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  • The Cleveland Browns

    Even Siri is making fun of the Browns
    By Dan Labbe, on March 16, 2016

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- It has been a rough few months (Years? Decades?) for the Cleveland Browns. A quiet approach in free agency -- even if that approach might be the right one -- hasn't helped.

    It's gotten so bad that Siri, Apple's digital personal assistant, is taking shots at the team. Thanks to the magic (and creepiness) of location services, simply being in Cleveland and saying "sadness" to Siri brings up directions to FirstEnergy Stadium. You can also ask Siri where the Factory of Sadness is and get the same result.

    The voice of Google Maps was unavailable for comment.

    This is what people in Cleveland get when they ask Siri about sadness.
    If you're not following the Astros, you are doing Houston sports wrong.

  • #2
    Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
    "Players treat the Browns organization like it's a college experience -- four years and done."

    Cleveland had about 7 plus players before free agency began, and 4 left for other teams.

    I don't think I've seen the type of dismantling they're doing there now. The DePodesta Moneyball plan is to accumulate lots of draft picks and build through those.

    Going to be an interesting ride. Hopefully they're not just restoking the boiler room fires of The Factory Of Sadness.
    If you're not following the Astros, you are doing Houston sports wrong.


    • #3
      Mary Kay Cabot ‏@MaryKayCabot
      #Browns have released safety Donte Whitner
      DonteHitner ‏@DonteWhitner
      I just wish they had common courtesy and would've done it weeks ago when free agency was going on... #25thHour... But I'll bounce back!

      Love you Cleveland. My plan is in a different place. Their playing MONEYBALL now! Be blessed!

      Not how you treat your players, especially a local guy.
      If you're not following the Astros, you are doing Houston sports wrong.


      • #4
        Originally posted by OB4me View Post
        Mary Kay Cabot ‏@MaryKayCabot
        DonteHitner ‏@DonteWhitner

        Not how you treat your players, especially a local guy.
        Texans sign Donte Whitner?
        `A`ohe lokomaika`i i nele i ke pāna`i.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Alpha View Post
          Texans sign Donte Whitner?
          Wouldn't be a bad idea, I miss the hard hitting days of Pollard and then Manning.


          • #6
            Cleveland reminds me how hard it is to start a new franchise in this league. Since they kept the history of the Browns, people forget they are only a few years older than the Texans.

            Had our second coach & GM been as incompetent as Capers & Casserly, we'd be just like the Browns. I'm glad he's gone, but I do appreciate what Kubiak was able to do here.

            The Jaguars remind me how hard it is to maintain a level of success. They were a pretty good team before they created the AFCSouth. They were going toe to toe with Pittsburgh for the AFC Central. Now... not so much.

            2016 is a big year for the Texans. If we get it right, we can set ourselves up as the team to beat for years to come. Because while the Jags & Titans are making strides, Indy is at that precipice of becoming a bad team. Think San Francisco in 2002. It took them 10 years to recover from Mariucci, York, Garcia, & Owens.


            • #7
              Browns fire 6 scouts... 3 weeks before the 2016 draft.

              This is something other teams do after the draft.
              If you're not following the Astros, you are doing Houston sports wrong.


              • #8
                'I thought he was a genius until he agreed to work for the Browns'
                David Fleming|ESPN Senior Writer

                NFL SCOUTING REPORT

                Name: Paul DePodesta
                Age: 43
                Height/weight: 5-foot-9, 165 pounds
                Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia
                College: Harvard, 1995 (economics, *** laude)
                Previous position: VP of player development and amateur scouting, New York Mets
                Football experience: 1992-94 Harvard, wide receiver; 1995 Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League, unpaid intern, duties included operating T-shirt cannon
                Bench: 225 lbs. @ < 0 reps
                Evaluated by: More than a dozen analytics experts from across the sports landscape


                BASIS OF WHAT DePodesta and Browns are attempting not new. Majority of NFL teams begrudgingly use analytics without fully embracing concept. Besides scouting and drafting, teams employ analytics to weigh trades, allot practice time, call plays (example: evolving mindset regarding fourth downs) and manage clock. What will differentiate DePodesta and Cleveland is extent to which Browns use data science to influence decision-making. DePodesta would like decisions to be informed by 60 percent data, 40 percent scouting. Present-day NFL is more 70 percent scouting and 30 percent data. DePodesta won't just ponder scouts' performance but question their very existence. Will likewise flip burden of proof on all football processes, models and systems. Objective data regarding, say, a player's size and his performance metrics -- example: Defensive ends must have arm length of at least 33∏ inches -- will dictate decision-making. Football staff will then have to produce overwhelming subjective argument to overrule or disprove analytics. "It's usually the other way around," states member of AFC team's analytics staff. "I'm jealous, to be honest. I was hoping we'd be the first to do this, but the Browns are beating everyone to the punch. Only question is how much of a tie-yourself-to-the-mast mentality will they have, and for how long?"

