Flash Gordon (10-261) Is All Cleveland Has Right Now
By Steven King
The Cleveland Browns and WR Josh Gordon are headed in opposite directions.
And at home at FirstEnergy Stadium, no less.
For the second straight week, Gordon is reaching for the stars while at the same time the team has reached a low ebb.
A week ago in a disgusting, non-competitive performance in a 27-11 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gordon tied a team record with 14 receptions and set one with 237 receiving yards.
On Sunday, Gordon broke his own team mark with 261 receiving yards on 10 catches, becoming the first player in NFL history to have 200-yard receiving performances in back-to-back games. But the Browns still somehow found a way to blow a three-point lead down the stretch and stumble and bumble their way to a 32-28 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jacksonville scored the game-winner with 40 seconds left on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne to Cecil Shorts, a product of Cleveland Collinwood High School and the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio.
These are the same Jaguars who were 0-8 just a month ago but have won two in as row and three of their last four to climb to 3-9. Conversely, these are same Browns who were 3-2 at one point two months ago but have lost three in a row and six of their last seven to drop to 4-8, just a game better than Jacksonville.
Afterward, the Jaguars were letting out cheer after orchestrated cheer in their locker room. Little things mean a lot, as they should for a team trying to build. And the Browns locker room was like a morgue – except, of course, for the profanity-laced tirade of their best defensive player, CB Joe Haden, who, maybe as he should or should not do, expressed frustration over the incessant losing.
For the second week in a row, though, Haden had a hand in the losing.
The offense coughed and wheezed once more in most respects against Jacksonville, with QB Brandon Weeden committing three turnvrers -- two interceptions and a fumble – near the end of the first half that the Jasguars converted into 13 points and a 20-14 halftime lead.
Then halfway through the fourth quarter, C Alex Mack snapped the ball over Weeden’s head in a shotgun formation, forcing the quarterback to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety to avert the Jags falling on it for a touchdown. The Jags then took the free kick and marched for a field goal.
In all, then, the ball security problems of the Cleveland offense paved the way for Jacksonville to score 18 of its 32 points.
Yes, Weeden threw for a career-high 370 yards and three touchdowns, including a 95-yarder to Gordon that put the Browns ahead 28-25 with 3:55 left, but his two costly interceptions, along with a less-than-stellar resume otherwise in his two-year career, are stopping fans just short of comparing him to Pro Football Hall of Famer Otto Graham.
And did we mention that Weeden also made mention of some concussion-like symptoms afterward? That’s the same problem that kept QB Jason Campbell on the bench Sunday.
Get warmed up, newcomer Alex Tanney.
As bad as Weeden, Mack and the offense overall was – and they were pretty bad – Haden was worse, getting beaten by Shorts on the winning touchdown throw, culminating an eight-play, 80-yard drive thar ripped through a defense that coordinator Ray Horton promised would be markedly better after Thanksgiving. Are we past Thanksgiving yet?
Anyway, giving up the score far overshadowed the fact Weeden had Cleveland’s lone interception in the game.
The Browns, their once-promising season having long since gone the way of the warm summer winds, have four games remaining. If they run the table and lose each one, they run the risk, with a final mark of 4-12 and with a season-ending seven-game losing streak, of ruining all the positives gained from their 3-2 start.
As such, the rest of the season – except for watching Gordon, the player who was rumored in trade talks earlier this year -- will be pure misery. The loyal Browns fans deserve better. They deserve a teamful of Josh Gordons.