Today, the Browns got better. Today, the Browns put an end to this analytical dumpster fire. As Tony Grossi called it from day one “scamlytics” ( I think that is how you spell it.)
Despite a 1-27 record, some people believe that this was a bad move by the Browns. Some give Sashi credit for all the picks and cap space he acquired. There are people out there who think the Browns are dumb to fire Sashi year two into this new project. I am here to reassure all of you that this was the best thing the Browns have done. I am going to shut down all these myths and theories that Sashi Brown was good for the Browns.
Wentz and Watson would be bad with the Browns.
This is my favorite because it is so far from being right it makes my head hurt. The quarterback is by far and large the most important position in all of sports. I think it is pretty obvious – take a look around the league. Who are the best teams in the NFL? The ones with quarterbacks!! Name the last Super Bowl champion with a bad quarterback. You would have to go all the way back to 2002 with Brad Johnson and the Buccaneers or earlier in 2000 with Trent Dilfer and the Ravens. You could argue Peyton Manning’s Super Bowl win against the Panthers a couple years back. You have a point Manning’s play wasn’t up to par, but having him in that organization for years prior made the Broncos contenders and gave them playoff experience and you can’t underestimate just the presence Manning had in that locker room. Not to mention those teams had legendary defenses that you don’t build over night. Point being a quarterback can turn a franchise around. Would the Broncos have made two Super Bowls with Tim Tebow? I am going to go out on a limb and say no.
Let’s take a look at Wentz. Before the draft, Sashi Brown took it upon himself to tear down the roster and acquire draft picks and open up cap space to build a roster that the he and baseball guy Paul DePodesta felt fit. That meant letting Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz, Travis Benjamin and Tashaun Gipson walk in free agency and don’t forget that they cut Taylor Gabriel. If you remember the back to the 2016 offseason, Brown and DePodesta weren’t even ready for the beginning of free agency. Brown and DePodesta didn’t even negotiate with said players who eventually walked. You could have at least tried, you could have been prepared for one of the biggest days of the year and at least attempt to negotiate with those players. You would have the right tackle position solved, which still is a hole on this roster. You could have signed Benjamin and not cut Gabriel and paired him with Gordon. The safety position still is a weakness on this team and you could have that solved with Gipson, but instead you weren’t even prepared to negotiate.
Wentz could have a roster with guys to make him better; they could have acquired another wide receiver to compliment Wentz. Sort of like what the Eagles did this year when they traded for Alshon Jeffery or what the Rams did with Sammy Watkins or what the Bills did with Kelvin Benjamin.
Point being – looking at the current roster and saying how neither of them would have worked out is not the way to look at it. Look at the big picture, look at what all Sashi did to make this roster a disaster. If he didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, the Browns would have a roster for Wentz or Watson. But instead, we have no quarterback and a bunch of very average players.
Which leads to my next point.
Look at all the draft picks and cap space.
Yes, Sashi acquired a cornucopia of draft picks and plenty of cap space to use. Here is the problem. He acquired a bunch of draft picks by trading out of the number two pick to draft Corey Coleman. Instead of Wentz, Joey Bosa or Ezekiel Elliot, we have draft picks and an average receiver who can’t stay healthy. We traded out of the 12 spot to acquire more draft picks and Jabrill Peppers who is playing centerfield and not in his normal position. We could have had Malik Hooker, Reuben Foster, or hell, Deshaun Watson, but instead we have a guy who played mostly up near the line of scrimmage in college and figured we’d stick him in Lake Erie so he can’t give up big plays. Do you catch my drift? We have drafted very mediocre talent to acquire more draft picks when he could have had the talent from the beginning.
Sashi wasn’t fit to go through another draft, depending how the season ends, the Browns could own two top-10 picks and the last thing that we needed was him to trade down to acquire more draft picks and mediocre players. When you have a ton of mediocre players on the roster, at best you will get mediocre or worse results in return. It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure that equation out.
On to the cap space. Cap space is useful if you are willing to spend it. The Browns were not willing to use their cap space and spend it on Terrelle Pryor who was actually a smart investment for the Browns. They cold have franchised tagged him and watched how he would develop this season and see if he was worth to invest even more money. Instead, they over payed for Kenny Britt.
