Ed Puskas: Browns new GM isn’t playing


More than a few front-office types arrived in Berea promising culture change would follow.

All of them, to this point, were swept out sooner or later after the only changes turned out to be the names of the Browns’ quarterbacks from week to week and year to year.

Maybe John Dorsey will be different. Cleveland’s new general manager is preaching culture change the way some of his predecessors did, but he’s going about it in a very different and public way.

Dorsey broke an unwritten, but largely followed rule — you don’t bash the guy who preceded you — when he appeared a northeastern Ohio radio station Wednesday.

“I’ll come straight out with it. The guys who were here before, that system, they didn’t get real players,” Dorsey said, firing a shot across the bow at Sashi Brown, who ran the Browns front office until last week.

“As [coach] Bill Parcells would always say, ‘You are your record.’ And you know what? There it is, so that’s the truth-teller in this thing.”

There was no middle ground on Dorsey’s comments. Browns fans either loved his candidness or hated it.

From here, what’s not to love?

The Browns are 1-28 in their last 29 games. They’ve won four of their last 50 games. They’re three losses away from joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the NFL’s only 0-16 teams.

Whatever the Browns were doing, it wasn’t working.

But the way some people reacted to Dorsey’s factual, legitimate assessment, you’d have thought he took the names of Paul Brown, Otto Graham, Marion Motley and Lou “The Toe” Groza in vain.

Their message? Ignore the record. Ignore what you see from the stands or on TV every week. Focus on the draft picks and the salary-cap space.

Well, guess what? Every Browns regime has come up with draft picks. When did the idea of losing every year and getting another series of high picks become revolutionary?

What, exactly, did Brown and fellow analytics guru Paul DePodesta accomplish to set themselves apart from, say, Phil Savage and Tom Heckert? Or Mike Holmgren and Joe Banner?

The Browns do have some talent, but not nearly enough for all the high draft picks they’ve had over the years. For every Joe Thomas, there are more than a few Gerard Warrens. And then there are the free-agent busts like Dwayne Bowe and Kenny Britt.

Dorsey began his new job by waiving the useless Britt, who was what is known in baseball as a clubhouse cancer. Cutting Britt — an unproductive and overpaid malcontent — was addition by subtraction.

“I have no problem making that decision,” Dorsey said. “From a cultural standpoint, I don’t think he fits in the prototypical character point of what I’m looking for in terms of a leader. He did not live up to his expectations as a player. He may have a higher opinion of himself than I have of him as a player, so I thought that was easy.”

Getting rid of Britt and other deadwood is the easy part. But as other Browns executives have learned the hard way, acquiring and developing talent and truly changing the fortunes of this moribund franchise are anything but easy.

But at least Dorsey is armed with the right attitude for a difficult and thankless job.

Write Vindicator Sports Editor Ed Puskas at epuskas@vindy.com and follow him on Twitter, @EdPuskas_Vindy.

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