Report suggests Hue Jackson is a bad fit for Browns’ analytics staff


The new front office executives hired by the Browns this offseason come from an analytics background, led by new chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, who was an important figure in Moneyball and a longtime baseball analytics guru.

But the Browns’ new head coach does not come from an analytics background, and a new ESPN Magazine profile of DePodesta suggests that coach Hue Jackson is likely to clash with the analytics people in Cleveland. The profile quotes a former NFL executive describing Jackson as “a very bad fit” for the approach DePodesta wants to take.

That executive also said Jackson’s coaching staff will not be on board with the analytics department’s decision making, and predicted that there will be fireworks in the draft room.

“It’s not just Hue Jackson,” the former executive said. “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.'”

For his part, Jackson has said there’s a process and a plan in Cleveland and he’s on board with it. But if the Browns struggle this season, questions will surely be raised about whether the analytics approach is in fundamental conflict with Jackson’s traditional football approach.

131 responses to “Report suggests Hue Jackson is a bad fit for Browns’ analytics staff

  1. Did anyone EVER expect anything different coming out of Cleveland. This is what we call in the Coast Guard “Ops normal”. Something is in the water up there. Thank god I live in Southwest Ohio.

  2. Beancounters can have all the rational logic in the world but it doesn’t mean they know what’s best.

  3. Baseball is a stat driven sport.
    Football is blood and guts.
    Did someone say TERMOIL in the Browns organization?
    What else is new?
    We got rid of one diva but now it looks like we restocked the hen house in the front office.
    Claws out girls !
    No wonder we suck.

  4. I never understood the hype for this guy. When the Niners didn’t get him, I was in the minority when I was relieved. Not that Chip Kelly is a lot better, but he is better. Hue Jackson went 8-8 and he was a hot commodity. It’s not that Hue Jackson is a terrible coach, it’s just the Browns are really bad. It’s starts at the top and works its way down. You’re going to fail when you go to Cleveland, and the fans deserve so much better than the garbage they put on the field.

  5. The analytics guys shouldn’t have anything to do with the draft, as they are analyzing NFL performance data (for determining free agent signings/cuts). The draftees have no NFL performance data to analyze, and their salaries are slotted so there isn’t any performance vs. pay data.

  6. Wow, how unexpected. Based on everything we’ve seen to date, I expected the Browns ownership group to approach the integration of a GM and coaching staff with the utmost care and professionalism.

  7. So tired of hearing about analytics like it’s some sort of witchcraft. We all take in data every day to validate a decision. The damn computer isn’t going to running the Browns – even if that would be better. We have some VERY smart people that are looking at data from all over the place to look for trends and validate, as much as possible, the right choice. Paul Brown, Bill Walsh etc.. all used data and analytics.

    Hue seems very smart and will welcome as much information as possible to help him. And he’s going to work with some very smart people.

  8. Top 5 Greatest Browns QBs

    1. Otto Graham
    2. Brian Sipe
    3. Trent Dilfer (Ravens)
    4. Vinny Testeverde
    5. Bernard Kosar

  9. A “former NFL executive?” Is that who is being quoted here?

    In other words, an “unemployed or unemployable failure.”

    Has to be Mike Lombardi or Joe Banner.

  10. Analytics is a supplemental tool not the driving force. Use analytics to break the tie if the coaching staff/GM likes two players equally. If you use analytics as the main part of the decision making process you will fail. It works in baseball because when it comes down to it baseball is a game between 1 pitcher and 1 batter. Everything else happens because of that initial battle.

  11. I always thought Jackson to be a bad fit for the Browns. All this hullaballu about Jackson’s credentials was nothing more than a fantasy. Case in point: his effervescence over RGIII. What?

  12. Hue Jackson is a bad fit for a head coach ANYWHERE. Guy coached a team that set the all time record for penalties in a season and somehow people still think he’ll be a good coach.

  13. This is complete bologna.
    It shows a huge lack of understanding of analytics and how they work. Football analytics is as much evaluation and opinion, it is not like baseball at all.

  14. Part of me wanted to make fun of the Browns still but with Hue Jackson in charge and RG3, I figured there’s no way they could he an embarrassment anymore as Hue runs a tight ship.

