Don’t Go Overboard on Browns Analytics

Since the Cleveland Browns made their moves last Sunday night, they have been the fodder for many jokes about their new “analytical” way of looking at football.

It didn’t help when they hired Paul DePodesta, a former baseball general manager with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

We aren’t saying that DePodesta is a bad hire, because by all accounts he is a very smart man, and certainly can be viewed upon as a man who knows something about being in good organizations.

No, the problem is that he was portrayed in the movie “Moneyball”, by Jonah Hill.  That lead to a great number of jokes.

And while we would love to see a guy with success in the football business as the guy in charge of the organization, we don’t think the Browns will be run by people looking at minute statistical details.

Most of the numbers they will look at will just make sense, just as Bill James’ number crunching did when he came out with Baseball Abstract.

The analytics in drafting players may be used to show there is a better chance that a player coming out of a major conference is more apt to succeed in the NFL than a player out of a small college.

They could show what we have looked at earlier in this season, that team who can run the ball and can stop the run have better success in today’s professional football, even though it is dominated by the pass, than team who can do neither well.

It may also tell them you can’t try one running play in a half, like the Browns did in the first game against Cincinnati this year.

It will probably involve other more subtle things as well, but the numbers will be used to create a competitive advantage for the Browns’ coaching staff.

We can all agree they could use that.

The problem could be finding a coach and GM who is open to getting those numbers and understanding what they mean.  That could cause the Browns to lose out on some coaches we would like to see here.

We have said before that we want someone with head coaching experience, and that person needs to be a tough-minded individual that will change the country club atmosphere that has permeated Berea.

Cleveland has hired several “player’s coaches” in a row.  Mike Pettine, Rob Chudzinski, and Pat Shurmur would all be described that way, and that is too many to hold the job consecutively.

It’s time to bring in someone who will demand accountability, and who coaches like this is their last chance to handle the reins of an NFL team.

The other thing we think the analytics will show is the Browns need more draft choices, and as many high ones, as they can get to rebuild the roster quickly.

Our guess is that several of the veterans who have been here the last two seasons, will not be back.

If you are over 30 years old, we wouldn’t be too comfortable this off-season.

And we are fine with that.  As we always say, the only thing worse than being bad is being bad and old.

You don’t need to be someone who studies numbers to know that is a bad combination.

JD

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