                RED FLAGS

                SECURING FUTURE OF analytics in football will require massive amounts of talent, patience and intellectual ingenuity from franchise notoriously devoid of all three. At MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in March, unilateral fear existed inside analytics community that systemic ineptitude of Browns franchise will be too substantial for even DePodesta to repair. Failure would damage legacy of beloved industry pioneer and set field of sports data science back decades. "If you love analytics and want it to grow and succeed in the NFL, then you know Cleveland is a nightmare scenario," states NFL executive with 20 years of experience in analytics. "Cleveland is a crazy, terrible place for this to be tested in football."

                BACKGROUND (COLLEGE)

                RECRUITED TO HARVARD
                in 1991 as shortstop, center fielder, pitcher. Played baseball for Crimson, one year. Injury to throwing shoulder forced him to quit baseball and switch to football, first love since fifth grade, according to associates. "Always been a football guy, deep down," confirms longtime Harvard coach Tim Murphy. Majored in economics with emphasis in psychology. Was once concerned about being labeled "dumb jock" at Harvard. To combat that image, wore button-down shirts, khakis and glasses (instead of contacts) in classroom. Worry about image unfounded. Despite running precise pass routes that former Harvard teammates state could have been measured with protractor, DePodesta failed to record single receiving stat in entirety of Crimson football career. "I got into baseball, and everyone just started calling me a geek, like, 'There's the nerd from Harvard,'" DePodesta stated at Sloan. "Then it took 20 years of working in baseball and me actually leaving and going to football for people to say, 'He's the baseball guy.' So maybe at some point I'll be known as a football guy too."

                BACKGROUND (MLB)

                AFTER CFL INTERNSHIP, started front office career with Indians in 1996; by the next year was advance scout. Using data, began to question game's processes and implicit assumptions about everything, especially inherent, yet undetected, flaws in decision-making. (Example: Scouts give excessive weight to a player's most recent performance in predicting future performance.) November 1998, age 25, hired away from Indians by Oakland GM Billy Beane. Despite minuscule payroll, analytic approach lifted A's to four straight playoffs (but no championships) while inspiring Moneyball book and movie. Played by Jonah Hill in movie. Beyond obvious physical differences, character seemed to be accurate portrayal: contrarian, painfully awkward at times, process-oriented and unswayed by emotion or outcome on field. "Paul's the Christopher Columbus of analytics," states Astros director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal. "Others may have come and gone before him. But it was his arrival that led to a permanent industry change."

                BACKGROUND (CONTINUED)

                FEBRUARY 2004, NAMED GM of Los Angeles Dodgers. After initial success, struggled with role as public face of club, communication with media and human element. Interpersonal skills exposed as notch or two below elite. Derided as "Google Boy" by Los Angeles Times. 2005 season: 71 -- 91. October same year: fired. Spent four seasons with Padres in baseball operations, final two as executive VP. Joined Mets' front office, 2010, run by GM Sandy Alderson, Harvard Law School graduate and sabermetrics acolyte. DePodesta named VP of player development and amateur scouting. Commuted from family residence outside San Diego. Revamped processes behind Mets' approach to scouting, drafting, development, trades and free agency. Four straight losing seasons to start. October 2015, Mets win first pennant in 15 years. Lose to Royals in World Series.

                PSYCH PORTRAIT, PART I

                QUESTION MOST HEARD while preparing DePodesta report: Why now? Why leave chance at World Series for long shot with Browns? Opinion of associates familiar with Mets organization is that DePodesta was as far back as fourth in line for eventual GM job. Family and home remain in San Diego. GM job with Mets would require move to New York. (Browns allowing DePodesta to cross-country commute.) Also, analytics community feels that while sabermetrics pioneers such as Bill James and DePodesta transformed baseball, they never truly conquered it. "In the last 10 years, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with something new or original that Bill or Paul contributed to the field," states a former MLB analytics researcher. According to DePodesta, Browns offered chance to explore uncharted territory, "to try something different and take on unique challenge in the NFL."

                PSYCH PORTRAIT, PART II

                TO USE INDUSTRY colloquialisms: If DePodesta becomes first stat nerd to master NFL, he will forever be known as Obi-Wan Kenobi of analytics. No denying ego played some role in jump to NFL. In Oakland, DePodesta's superior mind was driving force behind team's success. Public credit and notoriety all went to Beane. DePodesta's high-profile flameout with Dodgers compounded by way it coincided with Beane disciple Theo Epstein emerging as sabermetrics savior in Boston. Success in NFL would instantly leapfrog DePodesta over intellectual contemporaries in baseball.


