Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Browns, struggling to compete, have decided they need a new direction. About 11 hours elapsed between Cleveland announcing the dismissal of Executive VP of Football Operations Sashi Brown and the team welcomingJohn Dorsey as general manager to lead football operations going forward. The former Packers director of football operations and Chiefs general manager will be formally introduced on Friday.
"Bringing in someone of John Dorsey’s caliber, his track record of success and his experience, significantly strengthens our opportunities to build a winning football team and that has been, and continues to be, what we want for our fans," owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement.
Head coach Hue Jackson and Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta will reportedly stick around, but this is a clear pivot by the franchise. Dorsey has professed his preference for exhaustive film evaluation with a side of analytics, rather than the other way around. And his way has produced results. He helped build the 2011 champion Packers and assembled a talented Chiefs roster that finished with a winning record in each of his four seasons in K.C. (Dorsey was let go in a surprise move last offseason).
Success-starved Browns fans hope the 57-year-old can do the same again, and he'll have a lot to work with thanks to the foundation laid by Brown. Cleveland could have two top-10 picks (they own Houston's) and five in the first two rounds this spring, plus a massive amount of cap space. As one NFL exec told Cleveland.com, "They are in a tremendous position." The Browns? Tremendous?
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1. Falcons 20, Saints 17. The NFC South gets crazier by the day. Thursday, New Orleans' most reliable leaders, Drew Brees and Sean Payton, cost the Saints a comeback victory chance. The QB threw an interception in the end zone with 1:25 left. And with the game not quite clinched, the coach was penalized for running onto the field and aggressively gesturing at an official while trying to call time out during Atlanta's next possession, giving the hosts a first down that allowed them to run out the clock.
2. Fallout continues from Monday Night Football. George Iloka, the Bengals safety who had his suspension switched to a fine, spoke for the first time Thursday. "You can never take the natural reaction of what football is, which is another man running in one direction and another man running toward his direction to try to bring him down and him to try and keep running," he said. "It will be physical. There’s no way you can softly bring a guy down." Back in Pittsburgh, guard Ramon Foster said of Ryan Shazier's injury: "This was one of the first times ever, in my entire life of playing football, where I felt scared of football." Since Monday, there has been little in the way of good news regarding Shazier's outlook.
3. Get your tissues out for this story of a Bills fan's last days after being diagnosed with ALS, and the special hours he spent watching Buffalo at a local bar. If I'm ever diagnosed with a fatal disease (maybe in the year 2140), I hope I can have Joel Markowitz's sense of humor about it. “I’m pretty sad that I’m not going to live to see the Bills win a Super Bowl,” he told his five brothers. “But then again, neither are any of you.”
4. There are some awesome details about the making of the Heisman Trophy in The New York Times. One, it's manufactured not far from where prohibitive favorite Baker Mayfield plays in Oklahoma. Two, it's created with techniques that date back to Ancient Egypt. And three, the angle of the statue's arm has varied over time. Now you know!
5. The Seattle Times has a full rundown of the sexual harassment allegations against Hall of Famer Warren Moon. Moon, though he denies the charges, has stepped aside as a Seahawks broadcaster.
6. Here's another podcast rec, this time from the NFL Films team: An audio extension of a new feature presentation on the 1991 Falcons. Jerry Glanville, Brett Favre, and even James Brown are discussed.
7. Before injuries pushed Jamaal Williams into the Packers' starting running back role, Clay Matthews knew the rookie only as "The Dancing Dude." Now he's giving the team a playful personality.
8. Enough talk about John Fox and the current Bears. Let's talk about Dick Butkus, who is now 75, and also how SI's Dan Jenkins described the famed linebacker in college: "Dick Butkus is a special kind of brute whose particular talent is mashing runners into curious shapes."
9. While Chuck Pagano continues to sink in Indianapolis, his brother has had early success as Oakland's new defensive coordinator. Get to know John Pagano.
10. O.K., O.K., can we slow down on the Garoppolo-Montana comparisons, 49ers fans?
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Want motivation to get started on that holiday shopping list? Well, Von Miller has already found time to buy his teammates gifts. Want to feel better about where you stand? The linebacker got them all the same thing: ChiliPads.
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