    Well, they’re proving me wrong already. Tradition vs Analytics rarely works. Want an example? My Eagles with Joe Banner and crew. The fact they went to 5 championships and a superbowl with that FO is still a mystery but aso why there’s no ring there. It was a fun yet ugly ride especially between 2005-2008

  15. Just so everyone knows, Phil Emery and Marc Trestman were huge analytics guys and you see where that got the Bears.

  16. SNAFU: Situation Normal, All …

    With the salary cap, today’s NFL team has to be concerned with “Bang for the Buck.” If you don’t pay attention to that, you have no hope of being successful.

  17. The Oakland A’s “Moneyball” is just another term to deflect the truth that Lew Wolff is the “cheapest owner of any professional sports team” Can this guy please sell the Oakland A’s. I mean how many All_stars to the A’s let go because they are to cheap. Here is what their recent line up should be if not for the worse owner: (don’t even get me started on their pitching)

    CF Billy Burns
    2B Ben Zobrist
    3B Josh Donaldson
    LF Yoenis Cespedes
    RF Josh Reddick
    1B Stephen Vogt
    DH Brandon Moss
    C Derek Norris
    SS Addison Russell

    Not sure if the Browns realize that the NFL has a salary cap,

  18. ESPN is losing credibility lately. First there tearing the cavs apart now there saying the browns ore disfuntional before we have played one game or had one practice. These guys sure like to pick on Cleveland last I looked there was 31 other teams that didn’t win the superbowl last year.

  19. “quotes a former NFL executive”
    Ray the Farmer?
    Perhaps it was Kokinis?

    Note: Hue was hired after the front office. He had chances to go elsewhere. He chose this.

    Does anyone know this will work? Nope. But there are those that definitely don’t want this to succeed and have been contrarians to the idea from the start. No draft, no games played, and people are passing judgement? Seems totally fair, this leads us back to Holmgren, farmer…..

  20. I don’t know if anyone else has asked this or not, but is there a connection between this issue and the six scouts fired recently? Who made that decision again? Did Jackson agree with it? All of this adds a new nuance to some of the other moves Cleveland has made this off-season.

    This from a Steelers fan of all people: the city of Cleveland deserves better than this. If owners got judged by the same standards as coaches and players are, a lot of owners would be in the unemployment line.

  21. Hue is in a no-win position. If the team does well, it will likely be because of the “moneyball” approach, and not him. If the team does poorly, it will be on Hue, and his inability to adapt to the “moneyball” approach of the front office. This article is already laying the groundwork for that scenario.

  22. If they commit to using analytics, it should mean that we get the safest picks possible. No more taking chances on atheletic freaks like Barkevious Mingo or Justin Gilbert. Just take the best guy available in each round. That means we should get somebody like Miles Jack, and not a quarterback who you hope could develop to be average.

  23. I for one, am looking forward to the results. I would say that a variation of the system is already working extremely well in New England. Ernie Adams is Belichick’s analytical team and an extremely influential guy for the Patriots. So the process can work as long as everybody knows their place. That will be the rub.

  24. clbrwns
    Hue would love to have more information but if the analytics guys are the ones making the decisions because they do outrank him what does it matter what he thinks.
    Hue just better be prepared to coach the hell out of whomever is there

  25. “The new front office executives hired by the Browns this offseason come from an analytics background.”

    Analyze this: Hue Jackson comes from a WINNING background.

  26. nopepper123 says:
    Apr 11, 2016 12:36 PM

    Belichick would be a bad fit in Cleveland……oh, wait…….he already was.

    He was turning that ship around, until he got Modelled.

  27. Hue is a good coach, but if he blows up in Clev the way he did on Oakland (totally different reasons) it won’t look good on his resume. Regardless the guy can coach offense and should never have a problem getting an OC gig.

  28. And with the first picks in the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 NFL drafts, the Cleveland Browns choose…

  29. Browns is a bad fit for every great coaches. A failure place to play for just like the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s the truth! Look where Bill Billichick is right now.

  30. I don’t think you’ll find that many coaches in the NFL that have the same mindset as a Moneyball front office guy from the MLB…

  31. Brown’s fans get ready for Hue’s wacky “Star Wars” formations, where Joe Thomas will shift to the WR position. It drove us Bengal fans nuts.

