.
When the Browns hired Paul DePodesta, signaling a strong desire to work analytics into the organization's decision-making, the "football purists" grumbled some more. "We hope it fails," they said, trying to protect the traditional methods they've been accustom to.
Despite the backlash some predicted, the Browns landed arguably the best head-coaching candidate on the market in Hue Jackson, who brought with him one of the better new coaching staffs in the NFL. He embraced analytics.
Now, after the Browns completed the core of their front office with the hiring of Andrew Berry a couple of days ago, the grumbling among "football purists" has continued. According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer, "A number of highly respected personnel men at the Senior Bowl criticized the Browns' new top brass," with one of them saying that the Browns "should be ashamed of themselves."
Top execs -- football purists who have paid their dues for decades in some cases -- lament that the Browns passed on opportunities to hire some of the best talent evaluators in the business such as Jaguars director of player personnel Chris Polian, Chiefs director of football operations Chris Ballard, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin, Falcons assistant general manager Scott Pioli, Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough, Packers director of player personnel Eliot Wolf and others.
Sure -- for all we know, this could all blow up in Jimmy Haslam's face a few years from now, and the move will be criticized. If that time comes, I, and presumably many other Browns fans, should stand firm that we were in support of the trip down innovation lane. I've been writing for SB Nation since 2006, and one of the reasons that it has not only survived, but flourished into one of the top sports networks on the Internet is because they challenged the traditional standards of newspapers and national media outlets. SB Nation were innovators in the field, and after a couple of years of seeing it worked, the newspapers and national media outlets finally started to follow suit.
What is your stance, Browns fans? If you had to state your opinion on the record, are you in favor of the Browns' innovative approach, or would you rather have had them hire a traditional general manager without all of the analytics involved?