When Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers was over, Gordon was another receiver on a team that had just fallen to 0-12.
“Football is what I’ve been doing my whole life,” Gordon said of his first game after missing 44 to team and NFL suspensions. “New stadium … that’s about it.”
Gordon referred to the StubHub Center where the Chargers will play until the new stadium in Los Angeles is ready. His overall feeling: Excited he was back, but unhappy that he could not do more to keep the Browns from their 12th loss in 12 games. He even said there was no magic moment for him before the game, that he’d gone through those emotions in practice back in Cleveland.
He was simply a guy who had four catches for 85 yards for a losing team.
“We got a lot more work to do,” Gordon said. “I’m just trying to go out there and make sure I do my job to the best of my ability, try to execute and make sure we have a lot of fun doing it.”
Going 0-12 hasn’t been fun for anyone, and DeShone Kizer and Gordon would look back after this 19-10 loss and lament missed opportunities. In the first half, Gordon sped past safety Adrian Phillips and was wide open for a touchdown, but Kizer overthrew him. In the third quarter, Gordon was open down the sidelines but Kizer underthrew him and the pass was broken up.
“You definitely want to get those, all of those,” Gordon said. “Like I said, live in a game you can’t get any of those back. Once they’re out there and they’re gone they’re gone. Of course you want to execute everything. But that’s just unrealistic, so …”
He later added: “Sometimes it’s not perfect.”
The first half throw was painful because it was something the Browns had practiced all week, and set up during the game to get Gordon on a favorable matchup.
“We hit that thing in practice a few times, so we’ve repped that one enough,” Jackson said. “To miss that one is disappointing.”
Gordon had 13 passes thrown his way. Two were negated by penalty, which makes the official target total 11. The biggest play was a catch-and-run over the middle for 39 yards that came in desperation time. The most significant was a 28-yard throw down the sideline that set up the Browns only touchdown.
“Just a fade,” Gordon said. “That’s all it was. Just caught a fade. Press, quick release, fought through the press and executed the fade.”
That was one of Kizer’s better throws, but he had a day when there too many errant ones. He finished 15-for-32, 47 percent, which won’t win many games.
“Completing balls in this league is very hard,” Kizer said.
There were moments when adding Gordon seemed to change the feel of the Browns offense. Gordon and Corey Coleman started, and when Duke Johnson was on the field with tight end David Njoku (four catches, 74 yards and a touchdown) the Browns had some talented young players together. By the fourth quarter, though, Gordon admitted that he felt it.
“Most definitely tired,” he said. “It’s an NFL game, four quarters. You’re going to get tired.”
Jackson said more practice time will help Gordon and Kizer develop timing, and that this first game was “just a start for Josh.”
“Everybody else has to do their part too,” Jackson said. “We can’t just sit around and watch Josh.”