The Browns have cobbled together a potentially mismatched mashup of football personnel, and a strong emphasis on analytics and sports science possibly conflicts with coach Hue Jackson’s more old-school, qualitative-over-quantitative approach. The first sign of a schism already has emerged, over the issue of padded practices in training camp.
“Honestly, they got kind of mad at me,” Jackson told reporters on Tuesday regarding the sports science staff, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I’ll be very honest with you. We had a very candid conversation where they said, ‘Hue, you might want to double-check your padded days schedule.’ I told them, ‘No.’ I know how to take care of a football team. I get a feel for when the guys, when we’re pushing them a little too far and we need to reel it in.”
It makes sense, because ultimately there’s only one way to prepare football players to play football well.
“We’re only going to build our football through playing football and good football teams play football, real football,” Jackson said. “They line up and they go after each other and they come out and they do it again the next day and somewhere in there, Coach Jackson’s got to be smart enough to say, ‘OK, that might be enough. We need to pull off.’ That’s part of being the head coach as well and it’s part of having a sports science team. I’m sure they’ll give me all the statistical data that you can to forewarn me, but I’m going to trust my instincts on that one and see if we can get our team to be the best that they can be.”
One definitely low-tech, non-scientific method for getting the team to be the best it can be will include the use of a siren.
“The siren is not for the health ward to come,” Jackson said. “It’s not for that. It’s just for, we’re going to put the ball down and it’s kind of everything goes. We go after it. You’ve got to teach your team how to play football. That being said, it’s also about being smart. We’ve got to be smart because we’re not trying to get any guys injured. . . . We’re not trying to do that, but I don’t know any other way to get better at playing football other than playing football the way you truly play football. I think I’ve broached that with our players. I think they understand it and I think they’re accepting of it because, again, at the same time, they understand it’s what it’s going to take to get us to where we need to be.”
Surely, there will be other differences of opinion between the sports science employees and Jackson. It’s a safe bet that Jackson will consistently be the rock to the sports science scissors.