                NOT A COINCIDENCE DePodesta jumped to NFL just as league announced release of RFID (radio frequency identification) signals data collected in stadiums since 2014. Chips embedded in shoulder pads track real-time player position, movement and speed. Original massive amount of precise, insightful player performance data seen as NFL's Moneyball moment. Ben Alamar, ESPN director of sports analytics, classifies new RFID data set as "transformational." Says it "will wipe out all current limitations of NFL analytics and dramatically change the football world as we know it." Example: Teams will know instantly whether quarterback is throwing to most open receiver, pass rusher coming off knee surgery is moving at pre-injury speed or opponent alters position of safety by an inch in any direction on third downs. Use of RFID chips by NCAA would eventually make NFL combine obsolete. Only variable, Alamar says, is "how big teams want to think, how deep an understanding they want to gain." This being NFL, of course, many teams will likely not understand scope or potential of new data or even bother to open the files. Therefore, DePodesta's unique skill set combined with avalanche of raw RFID data could immediately close gap on competitors (like Steelers) who use more antiquated scouting systems.


                FOR A YEAR, with franchise in disarray, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, his wife, Dee, and new executive VP of football operations Sashi Brown reached out to learn from successful sports organizations. Crash course for Haslam, among worst owners in sports, re: leadership, turnover, analytics. Case in point: Before 2014 draft, team commissioned $100,000 study on quarterback prospects. Data strongly recommended drafting Teddy Bridgewater with No. 22 pick. Haslam said to have dismissed analytics and drafted Johnny Manziel. Bridgewater now Pro Bowl QB. Manziel out of football. Team now on 25th starting QB since 1999.

                Under Haslam, Browns are 19 -- 45 and have lost 18 of past 21 games. Since buying team in 2012, Haslam has fired three coaches, and Browns are on sixth general manager in past eight years. Last season owner publicly committed to long-term rebuilding plan with promise not to "blow things up." In January, fired coach Mike Pettine and GM Ray Farmer.

                Upon meeting Haslam, DePodesta explained how most owners treat Moneyball approach like a child riding a roller coaster. Kids beg to ride, wait in line for 45 minutes, get to front of line, see giant first hill and say, "I'm not getting on that thing." DePodesta states owners often want disciplined, process-oriented plan. But when it comes time to make tough decision, they panic. DePodesta told Haslam, "There are gong to be parts of the roller coaster that are going to be scary, that are going to be uncomfortable, but hopefully at the end of the ride, when we get off, you're going to want to say, 'Let's do it again.'"

                Consensus inside NFL: Browns will get worse, much worse, before they get better, and turnaround could require up to five years, or twice the time Haslam typically tolerates. "In the pros, five years might as well be forever," Harvard's Murphy states. AFC analytics staffer states DePodesta could have perfect front office season and Browns still lose 14 games in 2016.

                WORK ENVIRONMENT

                HASLAM'S NEW COMMITMENT to Money(foot)-ball model evident in restructuring of Browns front office into Harvard West. DePodesta reports only to owner. Final say on 53-man roster now belongs to Sashi Brown, 39, fellow Harvard grad and Browns' former general counsel who worked on salary cap and player contracts. Brown, in turn, hired Harvard grad and former Colts pro scouting coordinator Andrew Berry, 28, to be Cleveland's VP of player personnel. Browns' top analytics mind, Ken Kovash, promoted to director of football research and player personnel. Fourth Harvard grad, Kevin Meers, is now team's head research analyst. In total, three of top four decision makers have no NFL scouting or roster-building experience. Cleveland brain trust now unlike anything else in football, which is exactly the point.

                Fifth person in team's draft-day war room, coach Hue Jackson, is wild card. He favors gut, eye and instinct over data -- even to own detriment. Seemed out of loop at combine when he suggested analytics "not going to drive our organization." Hope is Jackson can bring balance and unique perspective to data-driven decision-making. Fear is he's "a very bad fit," according to former NFL exec. "It's not just Hue Jackson," same source states. "When data overrides gut, the majority of his coaching staff will all be there screaming, 'What the f--- are these computer guys doing? They don't understand football, they don't understand the locker room. They're killing us.'"

                EARLY FIELD DATA

                FREE AGENCY OFFERED glimpse into DePodesta "roller coaster" and Browns' new dispassionate, counterintuitive process. Leveraged deeply flawed, desperate Robert Griffin III into two-year deal with minimum ($6.75 million) guarantee. Move allows team to still draft Carson Wentz or Jared Goff in first round. Only now Browns can use Griffin during roster rebuild while protecting and developing rookie passer and future franchise QB. Should Griffin long shot pay off, Browns can lock him up at minimal salary cap hit.