Kenny Britt is a perfect example of why having a ton of cap space with a terrible team doesn’t always equal winning results. You can have a ton of cap space and you can promise to pay a guy more than the opposition, but players want to go to a winning situation. They don’t want to go 1-27 because losing sucks and if they do come to just get paid you probably are going to get crap on your return. Example – Kenny Britt. The Browns have a ton of cap space again this offseason, but if they don’t make the destination attractive, all they have is a ton of cap space that they will use overpaying average players.
The trades they missed out on.
While we are picking apart this failed experiment, let’s take a trip back to the trade deadline and look at what the Browns missed out on.
One thing that has been impressive about the Browns is their ability to always give brand new meaning to rock bottom. This was put on display at the trade deadline, when most notably they were unable to get a deal done with New England to get Jimmy Garoppolo. The Browns have all these assets that Sashi was so good at getting, yet he was unable to pull the trigger and give up a first or second rounder to get Garoppolo. San Francisco gave up only a second-round pick to get Garoppolo. The Browns have three picks in the second round and also two picks in the first. If they really wanted to get Garoppolo, they had plenty of firepower to get the deal done.
Kelvin Benjamin was dealt to the Bills for a third and a seventh round pick. The Browns only own one pick in each of those rounds, but I am sure they could have parted ways with those picks realizing they have six picks total in rounds 4-6.
The dumpster fire could have at least been tamed if you go through with these trades. You have a young qb to build around, you add a young receiver, you now at least have something to build around. Instead, you keep everything the same.
Do I need to explain the failed AJ McCarron trade? Just embarrassing all around. The fact the Browns were trying to trade for McCarron and the fact no one was competent enough to complete the trade.
I made fun of Ray Farmer all the time for him devaluing the wide receiver position. I thought it was absurd that he could watch guys like Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. and think he didn’t put the receiver position as a top priority. The Browns drafted five wide outs in the 2016 draft and the receiving corps is worse than what it was when they had a GM who didn’t think it was important.
Farmer devalued the receiver position, but this regime devalued the most valuable position in sports. The Browns passed on Wentz and Watson and were scared to pull the trigger on Garoppolo and relaxed on a trade for AJ McCarron. They for some reason felt it was best to cut corners. They drafted Cody Kessler and Deshone Kizer, who had some bright spots, but had glaring weaknesses. Kessler didn’t have an arm and it showed in sunny Southern California. Kizer held the ball too long and was inconsistent at Notre Dame. They ignored these things in hopes they could just figure it out. They decided to take on Brock Osweiler’s salary and then cut him and pay him to play for the Broncos.
The Browns need a quarterback and they won’t be good until they find one. My dad once told me that if you wait to have kids until you can afford them you are never going to have them. The same is for quarterbacks. If you are trying to wait for the perfect prospect or the perfect time you are never going to get one. Stop waiting around, stop waiting for the perfect time and draft a quarterback.
The one thing the Browns have always had is a loyal and optimistic fan base, but after going 1-27, the optimism seems to be lost. The stadium is mostly empty and the seats that are taken are filled with opposing team’s fans. This fan base is worn out and doesn’t have time for a five-year plan like Sashi wanted. Losses have real-life consequences. This isn’t a video game where you can shrug off a loss and move to the next one. Losing wears on coaches, players and fans. This plan was put together as if everyone was supposed to accept losses
Hue Jackson is supposedly staying for next year. Hue deserves blame for this disaster as well. You don’t go 1-27 because of one person. I don’t believe Hue will be back next year. but it all depends on who the new GM wants.
Finally, this all goes on Jimmy and Dee Haslam. This experiment was their idea and it has blown up in their face. Good for them for stopping this thing when they did, but they deserve all the blame for thinking this was a good idea to begin with. When the Haslam family bought the team, it brought newfound hope. But all they have done is run this once proud franchise further into the ground. This hire will be their biggest hire because the fans patience is laser thin.
Follow the author: @Wltyrrell2
Photos: Browns.com, ESPN