Have the Browns Fallen Under the Spell of David Goggins?

I’m not saying that would be a bad thing, per se, but it would explain why we see the Browns fielding injured players when they have perfectly good backups on the roster. After all, it takes a special kind of crazy to put Jedrick Wills on the field and expect him to do his very difficult job while hopping on one foot.

David Goggins is a retired Navy SEAL, ultra-marathoner, and sort of a motivational speaker type of guy. I haven’t read his book, and don’t pretend to be knowledgeable of his philosophy, but I have heard him on Joe Rogan’s podcast (embedded below), so I am familiar with his approach. And it strikes as masochistic. Here is a quote:

“Pain unlocks a secret doorway in the mind, one that leads to both peak performance, and beautiful silence.”

Right now, Baker Mayfield is wracked with pain from multiple injuries, but he soldiers on Goggins-style. So, has he achieved peak performance? Not hardly. Just the opposite, actually.

The reason why I think the Browns are now Gogginites is the way both use the word: “accountable.” The Browns have a slogan: “smart, tough, and accountable.” And it has always struck me as odd because nobody seemed to be held accountable for anything. Here is Goggins talking about his “accountability mirror” concept:

This is different from the normal usage of the word “accountable” where if you are responsible for something and you screw up, you are subsequently held accountable, and punished by an authority such as your boss, your priest, or a judge.

So, Goggins has a different usage of accountable. And so do the Browns. For example, over a year ago, it was statistically proven that Odell Beckham, Jr. was wrecking the chemistry of the Browns’ offense. And yet, the team continued to employ him as they plunged from a playoff team to last place in their division. Nobody in the franchise (that we know of) has been held accountable for that incredibly bad decision despite the Browns constantly trumpeting that they are smart, tough, and accountable. Because when the Browns say “accountable” they have in mind the Goggins technique of shouting at yourself in the mirror.

So, have the Browns elevated pain-seeking above winning football games? It sure looks that way. Since he was benched for the Denver game, Baker has completed 58.8% of his throws during the subsequent four games. That’s a terrible number. Meanwhile, the uninjured Case Keenum has completed 64.4% of his attempts (versus the Broncos & Patriots). While that is below the league average, it is substantially better than Baker.

We know that, when healthy, Baker can play at an elite level. But when smashed up, not so much. Logically, one would play Keenum, give Baker some rest, and then in two or three weeks, if he looks good in practice, put him in again. The problem is that the concepts of “rest” and “healing” are frowned upon in a Goggins milieu.

Is the Goggins approach suitable for NFL teams? Well, for one thing, NFL players don’t have to seek pain; they get plenty of it all season long. Secondly, Goggins is an ultra-marathoner, and such athletes run very slowly while NFL players run very fast. According this site, ultra-marathoners run at a tortoise-like speed of 13 minutes per mile. The two sports are very different.

If the Browns want to castigate their reflection in the mirror every morning, I say: have at it. But when an injured player’s performance suffers, I say: put the fucking back-up in and win the fucking game!

Note: Baker is tough, but you don’t get points for that in the NFL.

Note: this reminds me of when Howard Stern came under the spell of the “Getting Things Done” cult years ago.

Note: NFL players are constantly lauded for playing through pain, but nobody ever mentions the game-day Toradol injections.

Note: Last week, I urged the Browns to increase the number of rushing plays, and they did, to great effect. They should continue this policy versus the Ravens. Not only are the Browns built for running the ball, but they insist on fielding a smashed-up QB. Last week, the Colts ran the ball 69.7% of the time, and smashed the Bills 41-16. So, let’s see the Browns take their rushing percentage up over 70%. Unleash the three-headed monster!

Note: why not just hang a tire from a rope and have Baker and Keenum throw balls through it? The guy with the best accuracy gets the start.

Note: according to reports, Donovan Peoples-Jones has been riding a stationary bike since his groin injury is preventing him from practicing. Well, it just so happens that I have a groin injury of my own. Guess how I got it? Cycling. Without crashing, you can still easily injure your muscles and joints while cycling – especially while racing. DPJ could probably rehab faster just by watching TV all day.

Note: a perplexed softball player once told me that he could hit longer home-runs when he did not lift weights in-between games. I introduced him to the concept of over-training. I would bet that the vast majority of NFL players are chronically over-trained.

Note: and finally, D’Ernest Johnson had another good outing versus the Lions with 26 yards on 5 carries for a 5.2 average. DJ is now a nose ahead of Kareem Hunt on the leader board. Chubb is #1 with 6.99 YPC, DJ is #6 with 5.25, and Kareem is #7 at 5.23. (Hunt only has 8 more carries than DJ now.) That’s THREE Browns in the top 10! The very definition of a three-headed monster!