Well, that certainly didn’t take long. Mere minutes after I called the NFL out for yet another delay regarding the ruling on Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon’s suspension appeal, they responded. Gordon is done for the entire year, as the league denied his appeal entirely.
There will certainly be plenty of aftermath in this decision, especially questioning the NFL’s archaic drug policy and the fact Gordon is banned for a year thanks to failing his drug test by a hair. At the end of the day though, if Gordon hadn’t put himself in Stage III of the league’s drug program, we wouldn’t be here in the first place.
For the Browns themselves, the real issue is where exactly they go from here. All preseason long, many wondered how the team was going find ways to score offensively. Now? You have to wonder if they’ll touch the endzone at all this year.
Through three preseason games, Cleveland’s offense has looked like the utter definition of inept. They’ve struggled to move the ball, regardless of who’s starting at quarterback. One of the main reasons behind this was the issues at wideout, as drops plagued the entire receiving corps. Beyond Gordon, there was no legitimate threat to be found in the passing game. Today, thanks to the removal of the “beyond Gordon” aspect of the offense, the Browns possibly have one of the worst wideout groups in the NFL.
Do you realize Cleveland now has Miles Austin, who has hamstrings made of tissue paper, tabbed as their top receiver? He’s joined by players like Nate Burelson (if he’s healthy), Andrew Hawkins and future practice squad all-stars. Find me a defense that will be forced to spend a ton of time game-planning against this. I’ll wait.
The Browns are going to have to rely heavily on an upgraded running attack if they hope to consistently move the ball this season. And while Ben Tate and Terrance West are much better than whoever lined up in the backfield for Cleveland last year, they can’t do it all. They’re almost certainly going to see defenses stacked up against the run practically every play, merely because of how non-threatening the receivers are.
It’s been mentioned before, but a finger of blame needs to be pointed towards Browns GM Ray Farmer. He knew the team could lose Gordon for an entire year as far back as April, and yet he brought in absolutely no help beyond Austin and Burleson as a result. Such ignorance of a red flag this big could cost the team mightily this year, and Farmer will hear about it with every low-scoring loss the Browns come across.
There’s still time to try and find some help. Armed with plenty of draft picks, Farmer could scour the market looking for a deal to help the passing game. At the same time, he’s had said picks since a couple weeks after he caught wind of Gordon’s possible suspension, and hasn’t pulled the trigger. If he does try to wheel and deal, he might not get the kind of quality return he may have been able to acquire earlier in the summer.
Regardless, as of right now, Cleveland’s offense has been decimated. Gordon was seen by many as a player the team just couldn’t afford to lose, and now he’s gone for the entire season.
Godspeed, Brian Hoyer. Your first year as the team’s starter just got a whole lot more imposing.