Cleveland Browns Receiver Josh Gordon: X-Factor vs. Baltimore Ravens
Wide receiver Josh Gordon is currently second in the NFL with 18.2 yards-per-reception and is quietly emerging as one of the best deep threats in football. While playing in Cleveland may hurt his notoriety, don’t kid yourself in thinking defensive coordinators don’t think about this guy each time they formulate a game plan to stop the Browns.
Baltimore was fortunate to miss out on Gordon during their first meeting in Week 2 as the Ravens prevailed with a 14-6 nail-biting victory at M&T Bank Stadium. The 22-year-old was missing in action due to serving the second game of his two-game suspension, but Baltimore won’t be as lucky as to miss him this time around.
The former Baylor Bear has the ability to stretch the field and is one of two solid options quarterback Jason Campbell has at his disposal. Luckily for Gordon, tight end Jordan Cameron will draw some attention away as the Ravens have struggled all season long with their linebackers and safeties in stopping tight ends in the seams and in general.
The way the Ravens set up their defense is more based on sides of the field rather than matchups, so it’ll be interesting to see where the Browns line up Gordon. At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, he provides matchup problems for virtually any secondary, but I would imagine he will be placed on Corey Graham‘s right side of the football field to stay away from Lardarius Webb on the left.
While Gordon isn’t the best route runner and isn’t the most reliable third-down target, look for the Browns to utilize him more on the outside rather than the inside. A guy like Jimmy Smith in the nickel package could be huge for this game as he is probably the only corner capable of matching the physical tools of Gordon. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, the 25-year-old Smith could look to utilize that size by pressing Gordon at the line of scrimmage. While that is no guarantee of deterring him from a solid afternoon, trying to compete with him step-for-step is foolish.
Regardless of how the Ravens plan to stop him, Cleveland will look to Gordon enough for him to have success Sunday. I project a 100-yard, one-touchdown performance from the second-year stud wideout even if the Ravens overly prepare for what he brings to the table offensively.