                In first 24 hours of free agency, team let four starters leave, including right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (to Kansas City) and Pro Bowl center and team's 2009 first-round pick Alex Mack (to Atlanta). Move left fans, media, NFL "experts" dumbfounded. Left analytics community impressed. Since 2011, teams that have spent least amount of guaranteed money in free agency -- Bengals (.656), Packers (.706), Steelers (.613) -- are among those with highest winning percentages. These teams, along with Ravens and Patriots, rebuild over long haul by stockpiling as many draft picks as possible, then supplement with free agents only when team is within striking distance of title. Accordingly, Browns now have 10 draft picks, tied for second most in league, including two in top 32. Ultimate test of Browns' commitment to new team-building conventions remains trading perennial All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas, 31, if team gets anything close to first- and second-round picks that Broncos offered at 2015 trade deadline.


                DEPODESTA DISPLAYS LEGITIMATE high-level, game-changing assets in otherwise staid NFL. Scores off the charts in mental makeup, creativity, vision, instincts, potential. Greatest variable remains whether Browns and owner Haslam can do something truly radical and stick to DePodesta plan for more than two years, especially if team initially struggles on field.

                So far, DePodesta responding well to unique challenges of NFL. In February, attended first NFL combine. He reported overhearing NFL front office types trash-talking Browns. Synopsis: Browns so desperate, team turned to "baseball guy." Conversation, attitude reminiscent of famous scene from Moneyballmovie involving similar grizzled, stubborn, get-off-my-lawn old-timers. Those scouts were eventually exposed, rendered obsolete, by DePodesta's analytics. "I said, 'All right, this is like 17 years ago in Oakland all over again,'" DePodesta says. "That's part of the fun."

                High-character response consistent with overall exceptional NFL prospect. Early, elite levels of optimism not major concern. Those will quickly regress to mean in Cleveland.
                Last edited by H2O4me; 05-14-2017, 11:11 AM.
                If you're not following the Astros, you are doing Houston sports wrong.


                • #9
                  Report: Hue Jackson could be 'very bad fit' for analytics-heavy Browns
                  Two years ago, the Browns spent $100,000 on a report that told them to draft Teddy Bridgewater. Owner Jimmy Haslam ignored the findings, may or may not have taken the advice of a hobo, and instead selected Johnny Manziel with the 22nd overall pick. Bridgewater is now the Vikings' franchise quarterback and Manziel is out of football altogether.

                  But all the losing -- the Browns are 19-45 since Haslam bought the team in 2012 -- has the owner re-evaluating his thoughts on analytics' role in football. He's hired former Major League Baseball executive, Sabermetrics pioneer and Harvard trained Paul DePodesta as the Browns' chief strategy officer. Joining DePodesta in the front office: Fellow Harvard graduates Sashi Brown, Andrew Berry and Kevin Meers.

                  Hey, credit to Haslam for trying something -- anything -- different than the old standard, "Let's fire a bunch of people first and sort out the rest later." Clearly, that wasn't working. And to quote Jerry, "If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right."

                  But you know who isn't from Harvard? New coach Hue Jackson, a man not only deserving of the job but who is known for his ability to get the most out of his young quarterbacks. Except that maximizing the potential of Robert Griffin III or whomever the team drafts with the second-overall pick may be the least of Jackson's worries.

                  According to an ESPN the Magazine profile of DePodesta and his management style, Jackson could be the "wild card" in whether this grand experiment works, or just the latest chapter in the never-ending "Factory of Sadness" saga.

                  [Jackson] favors gut, eye and instinct over data -- even to own detriment. Seemed out of loop at combine when he suggested analytics "not going to drive our organization." Hope is Jackson can bring balance and unique perspective to data-driven decision-making.

                  One NFL executive described Jackson as possibly a "very bad fit" in Cleveland, a description that extends beyond the head coach.

                  "It's not just Hue Jackson," the exec continued. "When data overrides gut, the majority of his coaching staff will all be there screaming, 'What the f--- are these computer guys doing? They don't understand football, they don't understand the locker room. They're killing us.'"

                  And when that happens -- and it will -- we'll see just how much Haslam has matured as an owner. Will he panic and start firing people without any thought to the repercussions? Or will he preach patience to both his non-analytics-leaning coaching staff and a desperate fan base? History suggests the former, though DePodesta's professional background suggests he won't scare easily. More importantly, he knows the Browns won't be transformed into winners in one offseason.

                  "I was standing right in front of [NFL executives] in line [at the airport after the NFL combine] and I could hear them in back of me and they were talking trash about me and the Cleveland Browns," DePodesta said recently at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. "I said, 'All right, this is like 17 years ago in Oakland all over again.' That's part of the fun."

