Filmroom Checkup: Josh Gordon
November 5, 2013 | Sammy Mayers
Hey everyone! Hope you all had a successful and triumphant Week 9. It was difficult to find subjects for this week’s edition of the Checkup because for the most part, the top-end fantasy players all had reasonably good stat lines. There were a surprising lack of players who under-performed expectations. I tend to exclude matchup based struggles from this article so for instance, I won’t include Vincent Jackson since he was matched up with league’s best secondary (arguably). I also will usually focus on the receiver position (tight ends, too) because it is easier to dissect what wrong on film compared to the running back position where there are more factors and intricacies that go into a poor performance. In my mind, the two biggest underachievers this week were Josh Gordon and Terrance Williams. Both had favorable matchups and were expected to contribute heavily in each of their passing attacks. Each of them had different reasons for struggling, let’s check them out!
The Browns actually had a pretty succesful day slinging the ball around as Jason Campbell ended up with a respectable 260 yards passing which led to a win against the rival Baltimore Ravens. However, it was disappointing to see that the major contributors in the passing game were Greg Little and the half backs – Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whitaker combined for 8 receptions on 10 targets. I am a Jaguars fan so I am very familiar with halfbacks being heavily targeted in the passing game. As expected, Gordon was on the field for every Browns passing play (39/39). He was targeted 7 times but the majority of the targets that fell incomplete were uncatchable balls that were poorly thrown. He finished the day with a total of 3 receptions for 44 yards. 27 of those yards came on a quick hitter in the first quarter. Gordon could have had a much more productive day had Jason Campbell/Brandon Weeden been more accurate and patient on their reads. Protection was also sometimes an issue and there were a number of occasions where Campbell was forced out of the pocket when Gordon was open down the field. Gordon was open a handful of times where the quarterback flat out missed him. There were also a few plays where the Ravens covered him well and he couldn’t get separation but these were the exception. Here are some plays that will illustrate how the Browns quarterback play really impacted the productivity of Josh Gordon:
Brandon Weeden came in to relieve a banged up Jason Campbell for two plays and you can guess how that went. Weeden passed for -2 yards on 2 attempts. However, on his second and last play, the protection was so poor that he couldn’t even set his feet to even look downfield. This was unfortunate because it looked as if Gordon beat the corner who decided to pay attention to the running back near the sideline which left Gordon as the safety’s responsibility. Gordon was left wide open about 15 yards downfield with just the safety to beat. Although I have no faith that Weeden would have gotten the ball to Gordon had the protection been perfect, he was so wide open that it would have been hard for him to miss the throw.
Here is the progression of the play:
From the end zone angle, you can see how easily the Ravens pass rusher got through to Weeden – he wasn’t even touched. If the protection was even average on this play, Gordon could have had a big gain.
On the next series – with Jason Campbell back in the game – there were a couple plays where Gordon was open but was not thrown the ball. This play was especially infuriating because Gordon came across the field wide open and Campbell elected to target Fozzy Whitaker instead on a pass which fell incomplete. Sidenote: It amazes me how often Campbell looks to pass to either Whitaker or Ogbonnaya when he has an All-Pro receiver who is open on most plays. On this particular play, Gordon could have easily gained a first down and maybe more as there was a significant cushion between him and the the two linebackers who were in coverage.
Here is how the play unfolded:
As the linebackers backed up into coverage, Gordon was wide open in the middle of the field and Campbell elected to throw to Whitaker instead.
On the very next play, it seems like there is a miscommunication between Campbell and Gordon. Gordon runs a go route up the seam and is wide open in the middle of Ravens defense. However, Campbell (who has plenty of time in the pocket) seems to be waiting for Greg Little to come open and fires the ball to him at the top of his route for a gain of 15 yards. Although Gordon was open as well, it looked after the play as if he ran the wrong route based on his body language as you can see Gordon pointing at his chest as if to say “my bad”.
You can see Gordon standing right behind Little as he makes the reception and it does look like he ran the wrong route – even though he was still open!
The fourth and final play we will look at is classic example of Campbell checking down to a safety blanket in Jordan Cameron while Gordon is left uncovered deeper down the field. The blame for this play can be placed on both the protection and on Campbell. The right tackle and running back who is pass protecting get beaten swiftly by the rushing Raven which makes Campbell uncomfortable. Campbell is forced to readjust and move up in the pocket. If he were to keep his eyes downfield, he would have seen that Josh Gordon was standing by himself at the 50 yard line. Campbell instead checks down to Jordan Cameron near the sideline.
Summary: Josh Gordon is still an every week starter in fantasy leagues. Despite inconsistency at the quarterback position, he simply gets open too many times a game to get into any type of prolonged slump. This week was an anomaly as Greg Little got the majority of targets and receptions but Gordon’s production should increase in the games following their bye week as they face a suddenly depleted Bengals defense, an aging Steelers defense and a young and inexperienced secondary in Jacksonville. Based on the types of routes he runs, it seems like the Browns coaching staff loves his ability to stretch the field and make big plays. He is constantly running 15-20 yards or more down the field and will almost certainly have a deep connection or two a game when he is matched up against a weaker secondary unit.
Stay Tuned for a Terrance Williams Filmroom Checkup Tomorrow