  32. Not being in synch with the analytics staff is the least of the Browns’ problems with Hue Jackson. This guy is a control-freak who will sooner-or-later seize the opportunity to wreak further havoc on the roster when he has the chance to ‘play GM’. Furthermore, Jackson is a certifiable lunatic.

    Does Jackson deserve credit for getting rid of Manziel? He would if it was his original idea, but as I recall Pettine wanted to jettison Manziel a year ago and got overruled by Haslam and was eventually fired for the owner’s own decision.

  33. I don’t know if anyone else has asked this or not, but is there a connection between this issue and the six scouts fired recently? Who made that decision again? Did Jackson agree with it? All of this adds a new nuance to some of the other moves Cleveland has made this off-season.

    This from a Steelers fan of all people: the city of Cleveland deserves better than this. If owners got judged by the same standards as coaches and players are, a lot of owners would be in the unemployment line.

    The Browns had a bloated scouting staff that was by far the biggest in the NFL. You only need so many voices in the room. All they did was do 6 scouts, who weren’t going to be renewed, the favor of telling them that they could get out and get a jump start on new jobs.

    With the release of those 6 scouts they are closer to the average size of an NFL scouting dept.

  34. Hue Jackson is an X’s and O’s guy…he is a great play caller and coach but he is definitely not a personnel guy. Case in point, he was instrumental in that absolutely horrible deal for Carson Palmer in Oakland. Palmer did not fit into that scheme and Hue thought he could make him fit. Hue wants front office control as a coach…this should never happen with him.

  35. Just saw Moneyball this weekend. Remember the bit where the A’s manager wasn’t playing the guys that Brad Pitt (Beane) wanted to play? Manager was adamant that while Pitt controlled who was on the roster he controlled who played. So Pitt traded the players the manager wanted to play…

    Something tells me this worked out better in Oakland than it will in Cleveland. This could get ugly for Hue…

  36. Analytics vs. “understand locker room”?? How’s that worked for the Houston Rockets???

  37. So this guy who is apparently unemployed since he’s a former executive, doesn’t know this for sure, just thinks so because that’s what he thinks. Everyone poking fun at the Browns do realize that the Patriots have had an Analytics department for a few years now don’t they? As long as they let the scouts do their job and get the coaches input, this should work as well as everybody performs at their respective jobs.

  38. Browns fan – keep the faith. I feel your pain. Falling so low will make the view from the top all the more spectacular! I admire your loyalty.

    Raiders Fan

  39. Hue knows his X’s and O’s but got busted for trying to get his paws on the cookie jar in the power struggle when Al Davis died and Mark took ownership of the team. Let’s see how he does with the analytics guys in Cleveland.

  40. Not to worry.
    With the hiring of the “best quarterback in the league” aka, Bob Griffin, everything will work out, and they will make the playoffs for years to come.

  41. lifelong Browns fan here, I too am skeptical that this analytics approach will work but at this point what do we have to lose? Been a laughingstock for so long and whiffed in the draft so many times that we might as well try something radical. The cupboard is so bare right now that there is really nowhere to go but up. But my guess is that Haslam won’t stay this course either and he will blow everything up again, sooner rather than later. It doesn’t matter who the head coach is when there is no QB or playmakers. People got so caught up in the turd Manziel story, anyone notice that the defense completely checked out last season under “defensive guru” Pettine. It’ll take several good drafts before this team is anywhere near contention, so many holes to fill

  42. All this talk is speculation no one knows what will happen and the last thing we need in Cleveland is to jump ship when next year goes bad( it obviously will fail) but that’s a part of rebuilding the only reason the browns have been so bad for so long is we can’t keep a coach or a gm for more than a couple years You need stability so the guys you do draft to fit a specific system will well play in that system

  43. Analytics is a tool in football decision making and not “the way” like in baseball. If the Cleveland front office uses it as one paradigm of many to drive decisions then all will be OK. If egos are too big on the football admin. and analytics sides then they are screwed.

    Browns fan 🙁

  44. Maybe he gets tired in 2 years and comes back to the Nati for the HC job. Most def would be a better fit than him up north in the garbage.

  45. Hue Jackson in Cleveland was a waste of a good hire. He is an outstanding coach and deserves better. Hopefully he will only have to endure one year of chaos and get a better job next season!

  46. Not surprised that anything “analytical” would be out of the realm for Jackson.

    I miss laughing at his silly Raiders post game press conferences. Guy is not bright.

