It's no secret the Cleveland Browns wide receivers have been a weak link the last few years. With Josh Gordon back and Jarvis Landry now in the fold, expectations are high for the revamped receiving core in 2018. Could they even be the best in the NFL?
“I think we're the best receiving corps in the league, in my opinion, already,” Gordon said. “Just based off of talent alone. You put in the playbook and some guys that are hungry enough to go do it, hopefully we go show and prove that.”
Hopefully Gordon hasn't jinxed his teammates already. Landry agrees with Gordon's assessment of the receiving core.
“He ain’t lying. We are playing to our strengths and playing to our ability to have (QB) Tyrod (Taylor) back there,” Landry said. “And obviously, (offensive coordinator) Todd Haley calling plays. The things that Josh can do and (WR) Corey (Coleman) can do. We have a young cat coming up as well, (Antonio) Callaway. We are just really showing a lot of flashes. I think the capability of what we all can do is endless. We can only, obviously, beat ourselves at this point.”
Gordon hopes to get to the receiver he was five years ago when he lead the NFL in receiving yards. It appears he's finally back on the straight and narrow following years of on and off the field issues.
“Pretty good. I am excited to be out here more than anything,” Gordon said. “New offense. I have been able to pick it up pretty well, despite learning a new one last year and another new one this year. It is nothing necessarily new. I have been in this situation a few times, learning a new offense, but it has been really fun and really exciting to work with (offensive coordinator) coach (Todd) Haley, though.”
“Listen, not being here but obviously being tied to sports, you heard about Josh and the things that he was going through,” Landry said. “Now, having the chance to get to know him, and hang out and talk to him, it is crazy how the perception of an article or what people say about a person can be misconstrued. Having the opportunity to sit with him and learn from him, he is a stand-up guy. To have him for a full season, that is really good, too. Not only for myself, but for the organization and for this crew here. I am excited for where it goes next.”
“He is working at it. I am proud of him,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “I think we all are in the organization, because that is something that is tough. He has handled it. He has done his responsibility. We have tried to create the right environment for him to be all that he can be. We have supported him. He has done what we have asked him to do. So far, so good. He knows that we have got to keep going this offseason, once away from here, and it will be very important. We will get Josh back here and get ready for training camp.”
If the Browns are to become one of the best wide receiver cores in the NFL, third year receiver Corey Coleman needs to live up to being a first round pick. Injuries and poor play have slowed his development in his first two years highlighted by a dropped pass late in the fourth quarter of last years season finale in Pittsburgh that ended any chance of avoiding the 0-16 season.
“He has been out here working. I have seen him every day,” Haley said. “He understands this is a big, big year in his career. Year 3 is usually the make-or-break year of what kind of you are going to be. I have made that clear to him. He understands it, and he is working hard accordingly to try to be the best that he can be.”
Better quarterback play will also contribute to an improved wide receiver core. Tyrod Taylor is expected to provide that in 2018. Number one overall pick Baker Mayfield will also get chances to be the guy who will throw the football to the new look wide receiving core.
“A very talented group,” Taylor said. “It is up to us to go out and execute. That is my job to make sure that everyone is focused on executing and doing that day in and day out so that it carries on into game days.”
The Browns receivers can make a statement toward becoming one of the best in the league in week one when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers and their dynamic receiving duo of Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.