Steven King

Josh Gordon Made Mistakes, But The Browns Made More

Created on Jul. 12, 2014 5:00 AM EST

By now, the whole sports world knows that Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon made mistakes – big mistakes, and a lot of them – in putting himself into a position where he will certainly be suspended for this season by the NFL, and may end up getting penalized even more severely.

Alleged drug problems. Driving while intoxicated charges. Speeding charges – twice.

It all adds up – quickly, especially in the eyes of no-nonsense NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. And Gordon will pay dearly for it.

But the Browns have also done very much wrong here – so much so, in fact, that it’s staggering.

They needed to get Gordon help long before we got to this point. His problems go way beyond the football field. He is sick – very sick. They should have hired a personal assistant – a very well-compensated bodyguard – to be with him at all times to keep him on the straight and narrow. Gordon is an investment, but he can’t help Cleveland if he’s banished from the game. The Browns were penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Now Gordon’s future – both on and off the field – is muddled at best. Will he ever play again? Will Cleveland release him? Who knows?

And the team’s situation at wide receiver is worse than muddled. It’s a complete and unmitigated disaster. Without Gordon, the Browns have the worse group of wide receivers in the NFL, and also the worst they’ve ever had.

But they could have solved the problem – or at least greatly minimized it – by staying at No. 4 overall in this year’s NFL Draft and taking Clemson WR Sammy Watkins. He may be a Gordon in the making.

Cleveland didn’t take Watkins, though, choosing instead to trade down to No. 8 and selecting CB Justin Gilbert. To be sure, Gilbert is a great cover man, but today’s NFL is about offense, not defense. You have to outscore the opposition. With everything else being equal, you always – always -- take a great offensive player over a great defensive player. Watkins would have been much valuable than Gilbert will be. It’s just that simple.

The Browns will argue that they got the Buffalo Bills’ first-round draft pick in 2015 by moving down just four spots. But when Cleveland is unable to stretch the field in 2014 and its offense struggles, that choice in 2015 is worth absolutely nothing.

The fact the Browns did all this knowing full well beforehand that Gordon was already in danger of getting sidelined by the league, is hard to fathom. Did they think that Webster Slaughter, Reggie Langhorne and Brian Brennan were going to come out of retirement and save the day?

The trade – orchestrated by GM Ray Farmer and rubber-stamped by new coach Mike Pettine -- reeked badly of something that former CEO Joe Banner and former GM Michael Lombardi would have done. When you do something way off the charts to try to prove you’re the smartest guys in the room, you end up proving you’re just the opposite.


On another note, the firing – it wasn’t a resignation, as declared by the Browns, but rather a firing – of media relations director Zak Gilbert is troubling. His replacement will be the team’s third media chief in less than three years. The Browns aren’t going through just head coaches in dizzying fashion. They’re also doing so in the front office. The word is that Pettine didn’t like Gilbert, likely over the handling – or lack thereof -- of the Johnny Manziel media frenzy. Whatever the case, the bigger issue is: what is going on in that building?

But it doesn’t stop there. Director of Content and Production Andy Hecht, whose arrival not that long ago was viewed as a real coup by the team, wants out. The Browns are the picture of dysfunctional right now, so they better get a handle on this ASAP…or else.

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