  47. “But if the Browns struggle this season, questions will surely be raised about whether the analytics approach…”

    Because that would be the only reason a team that’s rebuilding might struggle…

  48. Anyone who flat out ignores analytics in whatever field they’re in is an idiot. Analytics never tell the full story, whether it’s football, baseball, business, etc. – they’re simply a piece of the puzzle that you use in conjunction with your knowledge of the business. If you try to operate purely on analytics, or purely on “feel”, you’re missing out on valuable information either way.

  49. To be honest, I think they needed a coach that was smart but quiet and maybe not so established. Hue Jackson will not take crap from anyone, if he doesn’t agree with the analytics guys he’s going to do his own thing.

  50. The best practice is a combination of “Football” guys and Analytics. The guys using analytics need to be able to explain what the numbers show and why, and the “football” guys need to be capable of understanding and open minded. But there are areas where there isn’t enough data to back up the analytics. You can’t look at 2 years of college stats playing against inferior college teams in a non-pro system and predict that this guy or that guy will make a great NFL player. However, you can look at 10 years out of a college system, evaluating many players who transitioned to the NFL and predict which systems produce better pros. Maybe Player A & B grade out the same by Hue and his staff, but the Analytics team breaks the tie.

  51. Oh… well then, all the Browns have to do is fire Jackson. Problem solved and that would be par for the course for the Browns.

  52. Not a Browns fan but I’d really like it if they could send the Steelers and Ravens to the sidelines during playoff season (meh on the Bengals, who always screw up the playoffs anyway). Plus their fans deserve a lot better.

  53. funshipm174 says:
    Apr 11, 2016 1:55 PM

    Wasn’t this the same team that fired Belichick?


  54. this getting beyond ridiculous and we are now entering the freaking twilight zone in Cleveland….Brownie fans we got your back..time to force a sale of this franchise and give
    the fans some hope.

  55. Analytics works for the Patriots, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t work in Clevland. That being said, the Owner and Coach and GM have to buy into it. Ernie Adams is the analytic guru for the Patriots. Both Adams and Belichick have a keen interest in the mathematical analysis of football. When Adams wasn’t involved in football, he worked on Wall Street as a bond trader and even started his own investment firm.

  56. Okay, but when Jackson is in awe of RG3, and the Browns pay him at a discount compared to Chase Daniel and Matt Schaub and save money along the offensive line by moving Cam Erving to center, this is a bad fit?

  57. Hue’s a helluva coach but lets be honest here, you just can’t polish a turd no matter how hard you rub it. They’ve already set him up for failure. Sure i applaud getting rid of Johnny Foosball, the kid is spoiled freakin brat that’s had everything handed to him his whole life. All he’s had to do is throw a little fit and gets what he wants. He’s never worked for a damn thing. But then you go and sign RGIII. Really? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. this has been the “Brown’s Way” for so long its all they know. Its crazy! I feel sorry for Hue. He’s a damn good coach but when you’re only head coaching opportunities have been Oakland and Cleveland…well. Lets just say it’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys! The Factory of Sadness is indeed open for another season. Sorry Cleveland fans. You really do deserve better than what that crook in the FO is giving you!

  58. When Denver traded Cutler to Chicago, the new breed stat geek fans did a pretty effective job of selling the acquisition of Kyle Orton as evidence of J McD’s inner genius. The idea was that Denver chose Chicago because McD recognized him as an unappreciated superstar in the making. Some of the numbers actually suggested some promise. The problem was that Orton was about as competitive as a drunken bunny rabbit and even less athletic. Football is easily the least easy game to understand and explain statistically.

  59. “softandgentleraiderboy says:
    Apr 11, 2016 3:23 PM

    Browns hired the wrong guy???? What a shock!!”

    They got the right guy, just the wrong front office…. and the wrong owner.

  60. So the baseball guy is telling the head football coach that he is a bad fit for the FOOTBALL TEAM!!! I’m going to go out on the limb and say that if there is a bad fit for the Browns FOOTBALL team it is the baseball guy!

  61. Why don’t we wait to see how this plays out before we listen to some unnamed football exec. Only time will tell if this is going to work out.
    Nothing in the past has worked, so let’s see how this plays out.

