Tyrod Taylor, Browns aim to target Josh Gordon more

Gordon targeted just 3 times in 69 plays against Steelers

Daryl Ruiter
September 12, 2018 - 5:11 pm
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Joe Haden (23) breaks up a pass intended for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

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Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The good teams find ways to get their best players the ball.

The Cleveland Browns are still trying to figure out how to be and do both.

Josh Gordon, arguably one of the most talented receivers in the game – when he’s allowed to play – played 69 snaps against the Steelers but was targeted just 3 times and had 4 footballs thrown in his general direction in the 21-21 tie.

“Josh, when he is going like we know he can, he has an opportunity to make plays,” head coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday. “He has to continue to work to be in the right spot. We have to give him opportunities, and I think that we will do that.”

Gordon isn’t complaining about the targets, and he felt he was still able to do his part despite getting so few chances to catch footballs against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I think I went out there and served my purpose that I was supposed to do, whether it be distracting the safety to get somebody else open,” Gordon said Wednesday. “I don’t even think about the targets until somebody mentioned it at the end of the game, but I was just going to keep on running until I got the opportunity.”

The Saints await this week in New Orleans and they’re a perfect example of a good team finding a way to get the ball into the hands of their top playmaker.

Despite a 48-40 loss to Tampa Bay, Drew Brees targeted Michael Thomas, who has quickly emerged as one of the top wideouts in the game, 17 times and Thomas caught 16 of them for 180 yards and a touchdown.

“Obviously, I have a lot of trust and confidence in him," Brees said. "That is just the way that the game went. If you look at all of our games, we spread the ball around quite a bit. It is hard to kind of key on one guy. It just happened to be one of those games where I think he was in the right position at the right time and was getting those opportunities.”

That's the same trust that quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who completed just 15 of 40 passes against the Steelers, and Gordon need to build. Taylor admitted that Gordon needs to be more involved in the passing game.

“We can do a better job of getting him the ball and getting him opportunities to make plays,” Taylor said. “That starts with myself.”

That wasn’t the only thing Taylor took responsibility for Wednesday.

Taylor, who hooked up with Gordon with just under 2-minutes to play on a 17-yard touchdown to tie the game at 21, underthrew Gordon on a deep ball up the far sideline that was intercepted with 16 seconds left in regulation.

“It was a miscommunication,” Taylor said. “I will take the blame for that.”

Gordon tried to make a play on the ball but the throw was just too short.

“I wasn’t really for sure what had happened back there in the pocket,” Gordon said. “I was just out there running my route and the ball came out, I gotta adjust to the ball as I see it. If it’s short, you gotta try to make a play on it and knock it down or something. The guy was in a good position to come down with it unfortunately.”

Jackson felt there were more opportunities for both Taylor and Gordon to link up against the Steelers but the responsibility is shared by both players for not taking advantage.

“There were some chances,” Jackson said, “and there were some chances where we have to do a better job of running the routes – not just Josh, I think all of our receivers – as an offensive unit, it is a thing that we have to continue to work through, and understand that when the opportunities present themselves, we have a chance to make those plays.”

Gordon’s only other official target came with 3:50 left in the third on a deep ball to the middle of the end zone that was broken up by former Browns cornerback Joe Haden, which Gordon felt should’ve drawn a flag.

“Definitely pass interference,” Gordon said. “But that’s just how the game goes, some calls are made, some aren’t. you just gotta get back up.”

The other ball thrown in Gordon’s direction came early in the fourth quarter, but Steelers cornerback Artie Burns was flagged for pass interference giving the Browns 18 yards.

Following the underwhelming Week 1 debut, Gordon doesn't think Taylor deserves the amount of criticism he's received since Sunday.

“It never falls on one person. That’s just how the nature or the politics of the game goes,” Gordon said. “It’s always going to fall on the head coach or the quarterback in some type of way but we all know that’s not the case. Everybody plays a part, everybody has a job and a role to do and if somebody falls short, the rest will take the brunt of that. It’s definitely not all on him.”