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Josh Gordon to Start for Browns Against Chargers

For the first time since December of 2014, Josh Gordon is going to play in an NFL football game. Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson has announced that Gordon will start (!) at wide receiver this Sunday when the Browns take on the Los Angeles Chargers.

Blessed with prodigious physical talent, Gordon has struggled with addiction issues before he even started playing college football. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Gordon says he was making $10,000 a month selling marijuana while playing for Baylor. He was suspended there for failing a drug test (imagine how big a headache you would have to be for Art Briles to kick you out of the program) and eventually found his way to the NFL's supplemental draft in 2012. He had a transcendent season in 2013, leading the league in receiving yards despite missing two games. (And he did it with Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, and Brian Hoyer at quarterback.) Since the AFL merger in 1970, only Calvin Johnson in 2012 has ever averaged more yards per game in a non-strike season. However, Gordon has been suspended by the NFL or by the Browns on five separate occasions since 2013, following failed tests for marijuana, codeine and alcohol.

After sitting out all of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Gordon was conditionally reinstated on November 1, and began practicing with the team on November 20. Should he stay healthy (and clean), he will have five games against the Chargers, Packers, Ravens, Bears, and Steelers to build his resume. He will then be a restricted free agent after the season.

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27 comments, Last at 04 Dec 2017, 1:37pm

1 Re: Josh Gordon To Start For Browns Against Chargers

Good luck to the guy. Has pretty much missed three of the years when his athletic talent is peaking.

I'd like to hope for him as a person that he's finally past all the addiction stuff but with that many relapses, I'm doubtful it won't reoccur at some point in his life.

2 Re: Josh Gordon To Start For Browns Against Chargers

This is absolutely one of those "hope for the best, expect the worst" situations; I really, really hope he's gained enough maturity and treatment to where he can deal with his addiction on a daily basis, but it's hard to feel confident. There have to be so many triggers for that behavior in the Browns facility and around Cleveland, so it's got to be a difficult place to try to stay in recovery.

16 Re: Josh Gordon To Start For Browns Against Chargers

I can't help but think that his long term chances would be better if the Browns had released him, and he'd gone to play for the Patriots, or Steelers, or Seahawks, or some other franchise that at-least appears to know what they're doing.

There's a lot more to it, but I can't see a dysfunctional work environment helping.

3 Re: Josh Gordon To Start For Browns Against Chargers

How do you make $10k/month selling WEED? Was he selling dimes of schwag for $50 or something? I know Texas is a crappy place to live, but even so what college students are dumb enough to go for that?

He has to be lying, $10k is more than 3 lbs of weed, and that's not even counting the money you have to take out to get your next 3 lbs. In contrast, in Colorado, you're allowed to have 2 OUNCES at a time.

5 Re: Josh Gordon To Start For Browns Against Chargers

I'm not sure why it's so, but it seems to be conventional wisdom in a lot of places that Texas is a terrible place to live (for example, here in Toronto it's a pretty common viewpoint). When dug into the logic from Canadians seems to be "Texas = American Conservatives = Horrible Judgmental People = Bad place to live", at least from the sample of people in my extended family. Seems to me silly to me, but people think it, not sure if this is common elsewhere?

15 Re: Josh Gordon To Start For Browns Against Chargers

I agree it was a sweeping statement, but come on, "no idea why"?

I can think of a number of nice things about the prospect of living in Texas, including:
- Warm weather
- Relatively cheap housing
- Relatively good employment market (note, these last two fully explain the net migration)
- Cool cultural stuff in many of the urban centers, esp. Austin/San Antonio

But I can also think of a number of reasons I wouldn't want to live in Texas, including:
- Too damn hot a lot of the time
- The same policies that lead to cheap housing lead to long commutes and traffic
- Southern culture isn't my thing/Conservative intolerance, etc
- Fire Ants

18 Re: Josh Gordon to Start for Browns Against Chargers

Martavis Bryant has been rusty this year after one season off and then a return in time for the preseason. Gordon has had just two weeks of practice to get back into it after three years away from football. Plus he has to learn a new offense and get in sync with a rookie QB. I'm skeptical that he can produce much in the last few weeks of the season, not that the Browns have anything to lose by trying.

The good news for Cleveland is that he will be an Exclusive Rights Free Agent after this season. As far as I can tell from googling byzantine NFL contact terminology, that means they offer him a one year deal of something like $3M and he has no choice but to sign. That buys them another year to evaluate him, or great leverage to lock him up for longer if they really think he's turned his life around.