  62. I think most people here missed that this is an outsider’s opinion on where the Browns will head and not actually a report on the factual state of the Browns currently. Browns are an easy target to throw the negative hot take cannon at since it usually isn’t proven false. Problem is, the team hasn’t even made it to the draft and people are speculating (key word for this story) on how it will end.

  63. “Did anyone EVER expect anything different coming out of Cleveland. This is what we call in the Coast Guard “Ops normal”. Something is in the water up there.

    Thank god I live in Southwest Ohio.”

    Up here, we call it ‘Kentucky”

  64. It’s the same as any other NFL team. When the team wins, everyone loves each other. When they lose, everyone blames the other. The exception to this rule is the 49ers. They were winning under Harbaugh, yet they broke up a winning team. Now they’re losing again and everyone in SF is happy.

  65. The quotes make it appear as if Hue Jackson already said those things. The draft hasn’t even happened yet. Is this what reporting has become now? Speculative conjecture with a spin as if events have already taken place when in fact none of this is going on yet?

  66. Maybe Hue can rely on the Great Gimmick to be both the best pro QB ever and the best NFL scout as well!

    And maybe next year the Great Gimmick can become the next head coach of the Cleveland Dog Piles. It would be delicious rise to the ultimate position. The Great Gimmick could motivate his players by telling the same old tired stories about 2012 when the Great Gimmick’s season was saved by Kirk Cousins.

  67. The Browns just need to draft the right QB, and that may even be in the second round. I have a feeling the best QB in this draft will still be on the board when the Browns pick in round two. Having the right QB is about 80% of the battle. If the Browns can get Jalen Ramsey in the first round, then they’d have their Ronnie Lott and their Joe Montana. The analytics guys and Hue Jackson will live happily ever after. Wake up! It was just a dream.

  68. “When data overrides gut”….Quite honestly, I had enough draft decisions made by gut feelings rather than what the scouting reports said.

    I don’t think you can predict working relationships without knowing all parties involved. They have said time and time again analytics is only a part of the process so I guess we will see. One thing I know is every other system, with every other coach, staff and GM has failed so I’m ok giving this a shot.

  69. It’s a little early for the haters to start throwing shade at Hue and the Browns.

    They haven’t drafted a player, coached or played a game; so why all of the negativity?

    As a Bengals fan I think very highly of Hue’s capabilities and if given some talented players I believe he can achieve success. I say let’s wait until they actual put a roster together and play few games before we start saying how it’s not going work and Hue is the wrong guy for the job.

  70. Cleveland won’t be any good this year.. Everyone knows that.. Let’s give them a few years… Good luck Browns fans…
    -Raider fan

  71. For the many historically challenged posters who think that the Cleveland Browns fired Bill Belichick, they did not. Belichick was fired as head coach of the Baltimore Ravens by Art Modell the year after the team left Cleveland.

  72. ctiggs says:
    Apr 11, 2016 12:21 PM

    Did anyone EVER expect anything different coming out of Cleveland. This is what we call in the Coast Guard “Ops normal”. Something is in the water up there. Thank god I live in Southwest Ohio.


    The Browns are owned and operated by a corporation based in Tennessee. There are numerous similar corporations based in southwest Ohio, such as Proctor & Gamble. Would you like to drink the water coming out of their plant’s effluent discharge?

  73. The Cleveland Clowns are so bad that they remind me of the horrendous Bungals of the ’90s. The Clowns are repeating so many of the same mistakes the Bungals made … bringing in idiots and mentally weak players (Chad Ocho Cinco & Terrel Owens and a long list of druggies & drug dealers). I remember when Cincy was the laughing stock of the NFL and people nationwide would tell jokes about them. Whenever a player would get arrested in college, the joke was always, “don’t worry bro, you’ll fit right in at Cincinnati”.
    Now the Clowns are the laughing stock of the NFL. Not cool.
    The only way to fix it is to get out a Big Broom and sweep the place clean. Complete Overhaul. Get rid of all your crap, including the WR with superstar talent who has a brain the size of a pea.
    Once the Bungals FINALLY cut both Chad & T.O., that cleansed the locker room of all their drama-crap, which freed the way towards a new direction.

  74. The Browns have been doing analytics for many years now. Scouring the streets, collecting data on who the homeless would prefer to quarterback the team.

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