                  We'll see who's laughing in the coming months and years.
                  Last edited by H2O4me; 05-14-2017, 11:12 AM.
                  If you're not following the Astros, you are doing Houston sports wrong.


                  • #10
                    NFL Network @nflnetwork
                    The @Browns 2016 #NFLDraft picks:
                    More coming, imo.
                    If you're not following the Astros, you are doing Houston sports wrong.


                    • #11
                      I wouldn't be surprised to see them shop that #8 pick for more picks.


                      • #12
                        The day the Browns passed on Big Ben
                        "When Cleveland passed on me, technically my hometown team, that was it. I couldn't wait to have a team and play the Browns at some point."

                        -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is 19-2 in his career against Cleveland.
                        The most decorated quarterback jersey in Cleveland contains 24 names. The list could have stopped at six: Couch, Detmer, Wynn, Pederson, Holcomb, Roethlisberger.

                        The Browns should be drafting a playmaking safety or wide receiver for a playoff-caliber team instead of potentially the franchise's 25th starting quarterback since 1999. This reality made one longtime NFL coach nearly spill his craft beer just thinking about it at the NFL combine. He was with the Browns 12 years ago. He knew what happened in that draft room in Berea, Ohio, with the Browns on the clock with the No. 6 pick in the 2004 draft.

                        "He was right there," the NFL coach said. "Once Sean Taylor was off the board, everything got crazy. Ben was discussed."

                        Before Roethlisberger began to terrorize the Browns twice a year for more than a decade, he was a lanky kid from Findlay, Ohio, who would have gladly played for Cleveland. Why is the Browns' universe too cruel to let this happen? In talks with people involved with the process from all angles, ESPN examines the mechanics of how Roethlisberger never did put on the orange and brown, how the Steelers stumbled into a gem and what it says about the draft process.

                        The rain-soaked workout
                        Ryan Tollner, Roethlisberger's agent: "They were very secretive about it. They shot in and worked him out at Miami (Ohio). I don't believe they were at his pro day, where everyone walked away saying that was one of the best throwing sessions they'd ever seen."

                        Butch Davis, former Browns head coach and executive vice president, 2001-04: "Everybody recognized he was an enormous physical talent. There couldn't have been a worse day during his workout. It became apparent he could put on a show. It was cold, it was blustery, kind of drizzly, like every Sunday in that division. He threw it extremely well. I like working out guys because you can see firsthand what they can really do."

                        Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers quarterback: "I had other similar workouts, but I remember they brought receivers. The weather wasn't ideal but I liked showing teams I could perform well in bad weather. I felt good about how I did for them, but I guess it didn't matter."

                        Frisman Jackson, former Browns receiver, 2002-05: "Coach Davis and the rest of the staff, the GM and some other people said we want you to fly with us to work out this kid. I had no idea who it was. I realized we were in Ohio, and they said, we're going to work out Ben Roethlisberger. We got our cleats on and ran routes for him for about 30 to 45 minutes. We ran the whole route tree. Everything he was throwing was accurate, hitting you in stride. He put on a show. I told him, 'Your arm is strong as hell.' He threw a heavy ball."

                        The Browns were impressed enough that former Davis lieutenant Pete Garcia told Fox Sports Ohio in 2014 the team was "very, very close" to selecting Roethlisberger. But the quarterback was fighting the small-school stigma coming out of Miami (Ohio), which still fuels him today. The stigma was definitely a factor for Cleveland too. After three seasons and sporadic results under Davis, the Browns wanted a sure bet.

                        Shane Montgomery, former Miami (Ohio) offensive coordinator: "Once people got around him and saw him in person, his stock rose. He just kind of won everybody over [at his pro day]. He responded to pressure really well, and he could throw the ball from any angle. I know [then Packers coach Mike Sherman] loved him. He said he really wanted him but had no chance. He said that in our weight room."

                        Jackson: "He'd say, 'Run this route, get to this step, and I'm going to throw the football to you.' Everything was smooth. [Browns officials] were raving about him, saying how strong his arm was, how mobile he was in the pocket. I pretty much thought we were going to get him."

                        Mel Kiper, ESPN draft analyst: "I had Ben as my No. 5 overall player, Kellen Winslow No. 7 (rummages through notes from that year, starts reading reports). 'Browns could bring a young signal-caller into the fold. ... No denying his skills as a quarterback. There's an awful lot to be excited about. Teams will be impressed by his accuracy and mobility.' So, all three quarterbacks basically had the same grade. The small-school thing absolutely played against Ben. Some people were uneasy about those four interceptions against Iowa."