21 Re: Josh Gordon to Start for Browns Against Chargers

"He will then be a restricted free agent after the season."

I thought that this was considered a non-accrued season, as 2014 waa, since he again has less than 6 games, so his 3rd accrued year, barring another suspension, will be next year; as JTR noted in #18, he will be on a "ERFA" contract during said "3rd year."

Not just accounting for how far below typical WR1 market value his vet contract will be due to suspension risk, or accounting for suspended games without pay to date, it's pretty amazing how much money he's already lost from having his next contract not start until his mid-to-late prime.

22 Re: Josh Gordon to Start for Browns Against Chargers

As a Browns fan, what's your feeling on how likely Jackson and/or Brown are to get fired this offseason? It could really hurt Gordon (and really just the offense in general) if they end up with a new coach next year. That coach would be even less committed to Kizer than Jackson has been, and you probably end up with a big QB juggle where the new coach puts in a half-hearted effort to work with Kizer before benching him midseason for His Guy, which tends to be a low drafted rookie or a backup qb from new coach's last team. All of which would mean for bad offense and bad QB play, which would make it very hard for Gordon to distinguish himself in his prove-it season before his first chance to hit free agency.

23 Re: Josh Gordon to Start for Browns Against Chargers

Kizer is likely a lame duck at this point regardless, as Colt McCoy was by mid-2011, Weeden by early 2013, etc. Regardless of whether it's Sashi Brown, Peyton Manning, etc. making the picks this coming April, they're not going to pass over a QB with a top-2 pick 3 years in a row.

It is very difficult to tell what the Berea org chart will look like after this season, as the Haslams have indicated patience with a long-term, 76ers-style rebuild, but Hue is showing the same types of power struggle issues i.e. the "need a perfect game to win" quote, that led to his departure from Oakland, and the McCarron trade fiasco left egg on everyone's face. Many are wondering if there is a way to keep Gregg Williams on staff with Hue gone, i.e. as interim and then head coach, with someone with the same system like Singletary as DC. Others are looking for more cooks in the kitchen, i.e. Peyton Manning - who is close with the Haslams and was recently in town, albeit only for a Congressional fundraiser for Anthony Gonzales - and making Hue get an OC.

What we also know is that the players are not mailing it in under Hue as is common for struggling teams.

As far as Gordon adjusting to a new scheme, didn't seem to affect him in 2013; the best seem to not be affected much by these sorts of changes - see Joe Thomas, and Alex Mack when he was here.

24 Re: Josh Gordon to Start for Browns Against Chargers

I used to believe in giving coaches time to build but when you go almost winless in back-to-back seasons I have to question if the coach is up to it. Jacksonville wasted 5 years on Gus Bradley and look at what they've got now. Likewise the Rams and Jeff Fisher.

The Jets were destined to go 0-16 this year with the worst roster in the league yet somehow Todd Bowles has got them competitive this year. They won't be making the playoffs but he's shown something with what was supposed to be a crappy roster.

The tough part is that the Browns have repetitively scrapped coaches after 1-2 seasons so getting rid of Hue just looks like a continuation of that. Seems to me that they need to look at their hiring process and organisational (dys)functionality.

25 Re: Josh Gordon to Start for Browns Against Chargers

"The Jets were destined to go 0-16 this year with the worst roster in the league yet somehow Todd Bowles has got them competitive this year"

Agree, Bowles has been the biggest reason the Jets haven't been as bad as on paper the last several years.

Their sort-of-success with McCown raises the question: Given the Browns pass DVOA is -37.4% - 17 behind the Colts for last! - and the Jets are 21st at 2.9%, with the Browns' other phases of the game really not being that bad on balance - rushing 5th, rush D 2nd, pass D 27th, special teams 29th - should the Browns have kept McCown on board at least one more year, to allow Kizer to "sit and learn" ?

Of course, there are all of the other what-ifs, most recently passing over Carson Wentz and then DeShaun Watson. Really, the what-ifs can be traced back at least to Kellen Winslow over Ben Roethlisberger, and Tim Couch over Donovan McNabb...

26 Re: Josh Gordon to Start for Browns Against Chargers

It's kind of ironic. The Browns are supposed to be embracing a new school, "analytic" approach. Yet according to DVOA, their biggest strengths -- their only strengths, to be honest -- are running the ball and stopping the run -- which is the epitome of the old school, "conventional wisdom" approach.