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Do the Browns have a staff infection?

Cleveland’s front office has added to its stockpile of bright minds on staff. They hired as an advisor, Chris Polian: a career executive, most recently director of pro personnel for the Washington Commanders.

Browns GM Andrew Berry was hired as a scouting assistant for Indianapolis while Polian was the Colts’ vice president and general manager (2009-11). Polian went on to Atlanta and Jacksonville before Washington, while Berry came to Cleveland from Indy, and after a brief stint as the Eagles’ VP of football ops (2019), became the Browns’ “general manager & executive vice president of football operations.”

Whether the Browns make intelligent organizational decisions is certainly debatable, but any assertion that they don’t have a whole floor of intelligent folks in the building is not one having merit. It can easily be argued though that Paul DePodesta, officially “chief strategy officer” hired to bring his Moneyball-style analytics approach to the NFL, has been less than adequate in his ability to apply the system to Cleveland football.

DePodesta’s influence is somewhat nebulous, but he clearly has the ear of ownership. While the Browns have cleaned house more than once since his hiring in 2016, DePodesta has survived like the lone mobile home still standing upright and seemingly untouched after a series of tornados have annihilated the rest of the trailer park.

Here are some of the people DePodesta has outlasted with the franchise: Sashi Brown, president of the Baltimore Ravens (13-4 with the league’s best record in 2023, made the AFC Championship game); John Dorsey, senior personnel executive for the Detroit Lions (12-5 in 2023, made the NFC Championship game); Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, general manager of the Minnesota Vikings (13-4 in 2022, won the NFC North).

Here are a few others — looking only, for instance, at 2014 alone — the Browns have let get away in the past: Kyle Shanahan, head coach of the two-time NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers who also reached a Super Bowl as the OC of the Falcons two years after Cleveland opted to lean into Mike Pettine as the future; Mike McDaniel, head coach of the Miami Dolphins who had the NFL’s No. 1 offense in 2023; Mike LaFleur, offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, has been to two Super Bowls as an assistant and is likely a top candidate for head coaching jobs after this year. For context, the Browns went 7-9 in 2014: a season sandwiched between 4-12 and 3-13.

Without question the Browns have improved considerably in how they do business and how they operate as an organization, and, obviously, how they perform on the field. It’s also very apparent that they’ve assembled an executive team with an academic brilliance that shines like a thousand quasars aimed into your skylight.

As fans of the Cleveland Browns, we all hope they will persist in making strides toward continued relevance and competitive viability. And getting the most out of the front office and the coaching staff would be excellent steps in becoming a model of efficaciousness and consistency the rest of the league can envy.



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