                        Matt Williamson, Browns scout, 2004: "That was before I arrived ... but I went back and read Ben's reports, all the reports each scout wrote on Ben, and they really liked him. Not positive on this, but I'm pretty sure the Browns had him ranked over Eli [Manning] and [Philip] Rivers."

                        Davis: "I guess we probably had them Philip 1, Ben 2, Eli 3 if I had to guess. That's totally off the top of my memory. All three had great qualities. I just know there were so many good feelings about Philip. We put Philip on the dry board and spent a good 3-4 hours absolutely dissecting everything, reading coverages and audibles and changing protections. It's easy to see why he had a great career."

                        The Browns' environment has swallowed up plenty of well-intentioned players. Largely, though, people close to the former Miami (Ohio) quarterback believe he was a can't-miss prospect for any team, a notion he has since validated.

                        Phil Savage, Baltimore Ravens director of player personnel, 2002-04 (and Cleveland's GM from 2005-08): "We had Roethlisberger rated ahead of those two [Manning and Rivers]. It might have been a mixed bag [leaguewide]. Some people had a problem to some extent getting past Philip's throwing motion. And with Ben, for some evaluators, you're a lot more comfortable when these players had gone through quality competition."

                        Carmen Policy, Browns CEO/president, 2000-04: "The one thing that seemed to always be on the forefront of all of their [scouts'] comments was, 'Yeah, he's a big guy, a strong guy, but will he get too big, and he comes from such a small system and such a small program, it's questionable whether or not he'll be able to compete in the NFL. I do recall those specific generalizations."

                        The Jeff Garcia/Philip Rivers effect
                        The story of Ben and the Browns runs deeper than a team simply preferring another player. It's a case study for the complexities of drafting a quarterback in the top 10, with factors that seem silly years later but weren't in the moment. The team signed Jeff Garcia that offseason as a buffer from the exhaustive Tim Couch experiment. The franchise faced transition at the top as then-CEO Carmen Policy had announced he would step down in May 2004. The Browns needed playmakers, and not just at quarterback.

                        Roethlisberger: "I just wanted a team to believe in me. I didn't expect to go first and I knew there could be a number of outcomes after that."

                        Davis: "Cleveland had made an enormous investment in Tim Couch years earlier. With the salary cap and the financials at the time, they wanted it to work with Tim Couch. It eventually became apparent we would need to make a change. We had been competitive, so we thought, who could be a potential stopgap for a year or two, an older, experienced veteran guy and a great mentor? That's when we signed Jeff Garcia [in March 2004]."

                        Williamson: "Butch was the head coach and was infatuated with both [Kellen] Winslow [Jr.] and [Sean] Taylor from the U. Winslow was unbelievably good, too, before his injuries. That draft class was loaded."

                        Tollner: "We went through the process that Cleveland could be a team drafting a quarterback. Oakland and Arizona were in a similar boat, but they had made pretty clear they didn't want to take a quarterback that high. The Browns never really showed their cards. You're at 6 and it seems to make so much sense. I believe there are certain can't-miss guys, and Ben was one of those guys who would have succeeded anywhere."

                        Policy: "If we had the opportunity, as I understand that, we would have definitely taken Philip Rivers over Ben Roethlisberger, based on the evaluations of the personnel department. I think that they felt ultimately Rivers wouldn't be there. If he did wind up there, I think we would have taken him. If I'm not mistaken, that was a draft-day effort [to trade up for Rivers]. I did hear that after the fact."

                        Former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi wrote in his book "The GM" that the Browns offered a first- and second-round pick for New York's No. 4 pick. Accorsi was unavailable for comment. The way Policy remembers it, all the quarterback reports from team personnel emphasized Rivers, and the sentiment was Roethlisberger would be great value in the late-first or early-second round. That's surprising to hear on the surface, but the truth is scouting evaluations can vary wildly, a reality that deepens the draft intrigue every year.

                        So, there was Pittsburgh ...

                        Kevin Colbert, Steelers general manager: "We really didn't know [about Cleveland]. We just knew we had to wait until 11."

                        Kiper: "Quarterback wasn't a need area for [the Browns]. It just wasn't. They had six other needs before then. The demand wasn't there. They could have at that point said they weren't going after Jeff Garcia."

                        Policy: "We needed so much."

                        Jackson: "In the five years I was there, we had five or six guys starting at quarterback. If we had a guy everybody felt good about and be the guy for the next 10 years, it probably would have changed things in Cleveland. We had a really good defense."

                        Davis: "You want that first-round pick who will be a significant contributor. It can't just be a need pick. You want to get the best player. You just knew [Winslow] was a really good player and we really needed to try to get guys on offense that could help. We were struggling to score points. We needed offensive help quickly. We didn't have any tight ends on the team that would be a real threat. If [Winslow] hadn't gotten hurt, he was the kind of guy like Jimmy Graham, you can place him in different formations and personnel groupings. That would be a three-to-five-time Pro Bowl player."

