With the selections for the NFL’s 2013 All-Pro team being released on Friday, you might have expected a ton of controversy and talk about snubs. However, that was hardly the case and most of the discussion really only centered on Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning being a unanimous selection to the squad.
Obviously Manning being the only quarterback to receive votes is a pretty big deal and an honor that the savvy veteran is deserving of, but that’s not the only reason that Manning dominated the conversation. Another big reason is the fact that the voters, for the most part, got the selections right.
One of the only areas that people really had bones to pick regarding was the first-team wide receiver voting. The two first-team wide receivers were voted to be Calvin Johnson (obviously) and Cleveland Browns’ juggernaut Josh Gordon. With guys like A.J. Green and Antonio Brown coming behind Gordon and getting just a second-team nod, many people pegged Gordon as not fully deserving and some even called his first-team selection a “fantasy football pick.”
While you can’t argue with the production of players like Brown and Green, I’m not sure how you can slight Gordon by calling him a fantasy football pick and not recognize how incredible he was for Cleveland this season.
For starters, Gordon led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,646, eclipsing the second-placed Brown by a hefty 147 yards. Gordon also caught nine touchdown passes and led the league with catches for more than 20 yards with 30. Oh yeah, he also accomplished all of this after being suspended for the first two games of the season.
What makes his numbers explode off of the page even more is considering the offense that he was playing in. The Browns, after trading Trent Richardson, were one of the worst rushing offenses in the league. Teams were able to key in on the passing game against them. Adding to that, Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron were the only reliable options in that passing attack. If you need proof of that, Gordon was targeted 159 times this season and caught 87 passes. Greg Little was the second-ranked wide receiver in Cleveland in terms of workload and he was targeted only 99 times and made only 41 catches for 465 yards.
Gordon getting selected to the All-Pro first team shouldn’t be looked at as a slight to the other players, but more as a testament to the phenomenal work that he put in this season. He was the only reliable weapon in this Browns’ offense and still found ways to beat defenses keying in on him. With all that he did this year, it seems like not putting him on the first team would be more of an insult than doing so.