Paul DePodesta may play a big role in hiring Browns’ next coach

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Last year, when Browns General Manager Sashi Brown was fired and replaced by John Dorsey, it appeared to be the end of the analytics era in Cleveland. Dorsey blasted the previous regime as not knowing how to find real football players, and it seemed that an old-school approach to building a team was coming back.

But the real analytics expert in Cleveland was Paul DePodesta, not Sashi Brown. And a year later, DePodesta is still in Cleveland, and still powerful enough that he may play a big role in hiring the Browns’ next head coach.

Although DePodesta has kept a low profile in Cleveland, eschewing media appearances and staying quiet, he’s still the team’s Chief Strategy Officer and is considered the No. 5 person on the organizational flow chart, behind only owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, Executive Vice President JW Johnson and Dorsey. DePodesta reports directly to the Haslams, not to Dorsey, and from all indications the ownership still believes DePodesta is a smart guy who understands how to build a successful franchise.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo reports that DePodesta is more influential than people outside the organization realize, and Robinson suggests that it was actually DePodesta, not Dorsey, who backed Gregg Williams to become the interim head coach when Hue Jackson was fired. That would make sense, as Williams — despite his Bountygate reputation as a hard-nosed, old-school football coach — has said he believes there’s value in the analytics approach that DePodesta champions.

That also suggests Williams should have a good shot at keeping the head-coaching job on a permanent basis. If DePodesta has Haslam’s ear, and DePodesta likes Williams, then it seems highly likely that the team would keep things going with Williams, especially considering how well they’ve played since Williams took over.

That doesn’t mean Williams is sure to keep the job. But it does mean that he has to be considered a serious candidate. And whoever gets hired as the next head coach will likely need to impress three people: Jimmy Haslam and John Dorsey, of course, but also Paul DePodesta.

46 responses to “Paul DePodesta may play a big role in hiring Browns’ next coach

  1. Hard to believe, given the Browns turnaround this season, that Gregg Williams will not have the interim title removed and be the HC next year? There would seem to be no rational reason for that not to happen?

  2. More than ever, the Browns should be able to sell themselves to some of the better head coaching candidates. They should look to take advantage of that and make a wide search. Give Williams an interview, but don’t just hand him the job.

  3. The results of this season certainly makes a good argument that it wasn’t necessarily the analytics which were at fault in previous years, it was the coach. Hue Jackson is one of the worst leaders of men on the planet and yet he had one of only 32 NFL head coaching jobs and will get another chance with Cincinatti, not because of his obvious talent or sterling record but because he knows a guy.

    That is the problem with most coaching positions and front office positions. If you think every team is looking to hire the best guy you are incorrect, it is all about getting family and friends jobs.

  4. The problem is the whole “better head coaching candidate” thing is mostly an overhyped media creation. Winning games is hard in the NFL and scrapping a team for a superstar coach is taking a big chance (see Oakland). Cleveland has good chemistry, they have good schemes, they appear to finally have a competent front office, and they’re finally winning football games. How long do you think it will take Haslam to run Dorsey out of town if Dorsey runs Greg Williams out of town and the next coach comes in and pulls a Gruden?

  5. 5-2 since taking over. Can anyone tell me the name of a coach available who has a better winning percentage than .714? Belichek has a .670.

  6. If Williams gets the job, the whole thing will implode within two years. Cleveland do yourself a favor and hire a coach who isn’t an ego maniacal nut job.

  7. If the Browns beat Ravens imagine the pressure to keep Williams and Kitchens. Or better yet, imagine the blowback if they fire them and hire a new HC…

  8. Bottom line!

    Williams has earned a shot at head coach.

    Let’s see if he can keep them rolling…

  9. Let Greg be the coach browns are rolling don’t change a thing. I love baker and darnold let’s take over the afc

  10. Kitchens/Mayfield……they and those 2 alone are the only reason for the Browns’ turnaround. It has nothing to do with Williams or some kind of analytics. Haslame is in danger of over thinking this again and will make the wrong choice. It’s simple, just hand the HC job to Kitchens and do the right thing for once.

  11. hailtothenamechange says:
    December 24, 2018 at 12:17 pm
    Hue was there to lose with the roster that Sashi Brown built to lose. Browns are beginning to realize the rewards. It was a good tank.

    13 29 Rate This
    Exactly. It’s clear as day.

  12. I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade and Cleveland has deserved a good football product probably more so than anyone after all their years of struggle, but I would just suggest they temper their expectations for next season a bit for no other reason than that out of their 7 wins this year they’ve only beaten 1 team with a winning record (and that was before they hit their stride and started Lamar) and out of their 7 losses 2 of the teams that beat them have losing records. There is definitely talent on that team, but they aren’t a finished product yet. Maybe Gregg Williams and Freddie Kitchens are the best options to lead that team going forward, but there isn’t any harm in looking for potential improvements.

  13. It would be a complete Browns move to get rid of Williams in favor of someone else. For once you have a team with a seemingly viable QB, building consistency under a HC and a good OC. No need to overthink this one. Maintain consistency by maintaining the continuity of the staff and players in house. This is your shot to be relevant Cleveland. Dont mess this up.

  14. 5-2 since taking over. Can anyone tell me the name of a coach available who has a better winning percentage than .714? Belichek has a .670.

