In lieu of “wow’s” the Browns give us vows.
The two latest:
Chris Kirksey vows that the team will not lose all of its games.
Cam Erving vows not to get thrown out of any more games.
Those are the two most telling current snapshots on this train wreck season that has devolved into a referendum on whether the Browns’ version of analytics-driven gridiron team building can be made to work on this particular team, by this specific group of numbers crunchers.
So far, the results and the win total are identical. They are both non-existent. It’s
The Browns’ analytics-driven product looks even worse than the throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-how-much-of-it-sticks approach propagated by the previous five or six (I’ve lost count) failed regimes.
This slog of a season has passed the halfway point, and every NFL team has won at least one game. Except for the Browns. They have won none, convincingly. Their next chance comes tonight, in Baltimore, where the following applies:
The visiting team is 0-9, riddled with injuries, with an easy-to-riddle defense, playing on the road, on a short work week.
Translation: oh, the humanity.
At this point, the Browns’ best chance at a victory would be to play an intrasquad game, which, come to think of it, tonight’s game sort of is, given that the Ravens used to be the Browns, back in the 1990s, which was the last time the Browns were a functioning, relevant NFL franchise.
Since then the Browns have been mostly dysfunctional and wholly irrelevant, which is the very definition of an 0-9 team, whose season has jumped so far off the tracks that the battle cry now is the very definition of pathetic:
We’re not going to lose them all!
Well, maybe, maybe not.
They are going to play them all, however, and now would be a good time to mix in a win or two along the way. You know, just to give the appearance that some of these murky team-building formulas are working.
Because so far, the early returns on the Browns’ cutting-edge, analytics-armed think tank troops look a lot like the Holmgren years, minus those little drinks with the umbrellas in it.
Carson Wentz? No thanks.
Dak Prescott? Nope, we’re good.
Combined record as starting quarterbacks for the Browns of Josh McCown and Cody Kessler: 1-15.
What are the basic tenants of the analytics approach to football team building? They are far too complicated to go into here. They are also far too unknown to go into here. It’s football’s Manhattan Project. What do I look like, Amos Alonzo Oppenheimer?
We commoners, however, do have one way of judging the effectiveness of analytics in football. It’s called the won-loss column. Perhaps you’ve heard of it _ and heard of this: the Browns are 0-9.
You don’t need to be Dr. Algorithm to know that’s not a very good record. Maybe whatever magical formulas the Browns’ brains have cooked up are the wrong ones, or the right ones that just haven’t kicked in yet.
Either way, 0-9 is 0-9, and that flunks the eye-test.
Other decisions pass the head scratching test, such as letting Pro Bowl caliber offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz leave as a free agent, apparently just because, then, a few months later, trading for pro bowl linebacker Jamie Collins. Both are 27 years old. So a few months ago the Browns wanted to go REALLY young, and now, not so much?
Here’s the thing about where the Browns are now. When coach Hue Jackson said “trust me on this” when they head-scratchingly drafted Kessler, he was invoking a phrase the analytics gang leans on.
Theirs is a “trust us” business.
They would prefer if we all just wait and judge the decision making a couple years down the road. What seems inexplicable now may reveal itself to be explicable two years from now. Or maybe not.
In the meantime, the Browns are 0-9, headed for 0-10, with a possible final destination of 0-16. This is progress?
It is if the Browns make the playoffs next year, or the year after that. But we have no way of knowing that now. All we know now is that these Browns have a chance to be the worst team in franchise history, perhaps even in NFL history.
It’s the kind of season that the hair-trigger Haslam family has historically reacted to by cleaning house. They’ve done it in three of the four years they’ve owned the team.
What can we expect if the Browns go 0-16?
By hitching their wagon to an analytics-based front office, the Haslams necessarily committed to a period of patience, no matter how bad or how ugly it gets.
This is really bad and very ugly. But abandoning a philosophy after one year would point the guilty finger squarely at the Haslams, not at those let go.
Email Jim Ingraham at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jim_Ingraham.
Jim Ingraham: Browns' new analytic regime producing same losing results
In lieu of “wow’s” the Browns give us vows.
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