Browns Find Philosophical Alignment With New GM Andrew Berry
The Browns have hired Andrew Berry as their GM & Exec VP/Football Operations, making the 32-year-old him the "youngest GM in the NFL," according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Berry, who previously served as Browns VP/Player Personnel from '16-18, becomes the team's 16th GM and the sixth since Jimmy and Dee Haslam purchased the Browns in '12. The five-year deal was announced this morning. Berry will try to "buck the trend of GMs lasting about two years under the Haslams." He will have "final say over roster decisions." The addition of Berry gives the Browns an "all-Ivy League triumvirate running the show" in Harvard-educated Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta and Berry, and new coach and Penn grad Kevin Stefanski. This will provide Jimmy Haslam with the "philosophical alignment he's been seeking since he purchased the team" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/28). YAHOO SPORTS' Charles Robinson wrote the alignment of Berry, DePodesta and Stefanski gives the Browns "significant depth in analytics," as all three have "backgrounds leaning into that effort" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/27).
WILL IT FINALLY WORK? ESPN.com's Jake Trotter noted two days after firing former GM John Dorsey, Haslam "lamented how the Browns had suffered with 'arranged marriages' through the years since he bought the team," with GMs, front-office execs and coaches who all "didn't see eye to eye." Haslam vowed to "seek 'alignment' this time around, with the Browns intending to hire a general manager and a coach who would collaborate well alongside DePodesta and ownership" (ESPN.com, 1/27). In Cleveland, Terry Pluto writes the alignment will "probably not" work if Haslam "keeps acting like" he has in the past. Mistakes with this regime "will be made," but Stefanski and Berry "need and deserve patience." Pluto: "How did the Browns end up with these two bright but still very inexperienced guys in key positions? Because Haslam continually firing people has made the job off-limits for some men who might otherwise be intrigued by a chance to turn around the Browns" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/28). ESPN's Trey Wingo said he does not "have a problem" with the Browns hiring a 32-year-old GM because it "feels like they have a plan." But that has sometimes been the "issue with the Cleveland Browns, 'What's the plan?'" ESPN's Mike Golic said the Browns "don't get the benefit of the doubt" on this being a good hire, because they have "failed time and time and time again." Golic: "This organization doesn't get the benefit of the doubt of anything" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 1/28).
FINDING A FIT: In Cleveland, Dan Labbe notes Berry has "risen quickly since entering the NFL." He always has "represented the crossroads of scouting and analytics for many, a man with a history of doing work as a scout but also young enough to fully embrace the mindset of where modern front offices are heading." The Browns "appear to have found the alignment they sought." But Browns fans and observers all have been "burned over and over by Browns regime changes and the optimism of offseasons before." Labbe: "Let's wait and see if this results in wins in September and beyond. One thing we can say is there appears to be alignment" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/28). In Akron, Marla Ridenour writes whether Berry will "bring the Haslams their long-sought alignment remains to be seen." Berry and Stefanski "can team to build something they can be part of for a long time." They can "break the cycle of the Haslam regime, with a lack of continuity the only thing that can be counted on." They can "blend analytics and football, which DePodesta believes is the path to success." However, that path "will not be without pitfalls" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 1/28).