Here’s Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown on Friday, shortly after the team traded 2013 sixth-overall pick Barkevious Mingo to the Patriots, about whether the team is unloading dead weight, and tanking the season in the process:
“I think if anybody has been around our facility, they’d know how silly that is,” he said, via ESPN.com. “We want to win. Our expectations are, just because we have a younger roster, doesn’t mean that we’re at all trying to lose, I guess.”
Brown continued: “We would be very disappointed if we have four wins. That said, I think we’re not going to measure our success just in terms of wins. We’re realistic with where our roster is in terms of a proven roster that’s capable of winning.”
Brown is part of a new analytics-based front office that includes former Major League Baseball general manager Paul DePodesta. And coach Hue Jackson was hired to find a quarterback for the first time since the team returned to Cleveland in 1999. If nothing else, owner Jimmy Haslam finally seems to understand that he needs to let the football people do their jobs without fear of being fired every offseason. And that might explain these comments from the beginning of training camp.
“Our expectations are, just because we have a younger roster, doesn’t mean that we’re at all trying to lose, I guess.”Sashi Brown
“We could win four or five games and feel good about things or we could win eight,” Haslam said at the time. “We’ll all know when we stand here on Jan. 1st if we’re improving. We’re going to have a young team.”
The implication isn’t that Haslam is resigned to losing (the Browns haven’t had a winning record since he took over in 2012) but that salvaging this mess takes time. It’s why he prefaced the “four or five wins” comment with this:
“I can’t guarantee we’re going to have a winning season after going 3-13. I know we’ll be a better football team, and we’re directionally correct. These guys will work hard and play hard, and our fans will appreciate that. (But) we have a long way to go. … I don’t want to go there,” Haslam said, when asked to speculate on how many wins the Browns could have in 2016. “That’s one of those trick, gotcha questions.”
So yes, Haslam is responsible for the team’s current predicament, but Jackson, Brown et al are tasked with fixing it. That means, among other things, dumping those players who haven’t worked out (take Mingo, for example), even if their draft pedigree suggests otherwise. Whatever happens, and whoever is on the 53-man roster when it does, this much is certain: The Browns aren’t tanking the season.
“If that’s the perception, I would say that’s laughable and I think we’re all competitive guys,” Brown explained. “We understand that part of what we need to do is build a winning culture here, and everything that we’ve talked about and worked towards is aimed at winning and there are no seasons off or, for us even, reps off.”
It’s why Josh Gordon isn’t going anywhere, despite recent rumors that the Browns were trying to trade the just-reinstated wide receiver.
“We see Josh as a great weapon for our offense,” Brown said. “He’s still working himself back into shape. He’s done a good job getting on top of the playbook. He’s kind of come back in and I think even to his surprise feels much like a veteran in the room to some of the younger receivers.”
The hope is the Gordon will also make life eminently easier for quarterback Robert Griffin III, who is trying to reinvent himself in Cleveland, which is ironic since Cleveland is where quarterback careers go to die.
But hey, maybe this is the year!
Browns starting quarterback jersey list retired after Cavs championship to promote a new beginning in Cleveland! pic.twitter.com/7Ey5iCAwvp
— Cleveland SportsTalk (@CLEsportsTalk) June 21, 2016
Source: CBS Sports / Browns VP: Talk of tanking ‘silly’ and would be ‘disappointed if we have four wins’