    Pete Carrol and Anthony Lynn are both at .750 since Hue got fired.

  15. Bounty Gate, One of the most overblown issues ever in the NFL. There are 32 teams in the league, and believe it there aren’t many who didn’t do something similar during that season, not to mention that it probably still goes on today…

  16. willycents says:
    December 25, 2018 at 8:38 am
    5-2 since taking over. Can anyone tell me the name of a coach available who has a better winning percentage than .714? Belichek has a .670.

    His over all record as ahead coach is 22-34 for .400. Not saying he couldn’t be a good coach, but you need to take his over all record into account if you are comparing him to Belichek.

  17. greg williams has a history of being a terrible coach. his defenses historically stink. they give up tons of points and yards but get sacks and turnovers. Kitchens is the reason for the turnaround. Cleveland or not, kitchens will be a HC next year for sure

  18. Dorsey explained long ago about the process. He wouldn’t name who senior management was.

    “I know that all of you all want to talk about the coaching search. First, let me say this: I am not going to really go into detail much about it, but I will say this, senior management and I have kind of gotten together over the last 10 days and we kind of begun to walk through the process. We still have six weeks left with regards to putting our plan together. At the end of this process, we will able to interview head coaches, and we will be planned, we will be prepared and we are going to get the best coach possible for this organization moving forward,” Dorsey said.

  19. Yeah as really hope they keep Gregg on there. And really should not change anything. Should had been the coach since week 1 and removed Hue Jackson earlier.

  20. They are the Browns so they’ll probably hire Marvin Lewis after he’s fired from the Bengals.

  21. Ok.. so everything is looking up for my Browns. They are playing well and really working hard for Gregg Williams. So now they are considering blowing it up and bringing in someone else to be the next head coach? Really. The most important thing on ANY sports team is chemistry. So now my Browns are considering making a coach these players are bleeding out for on the field have to “interview” for a job he has already been doing a sensational job at? What lack of respect. The best thing the Browns could do is THIS WEEK name Gregg Williams the new head coach before the Ravens game and then watch the team go out and curb stomp Baltimore because the team will continue to ball out for the man who they know will lead them into the future. Ownership and management owe it to Gregg Williams and the players… but when is the last time the Browns HAVEN’t screwed things up…. and YES, I was at the 0 – 16 parade at First Energy Stadium in single digit weather do show my displeasure / disdain with Jimmy Haslam [I will NEVER forget the dude who was in the parade wearing nothing but Speedo’s … he was purple from the cold]. The next parade I want to be at for the Brown’s is a Super Bowl parade where I can cry tears of joy with other Browns fans for all that we have been through. Making Gregg Williams, and the players as well, sitting in limbo and twisting in the wind does nothing to improve team moral. If I’m Gregg Williams and I don’t get the head coaching job, I’m walking. He has proven his ability to motivate these guys.

  22. I think Gregg Williams as HC would be a mistake. Hes a garbage human being and it might work for a little while, but there are better options to run your team long term

  23. Everybody is piling on Hue, but the Browns were a couple of missed kicks and what I thought was a terrible officiating call against the vs my Raiders from winning as many games under Hue in the first half of the season as under Williams in the second half. Despite Hue being saddled with an OC he didn’t want. Guy got a raw deal.

  24. You have a team that has been rolling in the second half of the season. And they want Paul DePodesta, a baseball computer-geek analytics nerd, to find the next head coach??? Looks like you can’t take the “Browns” out of the Browns.

  25. Williams may be hired permanently but saying they have to do it because the Browns are 5-2 is lazy analysis. There is more to consider than that. It’s a team sport but people are always wrongly attributing wins and losses to a single person.

  26. Sashi Brown was the slaughtered lamb who constructed the “tank” to get Cleveland to where it is today. DePodesta is still there in his nebulous world of stats and figurative analytics, just like a genie lurking within a bottle. Williams drove a super defense before being made HC; points against have risen since he assumed a new position. It was Kitchens who pulled Mayfield out of the Haley-doldrums and let him become the aggressive QB is is. I think Williams should return to keeping a stellar defense; Kitchens should keep his position as OC (with a raise, of course); and the new HC should be Bruce Arians or Lincoln Riley. Or just hire Riley AND Arians as an advisor

  27. Cleveland needs to do a full search. Not convinced Williams is the permanent answer. You get a lot of teams that do better in the short term with an interim. Remember Todd Bowles? Jim Bates? Romeo Crennel? There have got to be others…

  28. If true, it’s disappointing John Dorsey did not have the influence nor the insight to name Gregg Williams as interim HC

    Also,weeks ago,Williams said he did not appoint Kitchens as OC. Did Dorsey at least have the smarts and influence to do that? Kitchens did call plays the last pre-season game so the chain of command had already been set but did it take DePodesta to do that too?

    If Dorsey is only in charge of player personnel I suppose it’s ok but if Williams does not get the job fulltime,with Kitchens as OC, there is still a big dysfunction problem in Brownsland.

  29. We all need to remember that these guys were all hired by Hue Jackson to be on his staff. If Williams would happen to get the full time position, would he want to keep Kitchens as his OC, or would he want to bring in one of “his guys” to be the OC?

    Whatever decision they make… I’m hoping it’s the correct one, because Cleveland fans deserve to see winning football!

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