Paul DePodesta goes under the MMQB spotlight

Dec 24, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (34) during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 24, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (34) during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Browns executive Paul DePodesta spoke with Monday Morning Quarterback and shared some insight into the team’s rebuilding efforts.

Paul DePodesta as been the Cleveland Browns chief strategy officer for a little more than a year now, but outside of the occasional press conference, he has mostly stayed in the shadows.

But that all changed today as he was the main spotlight of Peter King’s weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column.

King spent 40 minutes at the annual league meetings talking with DePodesta and came away with some nuggets of information that every Browns fan should read.

The biggest takeaway, perhaps, is that once DePodesta, executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown and head coach Hue Jackson took over, they quickly realized that fixing a team that been broken since 1999 was not going to be a easy task:

"“Again, that was a situation that we felt like we really do need to rebuild the foundation of this organization, and it is almost like redoing a house—you need to rip down all the walls and get it down to the studs. Now, when you do that and you tear out all the walls and the floors and all you have left are the studs, you look at it and go, wow this looks terrible. We never want to go through this again, and I think that is our attitude.”"

There has also been the ongoing narrative – from people who don’t understand or are afraid of what the Browns are doing – that “analytics” is something new and a computer, rather than people are running the team. DePodesta shut that down, however:

"“We are trying to develop things that ultimately will give us a competitive advantage and will get us back onto the landscape in terms of those competitive teams that are playing in January every year. So, I am hesitant to give away too much of what we’re trying to do. The other reason I think it’s hard is because it is really collective. We have a lot of people in our office who are very bright and have been around the game for a lot longer than I have, who had a lot of these ideas before I ever showed up.”"

In a similar vein, DePodesta gave just the slightest peek into what it is he actually does on a day-to-day basis:

"“I really focus on process as much as anything else: process for how we evaluate players, process for how we make decisions, process even for how we hire people internally, process for how we go about integrating our scouting reports with guys watching tape in the office. It is really about how we do the things we do. I think part of the reason they brought me in is because I am completely naive about the National Football League. I have no preconceived notions about how things ought to be done or how they have been done in the past, and I can look at it with a fresh set of eyes.”"

Overall, it is a very interesting article and well worth the time to read it. If nothing else, it humanizes DePodesta, who has been unfairly portrayed by some as an unthinking robot that simply plugs data into a computer and does whatever the machine tells him.

It should also help quiet all the nonsense about how the Browns are doing something radical and trying to reinvent the NFL by showing off how much smarter they are than everyone else.

Next: Browns draft profile: Malik McDowell

We’re not sure when or how being smart became a bad thing, but Browns fans should feel comfortable knowing that the people running the franchise are studying how smart teams operate and doing what they can to duplicate that success in Cleveland.