John Dorsey has been the general manager of the Cleveland Browns for less than a week, but he already has a lot to say. In a radio show appearance Thursday, Dorsey raked former Browns executive Sashi Brown over the coals.
“You know what? You've got to get a guy like that (Hue Jackson) players,” Dorsey told the Really Big Show with Aaron Goldhammer on WKNR 850, via Cleveland.com. “And you know what? I'll come straight out with it. The guys who were here before, that system, they didn't get real players.”
Brown was the only person fired a week ago by Cleveland, leaving little doubt about who Dorsey was throwing under the bus. And while the Browns have won just one game since the beginning of 2016, there are a few reasons why Dorsey’s comment on the prior regime aren’t smart.
What ‘not real’ players are you talking about?
First and foremost, Dorsey’s assertion that his predecessor “didn’t get real players” is a condemnation of the talent currently on the roster. And not a particularly fair one.
Yes, the team is 0-13, but Brown found plenty of players in the draft who have looked like solid contributors early in their NFL careers:
Here's Sashi Brown's last two NFL Drafts. Our of his 24 picks, 20 might be multi-year NFL contributors. That's an ABSURD success rate.— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) December 7, 2017
Plus, they have 2018 Draft 1st and two 2nds coming.
If not for ownership, this would be the most coveted GM job in recent memory. #Browns pic.twitter.com/WpSH65ewy8
If Dorsey has a problem with the players acquired by Brown, which players are those exactly? It’s clearly a roster that needs work, but Brown took over prior to the 2016 NFL Draft and gathered plenty of young talent in less than two years on the job.
In November, Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin said the Browns probably have better talent on the roster than 25 of 32 teams.
"They've got a lot of first-round draft picks. They've got talent," Quin said, via MLive.com. "They just haven't won a bunch of games. Don't sleep on them."
Most of the real busts of the last few years for Cleveland — like Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert — came prior to Brown getting hired. But Dorsey had nothing but nice things to say about Ray Farmer, the general manager that preceded Brown:
John Dorsey asked if the Browns ever took a player he was eyeing while in Kansas City. He named Duke Johnson, Joel Bitonio, Danny Shelton and Christian Kirksey -- all Ray Farmer picks.— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) December 13, 2017
It seems that the real reason Brown was fired was because of his deteriorating relationship with Hue Jackson and his inability to pull the trigger on a quarterback. The Browns had the chance to take Carson Wentz and/or Deshaun Watson, but traded both selections for more draft picks instead.
DeShone Kizer’s rookie season, like many Browns quarterbacks before him, has been awful and finding a quarterback is Dorsey’s top priority. But Dorsey also said that he thought highly of Kizer during his time as the Kansas City Chiefs’ general manager.
Did Brown make other mistakes? Of course. Dorsey already rectified one by cutting ties with failed free agent signing Kenny Britt. But Brown also brought in contributors like offensive linemen Kevin Zeitler and JC Tretter.
So a blanket statement that Brown “didn’t get real players” is a stretch.
The ‘guys who were there before’ are still there?
Brown is the only person who was fired by the team last week. The team’s scouting department is still intact and will likely remain that way through the 2018 NFL draft.
The front office also features Paul DePodesta — an analytics specialist who is a chief strategy officer for the team and cut his teeth in baseball before he was hired by the Browns.
There’s also Jackson, a coach who is getting all the benefits of the doubt despite leading the current roster to an 0-13 record. It’s tough to know how much of a say he’s had in the acquisition of talent in Cleveland, but Jackson has to be the reason why the Browns came close to trading for AJ McCarron in October.
Dorsey said on his radio appearance that he plans “to do [his] darnedest to get Hue players,” but also hesitated to commit to keeping Jackson in 2018.
Maybe Dorsey plans on gutting the place, which wouldn’t be hard to justify considering the team’s record. But for now, Dorsey called his new coworkers incompetent for no good reason.
The last thing the Browns need is to start over again
Cleveland has a reputation for being a perpetual rebuilding project that never comes to fruition because ownership can’t stick with one regime. It was the reason why so many laughed at the team’s decision to fire Brown.
But Dorsey is in a position where that doesn’t have to be the case. The Browns have 29 players on the roster who are still on rookie contracts — the most in the NFL — and plenty more draft picks and cap space to work with. In April, the team will likely have two top-10 picks and three second-round picks.
There’s no reason to blow it up and start over. But Dorsey’s comments suggest he may.
Dorsey throwing Brown under the bus may be made for good radio, but it’s hard to understand why it was a good idea to say in the first place. The last thing the Browns need is their young roster trashed.