CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Analytics are here to stay, not just in Cleveland, but the entire NFL. Unfortunately for Browns fans, their introduction to them was a guy named Sashi Brown who was at the helm of two drafts where the Browns refused to take really good quarterbacks and won only one game in two years. Fair or not, that’s what fans think of.
Paul DePodesta drives the team’s analytical arm. He is their Chief Strategy Officer, which frequently attracts questions like, “what do you do here?” Something he gets a chuckle from. “My kids ask me the same question because they want to tell people at school. What is it that you actually do?", he said. "I think my role really, first and foremost, is to not only help us create but also implement that shared vision and then ultimately make sure that we stick to it, really relentlessly and that is really my role.”
DePodesta answered several questions with a smile or a laugh on Tuesday. Like the one about if he ever actually goes to Berea? Or does he do most of his work from a computer on the other side of the country. “I have seen a report that I live in San Diego, Calif. I think my wife and kids would take issue with that characterization," he said with a chuckle. "Look, I have been here every week since the beginning of training camp.” The family still has a home and roots in San Diego. He does not live there full time.
These are questions you don’t normally ask NFL front office men, but DePodesta is not your typical front office man. Oh, every team has analytics departments, but they don’t have guys that are known as “The Moneyball Guy."
Some Browns fans have been livid over reading reports about how the team would have somebody from the analytics department on a headset during the game. Turns out, that is not unusual. “I think all 32 teams do that. In fact, there are a bunch of head coaches that say, ‘Hey, I am going to need a guy on a headset,’ and we were able to tell him, ‘Oh, we have got a guy, do not worry.’ I think some people are starting to realize what we are doing is really not out of the ordinary,” said DePodesta.
As for his role in the draft? “I am not going to pick the players," he said. “I am going to try to make sure the players we do pick, again, align with our vision of what we believe is a winning franchise.”
After two decades of losing, countless hirings and firings, 1-31, Sashi Brown, Freddie Kitchens and all the rest, Browns fans are skeptical. Turning the team into a winning franchise is the only thing that will win them over.