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Let’s look at the Browns’ Guardrails from the analytics team

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“No uncoordinated leaks.”

This is a fun follow-up to the ESPN piece from this morning talking about the chaos on the Cleveland Browns under Jimmy Haslam’s watch. After Sashi Brown was hired, part of ESPN’s article mentioned a list of goals that the analytics group had, titled “Browns Guardrails.”

The analytics group authored a color-coded list of goals, labeled “Browns Guardrails.” It consisted of nine tenets, from talent retention, to ending uncoordinated leaks, to communicating more with coaches, to accumulating as many draft picks as possible, especially high second-rounders. Left unsaid in the document was the most important goal: The Browns had to stick together. This is like a roller coaster, the analytics contingent would tell Haslam. He couldn’t get off in the middle of the ride.

Seth Wickersham, the author of the piece, ended up tweeting out the following snapshot of those Guardrails:

The top of the document starts with a quote from Paul DePodesta, which reads, “Constantly questioning the efficacy of your belief system and trying to uncover value where it’s not readily apparent.” If the timeline of ESPN’s article is right, then these Guardrails first came out in 2016 during the Sashi Brown era. Among the important bullet points:

  • Don’t pay for depth in free agency, and build your roster so you rely on free agency less and less over time.
  • In the draft, don’t draft a “red” over a “blue” player, accumulate as many picks as possible (especially in the first two rounds), and accumulative future picks due to the high discounted rate on them.
  • For talent retention, it was emphasized to “play younger guys to determine what the team has,” pay players early on, and make the facility a great place for players to like.
  • Competitive advantages included analytics, psychology and information gathering, sports science, and not operating in a silo.
  • With the salary cap, flexibility needed to be maintained until a franchise quarterback was established. Also, contracts should be set up so that the team can exit them after year two with no dead money, if necessary.
  • “No uncoordinated leaks.”

Presumably, the Guardrails document doesn’t exist under John Dorsey. That’s not to say the principles aren’t in practice, as much of them should be common to all NFL teams.