BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Please disperse, nothing to see here.
That was the tone set Monday afternoon by Cleveland Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, who presented a united front about the state of the team that appears dysfunctional and in disarray following a 1-23 start to their regime and a failed trade last week with Cincinnati.
Brown acknowledged that the first half of the season and their 0-8 start has been “disappointing” and although it is easy to “get lost in the losses, there have been some positives.”
Brown pointed to the positive contributions of free agents JC Tretter, Kevin Zeitler and Jason McCourty as well as progress made with several young players who are gaining valuable experience every week.
Brown declined to get into specifics of what went wrong last Tuesday but he dispelled the notion that he “sabotaged” the trade because head coach Hue Jackson was “in the room” and “witnessed” the proceedings. Brown blamed the failed trade on “a matter of getting to a deal too late in the process…we tried our damnedest to get it done..it just didn’t get done.”
Brown vehemently denied a bevy of national reports about the internal struggle between the coaching staff and front office and the 2 sides being at odds with each other.
“A lot of this stuff that has been said and written has been made up,” Brown said. He added that “it’s incumbent upon the leadership to come together.”
Brown also doesn’t fear the snafu, which was a complete embarrassment for the organization, will ultimately cost him his job.
“I don’t [worry about it costing me my job],” Brown said. “I think we’re in good communication with both Dee and Jimmy on these things and they’re well apprised of what we’re doing and why and how things come together. I think they’ve seen our track record in terms of being able to perform and pull off some of the more creative deals in the league and a host of just simple, straightforward transactions, whether they’re in season or on draft day.
“I don’t have that concern. I think they understand we’ve been as aggressive as any team trying to churn this roster and improve it.”
Quarterback – or lack of one – remains at the root of the Browns problems and the hallmark trade that epitomizes Brown’s tenure in charge of the football operations was the decision to trade down in 2016 with Philadelphia instead of picking Carson Wentz, who continues to win games and stuff box scores with touchdown passes weekly for the Eagles.
Then there was Deshaun Watson in Houston, who was re-writing the rookie record books prior to tearing his ACL last week in practice, but the Browns traded that pick to the Texans.
That’s 2 franchise quarterbacks and 2 trade downs after failing to recognize either one.
“I think whenever we look at an opportunity in the draft, first you come knowing that there are going to be opportunities that you miss on to add talent to your roster,” Brown said. “I think good organizations do go back and look at those decisions and those evaluations. What did we miss? We are perpetually doing that here internally. What is all of the information we had? How do we gather it? Was it accurate? How did we analyze the information and put it all together to make a decision? Some of those are more strategic and tactical, and some of those are purely in terms of the actual operational issue of evaluating the player.
“We look at it both ways. I think we have some really good processes in place. I am pleased with the guys that we have pulled out of the draft. I think that they are performing well almost to a man. At the end of the day, we always can get better and we will always look to get better certainly, including at the quarterback position, absolutely.”