Despite the merry-go-round of quarterback woes the Browns have faced this season, the team’s two top pass catchers are pacing towards franchise record setting seasons.
No Browns receiver in the franchise’s storied history has ever hauled in a 100 balls in a season, yet with Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer playing quarterback Jordan Cameron is on pace for 101 with his 38 catches through 6 games. The current record holders for receptions in a season are two other tight ends, Ozzie Newsome and Kellen Winslow. Newsome, now the architect of two Super Bowl champion teams in Baltimore, snagged 89 balls in 1983 and then matched the feet once again in 1984 on his way to first team All-Pro honors. Winslow caught his 89 in 2006 which he followed up in 2007, The Season of Dreams, with another 82 grabs.Coming into the season many, including myself, bashed the front office for not going out and getting one of the top tight ends via free agency to replace the 49 balls Ben Watson caught last year. With a new Chud/Norv offense coming to town all signs pointed towards play calling that heavily featured the tight end. And with a
young inexperienced quarterback the need for a reliable safety blanket was huge. I clamored for Lombardi and Banner to go get Jared Cook or Dennis Pitta, even Brandon Myers would have eased my mind heading into a season.
Cook and Myers have been relative busts on their new teams, combining for only 40 catches and 519 yards —a stat line similar to Cameron’s. While Dennis Pitta has not seen the field yet this year due to a fractured and dislocated hip.
Give credit to Norv and Chud for seeing the potential in the uber athletic Cameron and putting their faith in him. But give more credit to Jordan Cameron who put in the time this off season to master his craft. He watched tape of every single catch Antonio Gates made in Norv’s offense in San Diego as well as seeked out the advise of future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez.
Cameron described his meeting with Gonzalez to the Akron Beacon Journal back in the preseason.
“There were little things with seam reads and a lot of basic things that people don’t really do, and he does a great job of that,” Cameron said. “He does the details on the routes that really get him open, really separates him from the defenders. A lot of young guys rely on athleticism and they think they can get open doing whatever ’cause they’re athletes, so they can run here, run there.
“But he works on the little things, the separation from the defender, coming back to the ball instead of rounding out your routes. So there’s a lot of little things, and when he was telling me to do something, I would remember specifically seeing exactly how he would do it on tape. So it was funny to see. Whatever he was preaching, he definitely does it on the field.”
Instead of just another athletic freak in the NFL, Cameron is transforming himself quite nicely into a real pro’s pro.
Like Cameron, Josh Gordon has taken a large leap forward this season. The second year wideout the Browns used a 2012 second round pick in the supplemental draft on is also pacing towards a season that will ink his name in the Browns’ record books.
Averaging 107 receiving yards per game, Gordon is looking at eclisping 1500 yards on the year if he can continue at this rabid pace. The current franchise record for yards in a season is Braylon Edwards who recorded 1289 yards back in ’07. Only 10 times in the franchise’s history has receiver surpassed the millenium mark, and only three times has it happened since ’99. Kellen Winslow joined Braylon over 1000 yards during the offensive explosion that was the 2007 season and Antonio Bryant also went over 1000 back in 2005 with Trent Dilfer and Charlie Frye throwing him the ball.
Gordon is third in the league in receiving yards per game behind Justin Blackmon who missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, and Julio Jones who is done for the year with foot injury.
In the Browns first two games with Gordon suspended the offense averaged just 275 total yards, resembling the same old Browns’ offenses we’ve become far too familiar with. But in the four games since with Gordon on the field the offensive production has jumped to a more respectable 358 yards per game. Even looking at the last two games with Weeden at quarterback with Gordon vs. Weeden’s two games without Gordon the increase in offensive production is still 68 yards per game more — with the Weeden/Gordon led offensive averaging 343 yards a game.
For as much as everyone kills Weeden for his boneheaded plays, the fact the two of his receivers are pacing towards franchise record setting seasons gives hope for Weeden and the Browns offense.
(Photo/Pioneer Press: Sherri LaRose-Chiglo)