Josh Gordon has the talent to be an All-Pro wide receiver. Unfortunately for the Browns, they can’t afford to rely on him to contribute on the field.
Optimistic Browns fans could have started to dream about a really intriguing receiving corps featuring Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman and Jarvis Landry. Unfortunately, one-third of that trio isn’t at training camp.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Gordon is absent from the team’s training camp due to an undisclosed illness, forcing Cleveland to put him on the NFI (non-football injury list).
Here are the statements from both the Browns and Gordon on the matter.
It’s irresponsible to speculate on what he may be dealing with, but it’s fair to discuss how his absence should affect the Browns moving forward. Simply put, head coach Hue Jackson and company cannot afford to rely on the talented, but inconsistent receiver.
The stark reality is that Gordon’s last, and only, productive season as an NFL wide receiver came back in 2013. He led the Browns with 87 catches for 1,646 yards that season. Unfortunately, his career has been derailed by injuries and issues with the league’s substance abuse policy since then. The former Baylor star was suspended for the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons.
It’s possible he can be a productive player in 2018, but that’s not something the Browns can count on. Jackson and the rest of the offensive staff need to move forward with the idea that anything they get from Gordon is a luxury. Expecting him to be a consistent part of the offense will only set up the Browns for failure.
The good news is that the team does have quite a bit of talent at the receiver position. Even without Gordon, Tyrod Taylor isn’t going to struggle to find targets. Even though he’s going to operate primarily out of the slot, Landry is going to command a lot of catches.
Cleveland also needs Coleman to take a massive step forward in his third season as a pro. He was drafted with high expectations, but he’s really struggled to be a difference-maker. Should Gordon miss time on the opposite side, Coleman is going to need to operate as a primary weapon. That means he’ll need to drastically increase his production of 23 catches for 305 yards he put up in 2017.
The Browns shouldn’t write Gordon off entirely, but expecting him to be a standout player at this point is a dangerous game.