Tony Grossi Thinks the Browns Are Taking Advice From an ESPN Writer Who Might Secretly Be Working for Them But Most Definitely Is Not

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Tony Grossi uses his comfy platform at ESPN Cleveland 850 to pass along not much information about the Browns and plenty of hatred for their analytics-inclined front office. That's about all you need to know to enjoy the rest of this.

This morning's column, which has since been deleted but which you can read here, started in the usual direction — quarterbacks and cheap shots.

Here we go again: Which quarterback, and when?

That’s what it boils down to for the New Browns Order in its second draft.

Of so many decisions confronting them, this is the one that – yet again – fills the spreadsheets of the Harvard think tank and scrambles the brain of the head coach.
Harvard! Spreadsheets!

Anyway, the rote Cranky Old Guy routine quickly gave way to some Facebook Uncle conspiracy theorizing.

You see, Grossi is convinced the Browns made the interesting and shocking trade for Brock Osweiler either a) Because they saw that ESPN writer Bill Barnwell, a very smart guy who covers the NFL and knows his analytics, proposed the idea in a column months ago or b) Because Bill Barnwell secretly consults for the Browns. Yes. Let's go to the videotape here:

Analytics-R-Us: Barnwell is a staff writer for ESPN.com, steeped in analytics, one of the many speakers at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which was held in Boston last month.

His biography on the conference Website includes the tidbit that Barnwell “has served as a quantitative consultant to both MLB and NFL teams.” Although there is no mention that Barnwell has served as a consultant to the Browns, the circumstantial evidence is that he has, or does.

After all, Barnwell, who speaks the language of the Browns’ current regime, using terms like Pythagorean triangulation and Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) systems, apparently was the one who first conceptualized the idea of the NBA-like, salary-dump trade for Houston Texans quarterback bust Brock Osweiler.

In a Dec. 22 column on ESPN.com, Barnwell proposed the Browns take on Osweiler’s $16 million salary as a means of accelerating their rebuilding project.

If the Browns do not employ Barnwell as a consultant, they certainly read him and respect him. For on March 9, they shocked the sporting world – except for Barnwell – by doing what he recommended 2 ½ months earlier. 
Grossi's argument is bolstered, in his opinion, by the fact that he was in Arizona for the NFL owners meetings and Browns' front office members wouldn't explain to him how they came up with the idea for the trade.

So, slam dunk case.

Anyway, Deadpsin has reached out to possible double secret agent Bill Barnwell and ESPN and has heard from neither as of yet.


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