Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon had an impressive return to the field in Sunday’s loss to the Chargers, but a breakdown of the passes thrown to him shows it could have been much more memorable.
Basically, DeShone Kizer picked the wrong day to give up throwing accurate passes.
Gordon had 13 passes thrown his way. Four were completed. Of the nine he didn’t catch, eight were simply bad throws, though two were negated by penalty. In order, here’s how the throws went:
First-and-10, Browns 19-yard line -- On the game’s first play, the Browns ran play-action and Kizer hit Gordon on a slant for nine yards.
Third-and-12, Browns 26 -- Kizer throws outside left on a comeback to Gordon, but the pass is short; the incompletion is negated by a roughing the passer penalty.
First-and-10, Chargers 44 -- Gordon is the inside receiver of three lined up left. He winds up isolated on safety Adrian Phillips and beats Phillips deep down the middle of the field. Kizer overthrows a potential TD by several yards. This was a play the Browns practiced and set up; to miss was tough to take.
First-and-10, Browns 35 -- A short throw outside to Gordon is behind him and high
Second-and-10, Browns 35 -- On the next play, Kizer finds Gordon over the middle. Gordon makes a nice catch on the run but is tackled right away for a gain of nine yards.
Third-and-1, Browns 44 -- Kizer hits Gordon down the sideline; he makes a very nice catch and gains 28 yards to set up the Browns' only touchdown. Had the pass led Gordon, this could have been a touchdown, but the Browns will take the result.
First-and-10, Browns 25 -- On the Browns' first offensive play, Kizer throws to Gordon but is almost intercepted by Casey Hayward.
First-and-10, Browns 37 -- Gordon has a step on a deep throw down the right sideline, but Kizer underthrows the pass and it’s broken up.
First-and-10, Browns 36 -- Gordon again goes down the right sideline is overthrown by Kizer.
First-and-10, Chargers 28 -- Kizer throws a fade from the 28, but the ball is thrown out of bounds. An illegal formation penalty negates the play.
Second-and-4, Chargers 47 -- Kizer throws a comeback to Gordon low and into the ground.
First-and-15, Chargers 15 -- Kizer looks for Gordon in the end zone on a skinny post, but Hayward makes a nice play to tip the ball away.
First-and-10, Browns 33 -- Kizer throws a deep crossing route to Gordon, who gains 38. This is the Browns' biggest gain of the game, but it comes with 2:08 left and the Browns in desperation mode, down nine points.
Its easy to go back and say "what if," but if Kizer had completed the first possible touchdown the way the Browns had done in practice, Gordon’s day would have gone from four catches and 85 yards to five and 129 with a touchdown. Add the second throw that was underthrown in the third quarter and suddenly he’s pushing --
and maybe over -- 200 yards receiving.
Coach Hue Jackson said Kizer and Gordon will develop better timing with more practice time. He added Gordon will need more game reps to refine his techniques, that at times his long stride may have affected his routes.
"Outside of that, I didn't see much different than anything else that he did," Jackson said. "The guy can play football. He was obviously built to play football."
Kizer finished the game 15-for-32. He played hard, he fought, but he just wasn’t as accurate as he needs to be. Kizer’s completion for the season is 52.5 percent, 35th in the NFL.