Saturday, January 23, 2016

Putting an amateur in charge is wrong move

So far, so good with Hue Jackson’s molding of his coaching staff.

Next up, selecting a player personnel chief (technically vice president of personnel), an exercise hampered by the dictum that newly minted executive vice president/football operations Sashi Brown is solely in charge of the 53-man roster.

Whoever nails the personnel job is certain to be someone who is either young and upcoming with designs on some day being a general manager or a veteran personnel man who is either recently unemployed or looking to move sideways.

Therein lies a big problem. No, make that a huge problem.

The Browns will operate this season without a general manager. As a rule, GMs around the National Football League have sole control of the 53-man roster and are in charge of the college football draft.

That role now will be filled by Brown, the team’s general counsel and salary cap specialist before being bumped higher in the ivory tower. Hardly qualifications for such an important job.

Someone who does not have a football background should not handle the look of the roster, which will be liquid throughout the season. That’s courting disaster. Brown, at least according to his job description, has the final say in all personnel decisions.

“This is my 12th season coming up,” he said. “I’ve been involved in a lot of decisions in terms of how you build a roster. We think that’s as strategic as it is important to have the evaluations of players. That’s the strength I bring in terms of strategy of it.”

Basically, Brown will perform the duties of a general manager when it comes to shaping the roster, relying on the opinions of coaches, player personnel people and his own observations.

“That really is my role to bring all the information together and make the best strategic decision each and every time,” Brown said. “That’s going to mean . . . only in part . . . using analytics but largely based on talent evaluation.”

So what experience in evaluating that talent does he bring to his new job? None really except maybe gleaning a tidbit or two from conversations with those far more knowledgeable in what to look for in evaluating players.

He believes studying more film will help, as well as leaning on the opinions of the coaching and scouting staffs. All well and good except for one very important problem.

Let’s say, for example, the coaching staff bends one way on a certain player or players and the scouting crew bends another. Who breaks the tie?

Frankly, I’d much rather have someone who has been in a position previously to make such important decisions than someone who is a comparative rookie, someone whose knowledge of the game barely scratches the surface.

It’s understandable that owner Jimmy Haslam III appreciated the work of Brown over the years and wanted to reward him. But to put him in charge of the most important aspect of the team is inviting a mountain of trouble.

Disagreements within the organization will start almost immediately when free-agent season begins, continue into the spring with the college draft and morph into minicamps, training camp and well beyond.

In those rare moments when all sides agree, Brown can kick back and enjoy the fruits of his job. But when philosophical fights break out between stubborn football people, and you can be certain they will, who breaks the tie?

Not Haslam. He’s already had his mulligan with the massive mistake on Johnny Manziel. No, breaking that tie will be Brown, an attorney who probably feels more comfortable in a courtroom than he does making important personnel decisions for a professional football team.

The losers of those squabbles will harbor anger, closeted and otherwise. You can bet most of the blame will be placed on someone who has never been in a position to overrule those who have been in the game much longer and have a greater understanding of what it takes to build a strong roster.

Brown counters that notion. “The one thing people will say about me is I do work across departments well and I’ll be able to keep them aligned strategically and get a consensus and the best possible decisions,” he said.

Good luck, Sashi. You have no idea of the problems that lie ahead.


  1. I wondered how long it would take you to lose the optimism.

  2. And your optimism has fully returned?

    Have I disappointed you or confirmed your suspicions?

    My only excuse is I can't help myself. I'm just wired that way. You know I'm a half-empty guy.

  3. My optimism returns every year. If it didn't, I would have changed teams years ago.

  4. It's sorta like Groundhog Day, no?

  5. Wash, rinse, repeat.

  6. That's a dangerous formula, especially for rabid Browns fans.

  7. But its the hand we've been dealt since 1999.

  8. And that is the problem. It's been the wrong hand for 17 years running and a good bet to reach at least 18.

    1. Ahh, there you go again. I knew it was too good to last!