WR Josh Gordon needs to deliver early and often for the Browns with expectations set high.
In today's edition of "The Sunday Five," we take a look at the big role Josh Gordon will play compared to Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson, the team's projected inactives, and the fact that the team will not be honoring the late Art Modell prior to the game.
When you think about Cleveland's offense to begin the season, Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson come to mind. What about Josh Gordon, though? When offensive coordinator Brad Childress met with the media on Thursday, he talked about Gordon's sudden transition to the NFL. We have heard bits and pieces of this before, but hearing Childress' spin on things is interesting:
(On Josh Gordon’s progress) – "His evolution has been complete. I’m told that he didn’t decide to apply for the hardship draft until two days before he decided to do that. All of a sudden, two days before he decides to do that and then he’s drafted, bang, and then there’s the, ‘Oh okay, I’m not in college anymore.’ You come (to Cleveland). He nursed a little bit of a strain in his quad early on. He had to get up to football shape. I think he thought he was preparing to go back to the University of Utah at a point in time in the summer, (and) then all of a sudden you’re going to be at an NFL camp at the end of July. Just the conditioning, getting in shape, learning our system, learning you can’t play fast if you don’t understand. (I’m) watching him become more fluid, and play faster because he’s starting to get it. I think it’s a really whole evolution that he has gone through."
The quarterback. The running back. The wide receiver. Cleveland originally planned on stopping at the first two positions, but Gordon's decision to enter the supplemental draft gave the Browns an opportunity to accelerate the development of this team. In a weird way, even though he was only a second-round pick, it almost seems like a higher priority has been placed on Gordon to succeed. I guess it goes with the thought that since supplemental picks are rare, especially second-round picks, the player had better be worth it.
I have built a wall of anxiety when it comes to Gordon. When I saw him several times in camp, while other teams came away impressed, I came away concerned. Heading into the regular season, I still think Travis Benjamin and Joshua Cribbs should be seeing reps over him. Hopefully Gordon proves me wrong, but things have not gone very well when Brandon Weeden looked his way during the preseason. Quarterbacks need to have confidence in their receiver, too, and I give Weeden credit if he hasn't been phased by the times Gordon has hung him out to dry already.
Not only is the first game of the season important, but the first play and the first series, especially in your first home game of the year, are crucial to a volatile franchise like the Browns. I remember being at last year's opener against the Bengals like it was yesterday. The crowd was so pumped during the pre-game festivities. Then, on Cleveland's first play of the game, a defensive lineman tipped Colt McCoy's pass in the air. McCoy caught his own tip, and ended up losing five yards on the play. The stadium was deflated, and a false start penalty a few plays later didn't help either. I'm not saying the Browns need to march on down for a touchdown right off the bat against Philadelphia, but let's hope the culture change on offense at least prevents us from losing yardage en route to a three-and-out.
It's always interesting to predict who the team's gameday inactives will be and why. There are 54 players on the roster this week, which is one more than usual because the Browns were granted a roster exemption for the late removal of Scott Fujita from the suspended list. The Browns can still only suit up 46 players on gameday, so they will need eight inactives against the Eagles. My projected inactives are as follows: QB Thaddeus Lewis, RB Chris Ogbonnaya, WR Jordan Norwood, OT Oniel Cousins, LB James-Michael Johnson, LB Tank Carder, S Tashaun Gipson, and CB Trevin Wade. That would have Cleveland going thin on the offensive line (seven players) and at linebacker (five players, including Fujita).
The Browns cancelled their plans to recognize the late Art Modell before the game at Cleveland Browns Stadium this Sunday. According to the Plain Dealer, "the Browns had planned just a brief read over the public address system. No moment of silence or photos on the scoreboard were to be included." Personally, I thought that would have been the most appropriate tribute given the situation, assuming Cleveland had to do something. Still, Mike Holmgren and company had to know the ire many fans had for Modell and how negative Cleveland would look to outsiders who don't quite "get" the history. When Holmgren contacted Dave Modell, Art's son, Dave suggested to Holmgren that the Browns not do a tribute.
"David told Mike that he really appreciated the call and the offer, but that he knew it would not be totally accepted by the Cleveland fans,'' Byrne said. "David suggested that the Browns not do a tribute.''
I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a win-win in this situation. I think this is what most Browns fans want -- for us to be able to focus on the 2012 team taking on the Philadelphia Eagles -- but I just have a feeling that when I watch the CBS and FOX pregame shows this morning, the situation in Cleveland is going to be brought up...negatively. That's just the way it is. After this week, though, maybe fans who reviled him can finally close this chapter in their lives.
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-Scouting the Philadelphia Eagles, Week 1
-Predict the Browns' First Offensive Play, Tackle, and Touchdown
-Pokorny's Week 1 NFL Picks
-Practice/Injury Report for Eagles/Browns