Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is having a phenomenal second year in this league, and he’s made up for his two-game suspension (unlike Justin Blackmon, of course) in a huge way. Gordon has six games with at least 125 receiving yards this season, and he’s averaging roughly 125 receiving yards per game overall this year. With a 261-yard performance in a close loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Josh Gordon won our Player of the Week award and also became the first player in NFL history to have back-to-back 200 yard receiving games.
But Gordon will face a very tough test this week in the New England Patriots, especially since there is a chance that the Browns will have to start Caleb Hanie (recently signed, since I doubt they want to play Alex “Trickshot” Tanney) with Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden concussed. Beyond that, the Patriots No. 1 goal in every game is to take away the opposition’s biggest strength, and that’s obviously Josh Gordon right now for the Browns. Patriots free safety Devin McCourty is probably the best in the business, and he’s going to hurt some of Gordon’s fascinating big-play ability. Although Aqib Talib struggles against speedy receivers like Gordon and had a bad day against Andre Johnson on Sunday, he’s still a great corner and represents a challenge for Gordon.
Patriots head coach certainly knows how good Josh Gordon is, and he spoke at length about the Browns star receiver during today’s press conference. Check out the quote below:
“I’d say it’s pretty much been throughout the season. Of course, he’s had a lot of production the last couple weeks but I don’t think you’ve seen anything in those games that you haven’t seen previously in the year. He’s a very explosive player. He can get behind the defense. He has good speed down the field. He does a good job on underneath routes, inside routes, crossing patterns, curls, in-cuts, things like that of not only going in and catching them in traffic but he’s a strong guy, breaks a lot of tackles, bounces off guys. They have trouble getting him on the ground. They also throw him some quick passes out in the flat, like quick three-step drop plays or look type passes that complement the running game if the defense is all packed in there trying to stop the run and that kind of thing. He’s a hard guy to handle one-on-one out there in terms of tackling and just getting him on the ground. I think he has over 500 yards run-after-catch or something like that. He makes a significant amount of yardage after he’s got the ball in his hands but he also makes a lot of yardage down the field too. He’s a really hard guy to defend because they do so many things with him and you have to defend him at all three levels of the defense. Depending on what coverage or what type of coverage you’re in, that can stress everybody, it’s not just really one guy.”
Sometimes it seems like there’s nothing that Gordon can’t do out there, because he’s just been that good this season. His mix of size, speed, and insane agility makes him a nightmare to bring down, and the Patriots secondary will have to be at its best against Gordon, especially when it comes to bringing him down. Many teams have been stymied by Gordon and left in the dust thanks to poor tackle attempts, and discipline is a must when facing a weapon of his caliber. He forces missed tackles at an even higher rate than Browns drop-prone wideout Greg Little, and Gordon was at his playmaking, agile best against Jacksonville. The Patriots will have to double him up at all times this upcoming Sunday, and Gordon is one of the best receivers and most explosive offensive weapons in the NFL today. He’s simply a joy to watch, and I can’t wait to see how Bill Belichick and the Patriots gameplan for a guy of his caliber.