                        Winslow, the Browns' first pick that year, wasn't exactly a bust. He finished his career with 469 catches and 5,236 yards in 10 seasons, including five injury-plagued years with Cleveland. Quarterback wasn't the proverbial '"need" that year. Davis was on the Dallas Cowboys staff in the early '90s, and Winslow was supposed to be his Jay Novacek.

                        Montgomery: "I knew his name was dancing around the Browns, and being an Ohio guy, Ben wouldn't have minded [being drafted by the Browns] at all. He lived closer to the Bengals, though. And [former Miami coach Terry Hoeppner] was convinced the Giants would take him. I think Ben thought that, too. That's where the buzz was, with the Giants."

                        Policy: "Some of our coaches especially liked [Roethlisberger] a lot. They thought he was tough, he's what Cleveland needed. He would fit the profile of the AFC North. The scouts and Butch Davis' chief personnel guy [Pete Garcia] really tried steering everybody away from Ben, almost putting him in the position where he's not our guy. He didn't have a shot. They made up their minds, he was coming from a less-than-sophisticated program, a smaller school, a program not nearly as competitive as a top-10 pick would be coming from, and that was their position, and they prevailed. Butch had final say. We are picking too high for him. That was the sentiment."

                        Draft day (and the aftermath)
                        An oversized figure sat inside Madison Square Garden wearing a three-button pinstripe suit, trying to play it cool with his group. His whole table was confused by the Eli Manning-Philip Rivers swap of top-four picks, considering the interest the Giants had shown. Everyone knew Buffalo at 12 was Roethlisberger's ceiling. But this kid grew up two hours from Cleveland. He played college ball four hours from Cleveland. The state's biggest university, Ohio State, viewed him mostly as a tight end. As if that weren't enough fuel, he watched the Manning name dominate the draft. Paul Tagliabue announced the pick for Cleveland: Kellen Winslow, tight end, University of Miami. Roethlisberger had his own private announcement. He told his agent the team would regret the decision.

                        Roethlisberger: "Two quarterbacks had already been picked, so as a competitor, I felt underestimated. When Cleveland passed on me, technically my hometown team, that was it. I couldn't wait to have a team and play the Browns at some point. Funny how it works out I'd go to Pittsburgh and play them twice a year."

                        Jackson: "I remember being at a draft party at Cleveland Browns Stadium, and when we drafted Kellen, there was shock. I remember the fans moaning a little bit with the expectations we were getting a quarterback. That was the expectation -- Jeff would be here 1-2 years, groom a new guy for the future, and the new guy would take the Browns to the Super Bowl."

                        Tollner: "We believe either Ernie [Accorsi] or Tom Coughlin had told Terry they would take Ben at [No.] 4 if they couldn't get the trade done. So, when they announced there had been a trade, we prepared Ben [and told him] that things could take a while. Then, quietly, once he passed Cleveland, we were sort of in disbelief. If they did their due diligence, they had this kid from Northwest Ohio, they played in the state of Ohio in college, his pro day was lights out, he was a prototypical guy with unusual athleticism."

                        Davis: "I can't remember [what happened in the draft room], but it was never chaotic or anything. We spent an awful lot of time planning that. There was a concert of people who made their opinions known as to, 'this is what we want to try to do.' ... As much as we fell in love with different quarterbacks, financially, I don't know if we could have pulled it off. We thought let's keep trying to work with [Couch] and Jeff."

                        Policy: "[The sentiment was] if [Roethlisberger] goes to the second round or the bottom of the first, fine."

                        Mike Mularkey, former Buffalo Bills head coach: "We were going to take him at 12. Thanks for reminding me."

                        Colbert: "We couldn't trade up because we knew the cost to trade up was very expensive. ... Tommy Maddox was coming off a pretty good season, and we were looking to shore up our offensive line. If we had the opportunity to add a young quarterback, because Tommy was a little bit older, we were going to do that."

                        You know the story by now: The Steelers drafted Roethlisberger at No. 11 and are still reaping the benefits. Two Super Bowls later, Roethlisberger, 34, is widely considered a top-three-to-five quarterback in today's NFL. Roethlisberger is 19-2 against the Browns, but that's not the worst of it. Roethlisberger has 5,323 career passing yards against Cleveland. Of the Browns' 20 quarterbacks since that draft, Derek Anderson is the only one to surpass that yardage total in a Browns jersey.

                        Kiper: "Jeff Garcia was the reason they didn't draft Ben Roethlisberger. History could have been rewritten."

