CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - BACK IN A FLASH
Actually, it's taken a little longer than that. Three years to be precise, but Josh Gordon is back, and on Sunday we'll see if he has any 'flash' left in him. This is Must See TV, because Gordon -- if he's anything like the player who took the league by storm in 2013 -- not only gives the Browns a better chance to evaluate DeShone Kizer, he finally gives Hue Jackson a top-tier offensive weapon to work with. Gordon will start, and will not be on a "pitch count". But it may take him some time to find his rhythm again. Josh Cribbs will break down exactly how the Browns should use Gordon.
MAY THE FORCE NOT BE WITH YOU
Just my way of saying: DeShone, please don't feel the need to find Gordon on every play. That's the mistake Brian Hoyer made in 2014, and it helped take this train right off the tracks. The Browns were 6-4 when Gordon returned that season; they'd finish 1-5. Hoyer admittedly tried to force too many throws to his top receiver. Interceptions went up, touchdowns went down, and the Browns crashed at the finish line. Different quarterback, different coach this time. Will that help them avoid making a similar mistake? Beanie Wells will talk offensive strategy.
There was only one team that lost to the Browns in 2016, and that team is waiting for the Browns out in Los Angeles. "Revenge" is an overused word in sports; it rarely is the reason for wins or losses. But the Chargers certainly remember falling at First Energy Stadium on Christmas Eve, and you can bet there's no way they're looking past the Browns this time around. We're getting Bob Golic's take on how much that extra motivation will matter.
OLD MAN RIVERS
Philip Rivers came into the NFL in 2004 with Eli Manning, and of course Manning is the reason Rivers is a Charger. Eli wouldn't go to San Diego, the Chargers swung the deal with the Giants, and the rest is history. But 14 seasons later, Rivers is still going strong (20 TD's, 7 Int's), while Manning has just been benched. Rivers, on pace for more than 4,000 yards, has the Chargers in the playoff conversation, and while there are two things (rings) he doesn't have that Eli does, he'll still likely end up in the same place as Manning: Canton. So how do the Browns slow him down? The Tailgate crew weighs in on that.
The Browns are handling the West Coast trip a bit differently this year, heading to Los Angeles on Friday, not Saturday, to help get acclimated to the time zone change. That can be both good and bad. Good, in that it gives Hue Jackson an extra night in his hometown (coach plans to take in his high school alma mater's playoff game on Saturday night). Bad, in that it can lead to extra temptations in the City of Angels. Jackson has reminded his players that this is a business trip, but he also wants them to have fun on their Friday night. Should players have a curfew, two nights before a game? I'm getting the "Tailgate" crew's take on that as well.