Sashi Brown shuts down talk of Cleveland Browns tanking in 2016
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns may be in for a rough year, but Sashi Brown says that the rebuilding plan does not included tanking.
The Cleveland Browns approach to rebuilding the team has made headlines from the moment that owner Jimmy Haslam installed Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta as the lead players in the front office.
Established NFL types have been afraid of the team’s analytics-based method to fix the problems that have plagued the franchise since 1999. In addition, the media has perpetuated the confusion by not making an attempt to understand and explain just what the Browns are up to, preferring to just say “analytics” to explain every move the team makes.
As the Browns prepare to open the season on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, the idea that the Browns are “tanking” this season has taken hold. After all, the team kept 13 of its league-high 14 draft picks and have a preponderance of second-year players on the roster, so we may as well just fast-forward to the 2017 season.
“We’re realistic with where our roster is, but we go into every game with the mindset that we will win the game.” – Sashi Brown
Brown took to the podium on Friday to explain, again, that the Browns are firmly working on the former and have no time for the latter.
“The external noise we know is coming and will be there, whether we’re successful or not, and we can’t let that bother us,” Brown said, according to ohio.com. “But I think anybody who knows Hue [Jackson], myself, Paul [DePodesta], [owner] Jimmy [Haslam], others in the building, know that that just wouldn’t be part of anything we would embrace or be part of.
“So we appreciate that folks have not 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.”
Of course, there is a difference between accepting that the rebuilding process may be difficult and intentionally building a roster to lose games.
“We’re looking at 2016 and for us it’s about finding that nucleus of young talent that we can bring in,” Brown explained. “We stepped back at the end of last year and had to make some hard decisions about where our roster was coming off a 3-13 season and we’re confident that the guys [who] are coming, and 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 to from their coaches.”
From the moment they took over, Brown and head coach Hue Jackson have worked to clean out the mistakes of the previous regimes and used this year’s draft to, as Brown said, reset the team’s foundation.
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Not all of the picks will be winners, but if Corey Coleman and Emmanuel Ogbah turn into Pro Bowlers, and Joe Schobert, Rashard Higgins and Spencer Drango, just to name a few, develop into solid contributors, then the Browns are set up to use the 2017 NFL Draft to push the franchise forward in a major way.
If the Browns somehow win six or seven games this fall, there won’t be any cries of anguish coming out of Berea. And if the season comes to a close and the final record is 2-14, but several of the young players show improvement, there won’t be any panic, either.
There is plain losing – which the Browns have perfected over the past two decades – and losing that is a byproduct of a bigger plan – which is what the current plan is embracing.
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It may be hard to take at times, especially this fall, but if things work out then the Browns may be on the brink of the end of the beginning of a rebuilding process that has been going on since 1999.