At long last, the 2016 season is set to begin.
The first season of the Analytics Era will start on Sunday with a road matchup in Philadelphia. In advance of the game, Executive Vice President Sashi Brown spoke to the media on Friday afternoon.
Below are some interesting clips from his chat with the press.
- The Browns are uber-dependent on rookies. Admit it or not, Brown has some unrealistic expectations for his rookies.
“We’re looking at 2016. For us, it’s about finding that nucleus of young talent that we can bring in. We stepped back at the end of last year and had to make some hard decisions about where our roster was, coming off of a 3-13 season. We’re counting on the guys who are coming in, we don’t expect them to play like rookies, they will at different times. But we expect our guys to perform the duties they’re asked by their coaches [...] When you play with young players, people haven’t seen them. But one of the worst things you can do is get familiar with players just because you’ve heard the names. We’re not going to do that, so we’ve got some young players on the team, and we believe in them.”
- Just like most organizations, the Browns will avoid (or at least attempt to) reading the newspaper. Brown fired back against Brian Billick’s crazy prediction.
“We don’t bother ourselves with the external noise. The headlines are the headlines and I understand it’s people with these jobs do when when they want to catch a soundbite. And that’s great. Internally, we focus on our work, getting our players to buy in and focus and putting them in the best position to go out and win on Sunday. And for us, I think the important thing is that our guys come out and work their tails off, be prepared for Sundays, and buy into what our coaches are asking them to do. And that’s all we can really ask of them. So we’ll let the results fall where they may, but we don’t go in expecting to win less games than any number that we have the opportunity to go out and win. As I said there, we don’t expect to win a few amount of games or anything like that. We’re realistic with where our roster is but we’ll go into every game with the mindset of, ‘We will win the game.”
- Here’s the hidden gem of the Brown press conference: his philosophy on Robert Griffin III. Read closely, particularly on the length of the team’s commitment to RG3.
“For us, we’ve been pleased with Robert, coming and working hard, really learning the system is the first thing for him, taking to the coaching. Hue and Pep have done a great job with him, and he’s really bought in. So we’ve been pleased with Robert. As we move forward, we’re having those discussions in terms of what we need to see, but again, to be fair to Robert, he’s young in his career in terms of his development as a quarterback. We will develop him over time, he’s under contract here for two years, but we don’t look at it as just a two-year venture or a week-to-week venture. This is something we’re going to have to stick by him, put the right pieces around him, and help him learn how to play that position as well. It’s not a short term look at him.”
- Some have criticized the Browns for the trade with Philadelphia. Some feel the Browns should have drafted Carson Wentz.
Brown had a chance to respond on Friday.
“I think both sides should be excited. They went out and got a quarterback that was highly touted that has a lot of ability and potential, and we were able to position ourselves to not only get a wide receiver we covet, but also acquire some additional draft picks and build for the future. As I’ve said before, it’s a decision that both franchises have to make. It was a fair trade, I think it was a good trade for both sides, and people love to judge them on the back end. The reality is you have to judge them at the time you make the decision. We felt good about it, Howie is a good friend, an excellent manager and leader of his team, and I’m excited to see what kind of player Carson develops into and what our side of the trade turns into.”
- The media actually asked a great question: What is the Browns’ philosophy to the bottom of the roster?
Brown’s answer reveals how the Browns will handle the turnover at the bottom of the roster.
“It’s a balance. We want to be aggressive and look at every opportunity we have to get a glance at a player or bring a player onto our roster. My anticipation is there will be opportunities we will take. At the same time, we have to be mindful of the coaching staff. The continuity is something we’ve lacked here overall and is a theme of what we want to do. But at the same time, there will be some opportunities with injuries and certain players coming across the wire here in the early part of the season. We will be high in the claiming order, so we plan to take advantage of that should opportunities arise.”
- Just like a good actor or comedian, Brown dropped a great one-liner about Paul Kruger, and the reason the Browns cut him.
“We made the decision on Krug based what we saw on the field, and I’ll leave it at that.”
- The last question of press conference was about tanking. Brown’s response started off as bland, but ended on an interesting note.
“The external noise is coming, and we’ll be there, whether we’re successful or not. We can’t let that bother us. Anybody who knows Hue, myself, Paul, Jimmy, others in the building know that wouldn’t be a part of anything we would embrace or be part of. I appreciate that folks have never seen a strategy quite like this before, but I would hardly call it tanking. I think our guys are going to go out and compete, and we’ll let the external voices be what they are.”
There you have it. Now, we wait until Sunday.
Author’s Note: My apologies for going ghost the last few weeks. I’ve been super busy at work, especially with the start of the school year. I’ll have the usual Talking Points article after Sunday night after the game.