What can Browns fans reasonably expect from their former star Josh Gordon?
As if things weren’t strange enough in Cleveland, a ghost from its recent past returns to meetings and conditioning work this week. Josh Gordon, a 2013 Pro Bowl receiver who led the league in yards despite missing two games that year due to suspension, has not taken an NFL snap since Dec. 21, 2014.
Not much has changed in Cleveland since Gordon’s lengthy suspension and reinstatement process. The Browns (0-8) couldn’t manage to stumble out of the trade deadline without a Letterman-worthy gaffe. Their head coach seems fed up. Their quarterback, DeShone Kizer, looks like he is hanging on to sanity by a fingernail.
Can Gordon help in any way? And what can we reasonably expect from someone who has not taken an NFL snap in almost three years?
If Gordon returns and plays in the first game he’s eligible, that will mark 1,078 days (25,872 hours, 154 weeks) since his last NFL action. That kind of gap between starts is long, but not unprecedented. Imagine being Todd Collins, the former Washington quarterback who waited a full decade between starts.
After a 20-14 loss to the Jaguars back on Dec. 14, 1997, it took Collins, then with the Bills, until Dec. 16, 2007 before he jogged off the sidelines with the first string. His stat line for the afternoon was 8-of-25 (32 percent completion rate) for 166 yards and no touchdowns. Washington beat the Giants 22-10 at the Meadowlands and went on to win their final two games with Collins at the helm. They lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Seattle Seahawks (Collins threw 50–50!!–passes in the defeat).
"It's been a long road and I've done my best to keep myself ready for every challenge, every week," Collins told The New York Times after the 10-year hiatus was broken. "I was never sure how it would all turn out, but I remained persistent and I kept myself prepared, just in case I'd have another opportunity. This is my turn and I have to make the most of it."
Gordon’s situation is obviously different. He plays a skill position and while there has been reports of his training (former Olympic sprinter Tim Montgomery has been involved) and an Instagram page peppered with workout shots and videos, it would take a small miracle—and some type of stability at the quarterback position—for this comeback to gain steam. Here’s hoping I’m wrong—Gordon was jaw-dropping in 2013. His long, effortless stride and raw physicality at the position were something to behold, something the Browns could have used over the last 1,078 days.
NOW ON THE MMQB: A day stacked with content from millennial wunderkinds … Newsletter guru Jacob Feldman, who was kind enough to let me opine in this space for one morning, has a fun read catching up with some of the Ram faithful remaining in St. Louis … Kalyn Kahler has an exhaustively reported (and fun) oral history of Dallas Cowboy quarterbacks … And if you haven’t listened yet, Peter King’s podcast with investigative journalist Don Van Natta is live—they explore the future of commissioner Roger Goodell.
LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: A jam-packed Thursday: Andy Benoit spends 24 hours with Vontaze Burfict ... Jonathan Jones reports on Bill Belichick’s obsession with special teams ... and Albert Breer’s Game Plan column will be live.
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