In 2016 the Browns won one game and flashed some potential. If they improved their offensive line significantly they’d be competitive in a lot more games. This was the prediction of many NFL pundits but it was based on one obvious off-season goal. One that was an absolute no brainer – the Browns would retain Terrelle Pryor. Unfortunately for Browns fans and Browns players this was something the Browns failed to do.
The Browns would be ok though. There were several significant receivers available; the likes of Alshon Jeffrey and Marvin Jones. Once again the Browns failed to lure one of these potential star players. Instead they grabbed bargain basement wideout Kenny Britt. Britt was never going to be the long term solution. What’s laughable is that the the Browns thought he was the short term option as a number one receiver. Britt has only had 1000 yard season once, last year with the Rams. Worse still, he averaged 610 yards a year and has only played in 16 games three times in 8 years.
So did Britt surprise and have a late breakout year? No. In fact he’s only played in 8 games (starting only 4) 223 and scored 2 TDs. Because of this and many, many other Brownisms (verb – to make mistakes in the worst way possible) the Browns haven’t won a game this year. At 0-11 the teams there’s the inevitable talk that the Browns will join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the on 0-16 teams.
This week there may be a spark more hope than usual. Josh Gordon had an impressive rookie year in 2012 (805 yards, 5 touchdowns) but was un-coverable in 2013 as he led the league in receiving yards with 1,646. But there’s an unwritten rule that the Browns can’t have nice things. Accordingly, the following year the Browns star was suspended indefinitely for drug and alcohol abuse. He’s not played a down since December 21st 2014. But now he’s back.
Gordon possesses a rare combination of size and speed that means he’s a matchup nightmare. The 6’3 athletic specimen gives the Browns an instant upgrade at receiver, even if he’s not in the best shape of his life. At 26, he’s a player that still has his best years ahead of him – if he can stay clean. Even as a decoy defences will have to account for him. This should open up holes for Isaiah Crowell in the running game as defenders won’t be able to crowd the line of scrimmage. Having a playmaker of Gordon’s caliber will also take the lid off of the coverage and create space in the middle of the field for first year tight end David Njoku.
On Sunday they’ll face a Los Angeles Chargers who are coming into form despite a plethora of injuries. It’s unlikely that their first win will come against them as they poses two of the best pass rushers in the league in Melvin Ingram and 2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa. The issue for Cleveland’s defence will be how to stop Melvin Gordon, a blue-chip running back on his way to a 1,000 yard season. Gordon isn’t alone. Keenan Allen is likely to secure a 1,000 season this week, whilst tight end Hunter Henry is also becoming an impressive weapon.
It’s unlikely the Browns can actually win on Sunday but their offence will get a much needed boost if the Browns can get Josh Gordon involved early. Long term, the chances of remaining winless drop dramatically with Gordon’s reinstatement. It’s possible that Gordon is the Browns leading receiver by the time the end of the season rolls around. He’s more than capable of contributing 100 yards a week as the team’s offensive focal point. Unfortunately for the Browns he’s also equally capable of getting suspended again before the end of the season.
Picture Associated Press