From all accounts, Gordon has been a fixture at the Browns facility and has kept himself in incredible shape.
Earlier in the week Browns head coach Mike Pettine said he would be on a snap count. Pettine’s comments after watching Gordon practice showed that Gordon divorced himself of any snap count this Sunday.
This is Gordon’s Week 1—the past three months have been his training camp. If this were truly Week 1, you would start Gordon without question.
What are the concerns? He’s not 100% in game-shape. There have been eleven weeks of football—not one player, other than Gordon, is 100% right now. Not one.
From Week 1 on, each player’s “100%” dwindles. So when you hear a guy coming off of injury, or after playing in just one game and not even being “injured,” say he’s 100%, what he’s really saying is, “My new 100% is about 85% percent.” Even if the players Gordon is lining up against aren’t on the injury report, in football, just about every player is dealing with some type of ailment. But not Gordon...not yet.
I grew up watching Andre the Giant, The Junkyard Dog, Jimmy Superfly Snuka and the rest of the WWF (not “E”). Gordon’s the guy in a tag-team match watching everyone beating each other up, arm stretched out into the ring, yelling “Tag me! Tag me!” Gordon’s teammates are crawling over towards their corner, desperately reaching for Gordon’s hand. Hoyer smacked it.
Gordon is stepping into the ring 100% fresh after watching everyone get their ass kicked for 11 rounds.
BY THE NUMBERS:
If you don’t like the common-sense approach and want something more concrete, then let’s do this by the numbers.
Someone asked me how I think Gordon would fare in Kyle Shanahan’s run-heavy scheme. Hoyer has only averaged 32.5 pass attempts per game, true. But look at his targets. No disrespect to Andrew Hawkins, but he’s not a guy an offensive coordinator is going to center the offense around. Despite having sub-par targets, Hoyer is still thrown the rock the 15th-most times in the NFL.
And with three capable, if not awe-inspiring, running backs, there will undoubtedly be a balance to the offense. The Browns have yet to suit up a true No. 1 wideout, plus Jordan Cameron has been absent.
Hoyer has thrown 11 touchdowns in 10 weeks without Gordon. With Gordon last season, he threw 5 touchdowns in 2 weeks.
Last season, Hoyer targeted Gordon on 30.4% of his passes. This season, Antonio Brown is the most targeted wideout at 29.8%, Julio Jones is second with 27.5%.
Then there’s Atlanta. They have managed to give up the most passing yards this season, 281.2 per game. And the Falcons lack any resemblance of a pass-rush, boasting the second-fewest sacks in the league. They also give up a ton of points (25.5) per game.
The Falcons will also be without starting cornerback Robert Alford, but will probably use Desmond Trufant to stalk Gordon anyway. Trufant is talented, but Gordon is better. Gordon is certainly better than Kelvin Benjamin, who Trufant struggled against last week.
Put yourself in Gordon’s shoes. Think about how pumped you’d be for this game. Gordon will have plenty of opportunities, despite being on a reported snap-count. He’s a top-5 play this week and for the remainder of the season. Now reach around and give yourself a butt-pat for having him on your roster.