Josh Gordon has been back to his usual on-field self in two games back for the Cleveland Browns, after missing the team’s (surprisingly successful) first ten for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Gordon has been targeted a ridiculous 29 times through two games, catching 15 balls for 195 yards. Though he has not quite returned to his 18.9 yards per catch average from last season, 13 per catch isn’t bad either.
And all this with in an offense that is suddenly short on quarterback quality. Brian Hoyer had led the charge for Cleveland this year, but Johnny Manziel was brought in late in the game against the Bills on Sunday after Hoyer went 18 for 30 with 192 yards and two picks. Coach Mike Pettine didn’t commit to either Hoyer or Manziel after the 26-10 loss, but either quarterback would be crazy not to target Gordon.
As we all know, Gordon has the skill to burn defenses. But in this brief six-game window at the end of the season, he has extra motivation to remind the world why he was one of the most exciting players in the NFL last year. In an interview with NFL.com, Gordon explained that he felt like many of his friends and teammates alike ostracized him during his suspension.
An angry Gordon is a scary thing. Despite their loss to the Bills last weekend, the Browns are very much in the playoff mix at the moment. Current NFL futures odds have them listed at a reasonable +600 to win the extremely-close AFC North, and that number would jump dramatically if they could knock off the Bengals in Week 15.
It remains to be seen if the quarterback controversy in Ohio will hold Josh Gordon back, but nonetheless it’s clear that one of the NFL’s brightest stars has come through the smoke and into the spotlight.