Paul DePodesta addresses his role with the Browns

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The guy portrayed by Jonah Hill in Moneyball has spent four years with the Browns, occupying a big title while never actually relocating to Cleveland. So what does chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta actually do?

“My kids ask me the same question because they want to tell people at school,” DePodesta told reporters on Tuesday at the press conference that introduced the team’s latest new coach, Kevin Stefanski. “What is it that you actually do? Look, Kevin talked a lot today about a shared vision. I think my role really first and foremost, is to not only help us create but also implement that shared vision and then ultimately make sure that we stick to it, really relentlessly and that is really my role. I look at all the processes that are within a football operation. Whether that, again, whether that is hiring someone, whether that is how we do scouting, whether it is how we look at things with numbers. I sort of dig into all those processes and make sure that they align with our vision and that we all as a group continue to stay aligned and be on the same page as Kevin said.”

It hasn’t really worked so far, in part because DePodesta in the past has lost plenty of battles with traditional football types who weren’t ultimately on the same page with the former baseball wunderkind. However, given that Sashi Brown and John Dorsey are long gone, DePodesta has won the wars, even without living in the locale of the primary battleground.

“I have seen a report that I live in San Diego,” DePodesta said. “I think my wife and kids would take issue with that characterization. Look, I have been here every week since the beginning of training camp. Ten years ago, when my wife and I first moved to San Diego, we have a large extended family in San Diego. That is incredibly helpful and incredibly supportive. These jobs, this industry is tough and we decided that at that time, that we wanted our kids to be able to grow up in that environment. If it meant that I would have to take on the burden of travel to do my job, then that is what I was going to do. This was before I even went to the New York Mets and that is the way I did that job for five years and now I have continued on with Cleveland. Look, I do not think — it has not been an issue. Like I said, I am here every single week and we get our work done.”

There were rumors during the season that DePodesta could have gotten a promotion in Cleveland, but that he ultimately opted not to move there. Regardless of whether the rumor was true, DePodesta continues to have major influence with the Browns, despite not being there on a full-time basis.

Full-time or part-time, DePodesta remains a major player in Cleveland’s NFL franchise.

“I expect to be here,” DePodesta said when asked about his contract. The fact that he has survived as long as he has with an owner who has soured on every other key employee within three or fewer years of hiring them says something about DePodesta’s staying power. That staying power will be tested now that he has finally gotten the man he wanted to be the coach last year, when Dorsey got his way on hiring Freddie Kitchens.

If it all works, that will be great for Cleveland and for the Browns. If it doesn’t work, DePodesta may end up looking for work with another NFL team. Or he can go back to baseball. Or, I suppose, he could give basketball or hockey a whirl.

21 responses to “Paul DePodesta addresses his role with the Browns

  1. So what does he actually do and where does he live? He picked the head coach so you really have to blame the Browns owner Mr H. for this future train wreck. Seriously, there are only 32 professional NFL franchises but in Cleveland the drama continues. One couldn’t write a script better for a bigger disappointment.

  2. While I appreciate Mr. DePodesta finally coming out and addressing his role, based on his previous work experience, I would say that he is not the right man for this particular job, although I could see the benefit of a position of this type within a football operation. I think that a man who has experience in some sort of football management position, whether that be as a GM or even a coach of a football team, would be more qualified for this particular position. That being said, someone shouldn’t have to be on the “same page” as him in order to do their job. That is probably one of the reasons why no one wants to work for this organization.

  3. DePodesta and Sashi Brown WERE on the same page. Both were willing to trade down like Belichick and accumulate draft capital while cleaning up cap space. Instead, Hue Jackson wanted a “football” guy in Dorsey and what to do? Blow all the hard work and wasted years of their efforts.

  4. DePodesta was successful for the Oakland A’s. His expertise clearly doesn’t mesh with football because the Browns have arguably a top 5 roster and continue to suck.

  5. How role is whatever Haslam allows it to be! Personally, I’d prefer he go back to baseball or even try basketball or hockey. That way he could screw up another sport!

  6. None of us know all the decisions he supported, or did not, behind closed doors. The ones reported that he did not support, were proven to be the wrong ones. If he has too much power, he is definitely now on the clock, just like Dorsey was.

  7. I think this team finally stands a chance. Kevin needs to have the final say but this could be the first time a qualified coach and management are on the same page.

    Good luck guys. Time will tell if the carousel has ended.

  8. @ darrenkod
    Yeah Belichik has really kept the talent flowing in NE. The offence alone is stacked! Not really though. He has never been seen as a great talent evaluator.
    Bill trades down because he can, most GMs see very little difference between the 29th pick and the 33rd. Anyways, Sashi Brown was horrible, and every single thing he did was wrong.

  9. “My kids ask me the same question because they want to tell people at school. … my role really first and foremost, is to not only help us create but also implement that shared vision and then ultimately make sure that we stick to it, really relentlessly and that is really my role. I look at all the processes that are within a football operation. Whether that, again, whether that is hiring someone, whether that is how we do scouting, whether it is how we look at things with numbers. I sort of dig into all those processes and make sure that they align with our vision and that we all as a group continue to stay aligned and be on the same page.”

    Great explanation. Pretty sure I know why your kids have no clue what you do, Paul.

  10. Paul, you better start drafting beef and improving the OL and DL. 65 sacks in 2 years (40 this year) is complete failure. An organization is failing if its QB is being sacked more than once a game. Over 20 should be complete organizational failure and the OL needs to be retooled.

  11. Pretty sure Sashi Brown and Depodesta were allied but Dorsey was only able to get rid of one of them when he came in.

  12. So here’s the reason for the dysfunction: Depodesta’s job is to set the mission statement and create the framework for the Organization. The framework is based on “analytics”, which is a fancy way of saying analyzing information to help you make decisions. The problem is that the “football” guys (Hue Jackson and John Dorsey) say they buy into it, and then disregard it and try to do things their way. The bottom line is that they have never had everyone on board, from the owner to coach, at the same time. That’s your dysfunction comes from. Now they finally have the alignment their looking for, so there are no more excuses.

  13. Not sure I agree with characterizing him as a part timer. Many strategic executives serve their role while working remotely – where he sleeps on the weekends really doesn’t matter.

    Sounds like he’s on the road 5 nights a week, so his family can enjoy some stability. Nothing wrong with that. Also, this “here are my terms of employment” stance is a great way to stay employed. Owners are always afraid of what they’ll lose, and Depodesta will most certainly have another opportunity waiting.

  14. Here every week is a little gray…Not sure how many world series or championships he won in baseball to become a football expert

  15. How can any team rely on analytics unless they are based on identical variables. If even one of those variables is different, analytics are just a hunch. For example, going for 4th and 10 using one play against a defense versus using the same play against a different defense can’t be expected to have the same outcome. Talent or lack of talent for each team is the key differentiator. The only thing I could see analytics being beneficial for are deciding to draft/trade one player versus another. It could help determine level of talent.

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