                        Roethlisberger: "My hometown has always been predominantly Browns fans. When the Steelers picked me, some converted and some refused. As a young guy, it bothered me some. I was very motivated by people who supported me and people who didn't."

                        Davis: "In retrospect, obviously it would have been a wise decision on our part to take a Rivers or a Roethlisberger. You keep building with pieces, and you feel hopefully, eventually, you'll get the right quarterback. ... I think everybody's come to the realization that you can't coach around the quarterback. They've all got one."

                        Colbert: "Coach [Bill] Cowher unselfishly made the statement that, for the sake of the organization, if a quarterback is available, we should give it serious thought. Was that the most immediate need? No, because we didn't plan on Ben playing his rookie year. ... Tommy [Maddox] gets hurt in the first game, the rest was history."

                        Montgomery: "[The Browns] could have used him. Maybe they wouldn't be on the 20th-something quarterback since then."

                        Roethlisberger: "In my earlier years, I thought about it every time I played them. It served me well. Now, I just want to beat them twice a year because my team needs it."

                        Sometimes, scouting quarterbacks can be very simple ...

                        Savage: "Legendary scout Ernie Plank ... introduced the 49ers to [Joe] Montana, and his territory included some AFC North spots. [Plank] scouted Miami (Ohio) one day and saw a freshman and said, 'Boy, we're going to have a quarterback at Miami.' That was at least two years in advance before Roethlisberger was a known NFL prospect. Nobody could even pronounce his name at that point."
                        Last edited by H2O4me; 05-14-2017, 11:12 AM.
                        If you're not following the Astros, you are doing Houston sports wrong.


                        • #13
                          I seriously doubt he'd be more than Matt Stafford in Cleveland & probably remembered more like Vinnie Testaverde.


                          • #14
                            Jackson better be prepared for Cleveland. As really hope Johnny M gone there, will be a new start.
                            [COLOR="Purple"]July is Here!


                            • #15
                              Mel Kiper's 2016 NFL Draft Grades
                              Cleveland Browns: C

                              Top needs: QB, WR, OL, S, DE

                              I think the Browns did the right thing when they traded down from No. 2 to pile up picks. If you want to rebuild your roster from the ground up, go get picks. And Cleveland has a lot of draft capital, with an extra first and second in 2017 and an extra second in 2018. But I did have an issue: This was not a bonanza, but it should've been. The clear trend I saw was that the Browns wanted to get deeper on the lines, particularly with the pass rush, and they also wanted to load up at WR and add some speed/deep threats.

                              Corey Coleman runs a 4.3 40-yard dash and Ricardo Louis (4.43) isn't much slower, and while you hope Josh Gordon will be back, these are the kind of players that provide insurance assuming he isn't. I would've like Josh Doctson at 15, though. Seth Devalve is a move-tight end type, and Jordan Payton has great hands and is a special teams ace. Rashard Higgins has been productive and is a great route-runner. As for the lines, the Browns got a trio of pass-rushers in Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib and Joe Schobert, and I think that Schobert was a particularly good get in Round 4. Key with these guys: they were all productive. Shon Coleman is a needed addition at tackle, a high-character kid who could start on the right side as a rookie, and Spencer Drango is guard depth.

                              I think they should have gotten safety Justin Simmons at the end of Round 3 instead of reaching on Cody Kessler, a player who lacks starter upside. Safety Derrick Kindred helps after free agency further weakened the secondary. I believe the Browns are doing the right thing in piling up picks, but two things stand out: all the WR picks seem to go beyond simply how the board lined up, and felt a little excessive at the cost of other needs. Second, this draft will be in part remembered for what Carson Wentz becomes. With Cleveland, it always comes back to the QB. At least the next one has some weapons.

                              RD/PICK	NAME	        POS	COLLEGE
                              1/15	Corey Coleman	WR	Baylor
                              2/32	Emmanuel Ogbah	DE	Oklahoma State
                              3/65	Carl Nassib	DE	Penn State
                              3/76	Shon Coleman	OT	Auburn
                              3/93	Cody Kessler	QB	Southern Cal
                              4/99	Joe Schobert	OLB	Wisconsin
                              4/114	Ricardo Louis	WR	Auburn
                              4/129	Derrick Kindred	S	TCU
                              4/138	Seth Devalve	WR	Princeton
                              5/154	Jordan Payton	WR	UCLA
                              5/168	Spencer Drango	OT	Baylor
                              5/172	Rashard Higgins	WR	Colorado State
                              5/173	Trey Caldwell	CB	Louisiana Monroe
                              7/250	Scooby Wright	ILB	Arizona
                              14 picks. Would have trouble signing half if the reach free agency.

                              If you're not following the Astros, you are doing Houston sports wrong.