Cleveland Browns: The team that Sashi Brown built

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 20: Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 20: Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns announced the firing of Executive VP of Football Operations Sashi Brown. In his wake is a team others will get credit for building.

The Cleveland Browns announced the firing of Sashi Brown today with a brief statement from team owner Jimmy Haslam.

This announcement brings closure to an increasing division amongst Browns fans over who is to blame for the 1-27 record over the past two season – Hue Jackson or Sashi Brown?

Head coach Hue Jackson has been extremely vocal recently that the Browns record has been a result of a lack of talent provided by the front office. Jackson has worked hard to frame the discussion, along with help from a seemingly mindless media, as a division between “football people” versus “analytics people.”

Today Jimmy Haslam chose “football people.”

But this is a false dichotomy. The Browns record is a collaboration of the front office cleaning house to bring in players that would fit the head coach’s system.

Let’s face reality. The Browns have been bad for a long time. The still continuing merry-go-round of coaches and general managers created a situation where the roster was full of players that were drafted to play in multiple different systems.

The challenge Sashi faced was to try to make a lot of square pieces fit into round holes. Brown who, I assume, was told he was hired for the long haul, decided it would be best to clear house of all the misfit pieces that do not fit the current coaches’ scheme.

It was a move that was long overdue.

Nobody enjoyed watching players such as Barkevious Mingo, who was drafted to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, try his hand at outside linebacker with former head coach Mike Pettine and former defense coordinator Ray Horton.

Say what anyone will about Mitchell Schwartz, his style of play does not fit what Hue Jackson needs out of a right tackle. Shon Coleman is a much better option and fit for the Browns. Did anyone enjoy watching the Justin Gilbert experiment? That Browns got any value for some of these players is an amazing feat.

Sashi Brown had the vision, foresight and balls to do what “football people” could not. Brown set the Cleveland Browns in the right direction by letting people leave who did not fit the vision of the head coach moving forward.

The aftermath of the “Exodus from Berea” was a plethora of draft picks to be used to rebuild the Browns with players that did fit Hue Jackson’s system.

But Jimmy Haslam and Hue Jackson apparently did not have the stomach for the pain of moving the Titanic away from the iceberg.

Does anyone really believe the Browns would be better off by having the likes of Gilbert, Mingo, etc on the team now? Let me rephrase that, does anyone besides Hue Jackson believe the team would be better off with those players? How many victories did those players bring the Browns anyway?

Cleaning house means starting over. Hue Jackson’s complaint about a lack of talent can be seen as an opposition to starting over. But starting over with new players was done for the purpose of giving Jackson the talent he needs.

How is Sashi Brown supposed to rebuild the team once it has been torn down?

Cleveland has not been a free agent hot spot since long before Sashi Brown took over. Yet somehow he lured Jason McCourty, traded for and signed Jamie Collins, re-signed Christian Kirksey, re-signed Joel Bitonio. He upgraded the offensive line by signing J.C Tretter (anyone miss Cameron Erving right now?) and Kevin Zeitler.

Yet his record is not perfect. Every general manager misses on players. Terrelle Pryor might be having a better season were he in Cleveland right now. Several free agents simply refused to sign with the Browns even though they were offering more money than others. Wide receiver Kenny Britt seems to be the poster child for Sashi Brown’s misses.

The other place to build the Browns is through the draft. Every general manager has hits and misses in the draft. Sashi’s main issue seems to be his misses at the quarterback position. Even though Hue Jackson continues to support DeShone Kizer, it seems fans are unhappy with Kizer. There is a general clamoring over who the Browns should have taken instead of who they did take.

But the question must be asked, how does one best build a team? Does one take a QB first and then build around or does one build the team then add the quarterback? Or is this the chicken and the egg problem?

Sashi leveraged other teams’ irrational desire for a quarterback to gain picks to build a better Browns. Those other picks were used on players like Emmanuel Ogbah, Myles Garrett (who nobody seems upset about taking over Deshaun Watson), Larry Ogunjobi, David Njoku, Jabrill Peppers, etc.

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Sashi chose to put as much talent on the team as possible before taking the quarterback. And despite the comments of the head coach, other teams have noticed the abundance of talent on the Browns. Detroit Lions free safety Glover Quin recently stated that the Browns have more talent on their roster than 25 of 32 NFL teams.

But instead of seeing the talent, Jimmy Haslam and Hue Jackson focused on what the Browns did not have – the ever elusive “quick turnaround.”

What is lost in all of this is the amazing work Sashi Brown did in rebuilding the talent on this team. Brown did what needed to be done, he tore down an aging an expensive roster that needed overhauled. He replaced aging veterans with cheaper younger and arguably more talented players.

As long as Jimmy Haslam is looking for the quick turnaround, this team will never turn around. There are no quick fixes in the NFL. The Browns need a general manger with the guts to do what is necessary to right the ship.

Today that man was fired.

And now the “football people” will rush in to take the credit for all his hard work. They will be remembered for bringing the “quick turnaround” that Browns fans and Jimmy Haslam desire.

Next: Talking another 0-12 start in the DPD Podcast

But behind the scenes will be the true hero of Cleveland football. Sashi Brown is the general manager the Browns need but don’t deserve.