Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon admits that he is having a tough transition into the offense after serving his suspension, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
“I know in my mind I’m not where I want to be, because I’d like for it to be just second nature and for me to not have to think about it,” he said. “(Before) I’d hear half the play in the huddle and still know what to do. But it’s not like that right now so I have to compensate and study a little more than everybody else. I’m playing catch-up. I’ve got a long way to go to be where I want to be.”
You’d never know from looking at his stats that he’s struggling. In his two games back, he’s averaging 7.5 catches and 97.5 yards — close to his All-Pro pace of 2013 — but almost every play in the new offense is a mental challenge.
“The terminology’s changed even since training camp,” he said. “It’s still the same concept, but just little tweaks to tight ends and protection makes the words change and sound like a totally different play to me, so I’m just trying to still realize it’s the same thing.”
During his first game back in Atlanta, he wasn’t even in the same dome as Hoyer, catching only eight of his 16 targets for 120 yards. Hoyer’s final two picks in that game were on passes for Gordon, in part because his head was swimming.
“I was definitely running the wrong routes,” he said. “Now I know all the routes, but now it’s just when some of the plays we have that aren’t tagged for you, you’ve got to know what to do.”
During the suspension, Gordon was permitted to attend full-squad meetings, but not offensive or receiver sessions. He learned some of the offense in training camp, but his head wasn’t in the game back then with the suspension looming.
“Until you’re out there running it and you see it, it’s a world of difference,” said Pettine. “Obviously, we still feel it was worth it, and Josh is improving. He’s getting better every day on the practice field, and we’re looking for big things this weekend (against the Colts).”
Hoyer, who almost lost his job this week because of interceptions, a lack of scoring and accuracy issues, acknowledged that he must get on the same page with his All-Pro receiver, who led the NFL with 1,646 yards last year in only 14 games.
“We definitely have to get better in sync,” he said. “We stay after practice and talk through things, and we’re trying to work through it. It’s tough when you’re not around for 10 weeks. You can’t put that all on Josh. It’s a tough situation. We’re definitely working to get it better, especially with Miles (Austin, kidney injury) not being able to play, Josh becomes an even bigger option. Like I said, not having 10 weeks and then all of a sudden you’re into NFL games, it’s hard to work on the fly.”