By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
It’s been a heck of a run for Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon – led NFL in receiving yards, started in the Pro Bowl, mingled in Hawaii with Pro Bowl teammate Larry Fitzgerald and team captain Jerry Rice.
But now it’s back to reality. His Browns team changed head coaches for the second year in a row and the direction of the offense is on hold until a coordinator is found.
“We’re a little slow right now, offensively. That’s for sure,” Gordon said, stopping in the NFL Super Bowl media center. “We’re definitely trying to get something going because we have no offensive coordinator. I’m not sure what direction they’re trying to go. I’m waiting to see.”
When he cleaned out his locker on Dec. 29, Gordon was still rocked by the news of the firing of coach Rob Chudzinski. At that time, he still clung to the hope of the team retaining offensive coordinator Norv Turner and the system that helped him produce 87 receptions, 1,646 yards and nine TDs – the greatest season for a receiver in Browns history.
Now that Turner is gone, along with defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Gordon has come to grips with the harsh reality of the NFL – it’s strictly a business.
“I know Norv knew the situation he was in with the rest of the coaches,” Gordon said. “They came there because of Chud and Chud’s relationship with his son (receivers coach Scott Turner). We had an all-star staff. We had Ray Horton at DC. It was a perfect situation.
“(Turner) was upset. Because there wasn’t enough time for Chud. It really wasn’t a fair opportunity, I think. But business is business.
“You cannot replace Norv Turner. That’s a legendary Hall of fame coach. But … if it’s the same offense, heck, we’d be lucky to have it. Anything else, West Coast, I’ve run it before with (Pat) Shurmur. Maybe more exotic? But I doubt it. We should be OK, I think.”
New coach Mike Pettine is the third head coach in Gordon’s three NFL seasons with the Browns. The next offensive coordinator, whomever it is, also will be his third.
“It’s difficult for anybody (to adjust),” he said. “You want to get close to them on a personal level and become friends, and we have, but they’re taking that away quickly. You realize it’s strictly business, just about.”
Gordon is excited, however, about the team’s future. The experience with five other teammates at the Pro Bowl has him confident the team can win.
“We’ve got the core pieces to get it done. We’ve got some of the best guys in the NFL, six guys in the Pro Bowl,” Gordon said. “I know we can have a good nucleus of guys to get around and support and just have a coach to get behind and the community get behind them, and I think we can go far.”
That’s the same attitude expressed by quarterback Brian Hoyer, who also made the rounds on radio row.
“This will be my sixth offense in like 18 months, so I really don’t care,” Hoyer said. “Football’s football. The plays are going to be similar. It’s a copycat league. Everybody runs the same thing. For me, at least I’ll be here from the beginning. I’ve learned so much about offenses it really doesn’t matter to me.”
Hoyer said his rehabilitation from October ACL surgery is proceeding ahead of schedule. He expects to be able to compete against any quarterback the Browns select in the May 8 draft.
“It’s pretty much inevitable – they will draft a quarterback,” he said. “For me, that’s nothing new. There’s always somebody for me to compete with, which I have no problem with. That makes you better. The question is where is it at? To me, I have no idea.
“I was able to start for three games last year. When I played, we won. I’m just looking forward to trying to get back to where I left things off. As long as I have a chance, I feel confident in my abilities.”
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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