Patriots gearing up to stop Browns WR Gordon
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Cleveland's Josh Gordon may just be the best
wide receiver in the NFL not named Johnson.
New England cornerback Aqib Talib certainly thinks so.
"He reminds you of those names, the Calvin Johnsons, the Andre
Johnsons, bigger guys with little guy's speed and quickness," said
Talib, who in all likelihood will guard Gordon on Sunday when the
Patriots (9-3) host the Browns (4-8). "He can turn an eight-yard curl
into a touchdown in a heartbeat."
Over the last month, Gordon has sprinted his way into the NFL record
books, quickly blossoming into one of the most-feared threats in the
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound second-year product from Baylor last week
became the first player in NFL history to top 200 yards receiving in
consecutive games, following his 14-catch, 237-yard performance with 10
receptions for 261 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Jacksonville.
His 498 yards receiving over the past two games is the new league
standard, surpassing all of the well-known Johnsons — Calvin (484 yards
in 2013), Andre (461 in 2012) and Chad (450 in 2006).
"Obviously his size, his speed, his ability to go play the ball when
it's in the air, and then obviously his ability to run after the
catch," Patriots safety Steve Gregory said of the problems Gordon
poses. "He definitely has the ability to run away from a defense, make
guys miss, break tackles. He definitely presents a challenge and
someone that we're going to have to be ready for."
Gordon's 1,249 yards receiving rank third in the NFL behind only Calvin Johnson (1,299) and Andre Johnson (1,277), who had 154 yards against
Jacksonville on Thursday night to pass Gordon.
The 22-year-old still leads the league in yards per game (124.9) and
per catch (19.5), and already has scored seven touchdowns, five coming
in his last five games — including a 95-yarder Sunday on which he
hauled in an 18-yard pass before outrunning defenders the rest of the
That play accounted for just one of his league-leading 22 receptions
that have gone for 20 or more yards, and a large chunk of his 517 yards
after the catch, third-best in the league.
And all of that has come in just 10 games, as he was suspended for the
first two for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
"You've got a guy who's 235 pounds, running like he's 35 pounds," Talib
said. "It's definitely a challenge."
While the last five games have vaulted Gordon into the upper echelon of
wide receivers — he's averaging more than seven catches and nearly 160
yards a game — New England coach Bill Belichick isn't surprised.
He's seen Gordon's big-play potential all season.
"The plays he's made the last couple weeks are the same plays he's made
all year," Belichick said. "He can attack all three levels of the
defense. He can run through them, he can take the short plays,
catch-and-run plays, crossing patterns, look patterns, plays like that,
quick three-step drops and break tackles.
"He's very good on the intermediate routes, the in-cuts, the crossing
routes, comebacks, stop-routes, things like that that attack the middle
levels of the defense. He's a complete player that can run fast, catch,
big target and make a lot of yards on his own after the catch with his
speed, size and running ability."
Gordon will try to keep it up against a Patriots defense that is
surrendering just 224 yards passing per game, and has allowed just
three players to pass 100 yards receiving this season.
The last one to do it?
Andre Johnson, on Sunday.
"Even in coverage, he can adjust and move his body in a way to make a
play on the ball when it's in the air," Gregory said. "He's just a guy
that we're going to have to understand where he's at on the field,
understand his abilities, how he can hurt you and try to limit him the
best we can."
Cleveland's WR is changing perceptions as he breaks records for the…