Gregg Williams gets it when it comes to the Browns and analytics

(Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images) /

Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is as old school as they come. But even he understands the need for analytics.

The Cleveland Browns introduced Sashi Brown as the team’s executive vice president of football operations shortly after owner Jimmy Haslam cleaned house in January of 2016.

It only took the media, old school “football guys” and some fans about five minutes to start bleating about “analytics,” “spreadsheets” and how “computers” will be running the franchise.

We’ve covered in detail in this space how the Browns are simply doing what teams like the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers have already been doing all along. But, to hear some tell it, Skynet had taken over the Browns.

Related: Frank Ryan brought analytics to town in the 1960s

We are now in the second year of the current rebuilding efforts and, while it has gotten better, the noise around the Browns continues. Some of that has to do with the team sitting at 1-21 since Brown and Co. took over, but it also comes from this irrational fear from people like Bill Polian, a former general manager with the Indianapolis Colts, that the Browns have found a better way to build a team.

That is why it was refreshing to hear what defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had to say on Friday about the use of analytics with the Browns and around the NFL. Williams has been in the league since 1997 and no one would ever accuse him of being new age.

But when asked during a media session about using analytics as a tool to help evaluate players, Williams offered an answer that is a great life lesson, according to

"“Seriously, I have a goal every single day that I don’t walk off the field without learning something new. I have a goal in life that I don’t lay my head on my pillow at night if there is one other thing that I can do to be productive. I am always looking for different ways, and if we don’t adapt … The game has changed so much. I have to stay on top of all of those things. I have to be able to change. I have to be able to understand if there is something else that can help us, yes.”"

The biggest takeaway is the comment about how the game has changed. What might have worked when Ernie Accorsi was general manager of the Browns in the 1980s doesn’t necessarily work today. And if there is a piece of measurable data that a front office or a coaching staff can use to gain an advantage, they would be foolish not to search it out and use it.

It is worth repeating because there are many who still don’t get it. What the Browns are doing is not revolutionary or something that successful teams are not already doing. If anything, people should be questioning what took the Browns so long to start figuring this out.

Using analytics as a tool to build a team is also not new to Cleveland, as Bill Belichick used them when he was coaching the team in the 1990s and a strong argument can be made the Paul Brown used analytics while building the league’s greatest dynasty in the 1950s, even if no one used the word analytics back then.

Next: Browns: 3 keys to understanding use of analytics

If an old school coach like Williams can appreciate the value of analytics and the importance of being able to adapt to the modern game, maybe there is hope that everyone else will catch on before it is too late.