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Sunday, October 20, 2013
More needed from Gordon on key pass

By Pat McManamon

D'Qwell Jackson scoffed at the notion that the difference between the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns is that Aaron Rodgers plays for the Packers and not the Browns.

"I can come up with 100 different excuses why we didn't win," Jackson said. "We just didn't win."

The quarterback play was a factor. Rodgers is one of the best and Brandon Weeden is trying to make it. Rodgers had two injured receivers for this game, but threw 10 times to Jarrett Boykin. He had one catch coming in, but had eight for 103 yards and a touchdown against the Browns.

Josh Gordon
Josh Gordon was targeted six times Sunday against the Packers but he came up with just two catches for 21 yards.
Weeden needs to help his team the same way, though for Weeden it's not nearly as simple, or easy.

Weeden needs help, and when he does the players around him need to provide it. Wide receiver Josh Gordon has immense talent, clearly more talent than anyone else on the Browns' offense. But against the Packers he was handled by Sam Shields and Davon House.

This simply should not happen -- not if Gordon wants to be among the elite in the league, which he says he does.

Gordon also needs to go after every ball like it's his life savings. If he doesnt, it matters.

Early in the fourth quarter, the game was still a game. The Browns offense was struggling, but the defense wasn't -- and one key play could have changed the tenor of things.

The Packers led 17-6 when Browns coach Rob Chudzinski went for the first down on fourth-and-15 from the Green Bay 31. He bypassed a long field goal attempt because he felt the odds were not in the team's favor kicking into the wind.

So he went for the first down.

And Weeden threw a high pass down the left sideline to Gordon, who was covered but had space to catch the ball.

But instead of going up aggressively for the ball, Gordon let it come to him. He tried to cradle it in his body, which gave House a chance to knock the ball away. Receivers are taught to catch with their hands, not with their body. Gordon tried to catch with his body.

"It seemed like it was a playable ball," Chudzinski said. "And you'd like to see him come up with that catch."

Had Gordon extended his arms and gone after the ball, he'd have clearly had the strength and position to come down with it. That was not the play for a half-hearted effort. Not at that point in the game.

Gordon, though, thought his effort wasn't half-hearted.

"I definitely think I did attack it the way I usually do," Gordon said. "The DB made a great play on the ball."

House made a great play on the ball because Gordon gave him the chance to make the play. A guy like Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green or even Anquan Boldin doesn't give the defensive back that chance. It's what elite receivers do.

After the game Gordon and Little both were short and curt with their responses. That's their right; the team did lose.

But if that attitude was a reflection of their lack of faith in Weeden, it spells trouble for the Browns.

Because they aren't good enough to beat a team without every player doing everything he can to win. If the team truly believes in Weeden, it has to play like it does.

On that play, Gordon did not.