Today's question: Are the Cleveland Browns revolutionizing the NFL by bringing in former Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta and increasing the reliance on analytics, or will this flame out in a couple of years the way most Browns' coaches' careers do?
Jeremy Fowler, Pittsburgh Steelers reporter: Revolutionize? The Browns are just trying to win a few games. What they are doing now -- shopping in bulk for draft picks, basically -- isn’t a new concept. The Browns owe so many former coaches money that they probably can’t afford much more than mid-level veterans and rookie contracts. Really, nothing else matters if the Browns can’t draft good players. That’s been the issue in the past, not strategy. That’s not on DePodesta. But if Jimmy Haslam gives this group at least three years, the plan can work. There’s something to admire about purposefully getting worse before getting better, as long as DePodesta doesn’t 76er the franchise. Analytics is a helpful tool as part of the broad football discussion. Still need good players; that won’t change. Saving precious cap space won’t alter that challenge. The personnel staff will be just as important as DePodesta.
Coley Harvey, Cincinnati Bengals reporter: Whether teams want to admit it or not, most rely on some form of analytics. For example, we’re starting to see more teams adopt the GPS monitoring systems that track data relative to the day-to-day health of their players. Those systems can help determine treatment options and rehab regimens for players who are injured. The rise, on a team level, of analytics sites like Pro Football Focus also has started revolutionizing the league in recent seasons. So though it might be easy to consider DePodesta’s ideas too quirky for the long-stodgy NFL, he might actually not be too far off a trend.
Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Ravens reporter: The Browns should be applauded for thinking outside the box. I’m just skeptical whether "Moneyball" translates to football like it does to baseball. Football is the ultimate team sport, and it’s impossible to put parameters on how players will do in conjunction with one another. Still, the key for the Browns is just sticking to a philosophy. Continually changing the vision and schemes every one or two years puts a franchise in a vicious cycle. It looked like the Browns were starting to lay a foundation a few years ago under Tom Heckert, who brought in talented players (cornerbacks Joe Haden and Buster Skrine, safety T.J. Ward, tight end Jordan Cameron, wide receiver Josh Gordon and pass-rusher Jabaal Sheard). But he was fired after three years as general manager. Patience has been just as elusive as wins for the Browns.