How Will the Browns Overcome the Loss of Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon Body III

A verdict has finally been reached in Josh Gordon’s appeal for reinstatement. Wednesday, Aug.27, the NFL announced that Josh Gordon’s yearlong suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy would be upheld.

Gordon initially met with league arbitrator, Harold Henderson, to appeal his suspension Aug.4, but in between that time, Gordon had an additional run-in with the law Jul.5 as he was arrested on suspicion of DWI. Gordon was pulled over for speeding in Raleigh, NC, and blew a 0.09, which is just over the legal limit of 0.08. Gordon’s initial court date regarding the DWI case was slated for Aug.26 but he and his lawyers filed a continuance for Tuesday, Nov.18.

Gordon released the following statement regarding his suspension:

 “I’d like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans,” Gordon said in the statement. “I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn’t exercise better discretion and judgment in my case. I would like to sincerely thank the people who have been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging time, including my family, my agent, my union, my legal team, and the Cleveland Browns staff.”

Throughout his suspension, Gordon will continue seeking counseling and treatment, and will be subject to random drug testing. Gordon has also expressed interest in playing in the CFL while serving his yearlong suspension from the NFL.


How Browns Will Fill the Void:

Despite missing two games at the beginning of the 2013 season due to suspension, Gordon set a single-season franchise record with 1,646 receiving yards. Josh Gordon Body IIGordon also added 9 touchdown receptions on the season. How do the Browns replace that type of production at the wide receiver position? The answer is simple, they can’t.

With Gordon missing, and Jordan Cameron, Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins listed as the only experienced targets for Brian Hoyer, it is easy to surmise that the Browns will not equal their total of 4,372 passing yards from 2013. With Austin manning the position of “X” receiver, and Hawkins presumably in the slot, Travis Benjamin might see some time as a “Z” receiver.

With that said, expect Cameron to devote at least 45 percent of his snaps at the aforesaid position. Browns’ fans should also anticipate Gary Barnidge lining up as a traditional in-line tight end, which will free up Cameron to be utilized as a moveable chess piece to generate mismatches. With the release of Anthony Armstrong, the Browns will also be looking for contributions from their young wide receivers such as the speedy Taylor Gabriel, and Willie Snead, who is a precision route runner.

In an effort to manufacture offense, the Browns will also lean heavily on their running game which is why they acquired Ben Tate in free agency, and Terrance West in the draft.  Look for the Browns to run the ball often toward the left side behind future Hall of Famer, Joe Thomas, and talented rookie left guard Joel Bitonio.

Pettine has stated that while Hoyer has been named the starter, a package involving Johnny Manziel is NOT off the table. If the Browns are unable to develop any semblance of offensive continuity with Hoyer, they will be sure to employ a read-option attack in an effort to set up the play-action pass.

Josh Gordon Body I

Many fans will look toward the Browns’ defense as their ray of light to permeate these clouds of darkness, but they actually had one of the better defenses in the NFL in 2013. Statistically it appears as though the Browns struggled on defense last season, but many of the statistics are skewed as a result of multiple late game collapses.

The Browns’ late game collapses on defense stemmed from their offense’s inability to sustain drives, and give the defense a rest. Moreover, when the defense is consistently on the field, it takes away from the time necessary to view photos and make the requisite adjustments.

Last season the Browns rated 29th in time of possession, and have done next to nothing in the offseason to improve upon their ability to move the chains, and score points. If they are unable to find a way to consistently manufacture offense without Gordon, time of possession on offense might actually be less than the meager 28 minutes per game they achieved last season.

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