What exactly is the Chief Strategy Officer in a front office? In the case of the new position created for Paul DePodesta on the Cleveland Browns, it’s as the man in power.
I have learned Paul DePodesta leaving #Mets to run the NFL Cleveland Browns as executive VP, answerable only to team owner/pres.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 5, 2016
Deadspin succinctly explained how most probably feel about this decision by saying, “If it was any other team doing this, I’d probably see it as a cool, interesting, and creative move. But the Browns are the Browns, so it’s hard to argue for anything but cautious optimism.”
The idea here is getting someone in charge that will help someone with more practical football knowledge to make the best decision possible with the best information available. After all, even if DePodesta is a knowledgable football fan, he’s likely ill-prepared to make personnel decisions at the NFL level.
The Browns have been a top down disaster for several years now. They’ve constantly shot themselves in the foot at the skill positions while building capable offensive and defensive lines. The team really only needs to find their quarterback, even just a consistent mid-tier one, in order to take a possible step toward the playoffs. DePodesta could be the man to help find the bits and pieces that will allow them to take a step forward without having the first overall pick in a year with Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning sitting atop draft boards.
This won’t be an easy transition for DePodesta and there is little, if any, evidence that his tactics and knowledge will properly translate. After all, the Moneyball code involves looking at the big picture, the long con. Over the course of a full season, the percentages will play out if luck is considered neutral.
However, in the NFL, with just 16 games in a season, luck can determine an entire season for a team. There can be true talent 12-win teams that only fight their way to six or seven wins. DePodesta knows that the sample sizes of a full season differs greatly between the sports and he will surely take this into account, but does that take away his most useful knowledge base? We shall see.