What Can This Brown Do? A Lot
Cleveland may turn to its fourth different starting quarterback of 2013 this weekend, but no matter to Josh Gordon: the rapidly ascending and record-setting receiver has shown an ability to put up yards and create big plays no matter who's throwing him the ball
Browns second-year wideout Josh Gordon has had his share of ups and downs during his brief NFL career. A second-round pick in the supplemental draft, he flew under the radar with 50 receptions for 805 yards and five TDs in 2012. But then Gordon popped on everyone’s radar during the offseason.
He received a two-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and was ticketed during training camp for driving 98 mph in a 60 zone. At one point over the summer, Browns CEO Joe Banner said, “Gordon knows that the rope that’s left isn’t long.”
Look at him now.
Gordon’s stock has never been higher after he became the first receiver in league history to have back-to-back 200-yard games. He caught 14 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers in Week 12, and 10 balls for 261 yards and two scores against the Jaguars last weekend.
“You think of all the great receivers that have played the game, and for it not to have been done before—I was pretty taken back,” Gordon told me on Wednesday. “Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Andre Johnson—the list is pretty long. I was shocked, to say the least. But it’s a great accolade to have, and I’m proud to have done it.”
Despite missing the first two games of the season, Gordon trails only Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson in receiving yards, with the latter Johnson having a game up on Gordon due to already having played his Week 14 game Thursday night. Gordon’s 19.5 yards per catch and 124.9 per game are NFL bests among regular receivers.
Those are the kind of numbers that make fantasy football owners drool, but one lesser-known stat makes Gordon’s season all the more shocking: three, the number of starting quarterbacks the Browns have deployed this season. Gordon has caught passes from Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden, and that number could very well jump up to four if either Caleb Hanie or Alex Tanney is forced into duty this weekend, as both Campbell and Weeden are recovering from concussions.
“You know, it’s hard on rhythm,” the 6-3, 225-pound receiver says. “It’s something that we have had to deal with here and we’re really just pushing through and trying to persevere to get some wins.”
The Browns are 4-8 overall, and 1-6 since Week 6. For a while trade rumors loomed over Gordon’s head. But they didn’t distract him. “What do you do out here on the field is the only thing you have control of as a player,” he says. “Everything above you—front office decisions and stuff like that—is way over your head and you have no control over that.”
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski has yet to announce a starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Patriots, but it’s of little consequence in the bigger picture. Uncertainty at quarterback has plagued the Browns for the past few years, but they have two first round picks in next year’s draft and can hopefully find an answer for their woes at the position.
On the outside, there’s no doubt that they’ve found a playmaker in Gordon.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT
Jaguars 27, Texans 20. Gary Kubiak paid for the Texans’ latest loss with his job, and watching the game last night, it looked as if his team had already given up on the season. Apparently owner Bob McNair agrees, saying Friday about his decision to fire Kubiak, “[The Jags] played harder, they played smarter and that’s not acceptable to us. … The last straw was losing.” For the second time this season, Kubiak benched Case Keenum in favor of Matt Schaub, and while Schaub did manage to get the Texans back in the game, it wasn’t enough to slow the Jaguars, who have now won four of their last five. The young, developing team is clearly playing hard for and enjoying first-year coach Gus Bradley, and with the Titans, Bills and Colts remaining on the schedule, there’s a good chance the Jags finish the season with six or seven wins, a remarkable feat given the team’s 0-8 start.