I Tend to Overreact to Things

Josh Gordon might be the greatest wide receiver we've ever seen at this point of his career. Before you Jerry Rice apologists freak out and change the channel, just keep reading. Let me qualify this thought with this: I'm not saying that Josh Gordon is or will be a greater receiver than Jerry Rice, just that it's not unreasonable to consider it. Josh Gordon is only 22 after all.

So you want stats? I got stats. For the purposes of this post, I'll only be considering both players' first two seasons.

Jerry Rice:

135 receptions, 2497 receiving yards and 18 receiving TDs
(32 games)
4.22 receptions/game, 78.03 receiving yards/game and 0.56 TD/game

Josh Gordon:

121 receptions, 2205 receiving yards and 13 receiving TDs
(27 games, presumably three remaining)
4.48 receptions/game, 81.67 receiving yards/game and 0.48 TD/game

As you can see, quite similar. In my opinion, TDs are very inconsistent and hard to repeat year in and year out, so despite them being the point of football, scoring TDs, for the purposes of this argument, they really aren't that significant (see: Calvin Johnson 2012). Again, that's just my opinion, so I'll leave them in just for you, because I like you. 

Okay, I can feel the unconvinced stare from here. Let's take each of their second seasons since they are obviously both objectively better than their first seasons.

JR:

86 rec, 1570 yds and 15 TDs
(16 games)
5.38 rec/game, 98.13 yds/game and 0.94 TD/game

JG:

71 rec, 1400 yds and 8 TDs
(11 games so far)
6.45 rec/game, 127.27 yds/game and 0.73 TD/game

Just echoing my sentiment that TDs aren't as important as other numbers. But it's worth noting the fairly significant increase in both receptions per game and yards per game (over a full reception and almost 30 yards more per game). 

Best four game stretches:

JR:

1986, weeks 3-6: 23 rec, 512 yds and 7 TDs
5.75 rec/game, 128 yds/game and 1.75 TD/game

JG:

2013, weeks 8-11: 36 rec, 774 yds and 5 TDs
9 rec/game, 193.5 yds/game and 1.25 TD/game

Wow. Receptions and yards are both better for Gordon by over 50%! That's absolutely insane. Note: these are their best four game stretches, one which Gordon is currently in the middle of, and just as something to look forward to, the three teams that Gordon has left to face this season are  Chicago, NYJ and Pittsburgh (all very prone to the long ball, which of course, is Gordon's specialty).

Some nuggets:

  • Jerry Rice had one game with double digit receptions in his 1985 season, Josh Gordon has three already, and one with 14.
  • Josh Gordon is the only receiver to have back-to-back 200+ yard games (237 and 261), Jerry Rice only barely eclipsed 200 once in 1985 (204).
  • Jerry Rice's longest reception was 66 yards, Josh Gordon has eclipsed that three times in the last four games (74, 80 and 95).
Alright, so the statistical nonsense is out of the way. Let's talk about situational nonsense. 

It's a good thing that Josh Gordon had a Hall of Fame QB throwing to him. Oh wait, my bad. That's Jerry Rice. Well at least Gordon had a great running game whose top two backs combined for over 3000 yards from scrimmage, taking a lot of pressure off of the wide receivers. Oh, sorry that was Jerry Rice again.

Wait, so Rice had Joe Montana throwing to him, while Gordon has Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell throwing to him? Rice had a running game that was led by All-Pro Roger Craig, while Gordon gets...Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whittaker. Sounds like an even playing field to me (all due respect to Brandon, Brian, Jason, Willis, Chris and Fozzy, just trying to make a point).

Listen, I'm not necessarily saying that Josh Gordon is better than Jerry Rice, even at this point in their careers. But it's more than worth the comparison. Rice didn't start his NFL career until he was 23 years old, Gordon is going to finish his second season before he turns 23. It would be unrealistic to expect Gordon to play as long as Rice did, but with the potential he has, which he may or may not have already realized, maybe he won't need as long to reach Rice's numbers. 

The only concern I have about Gordon is his drug-use history. He's one strike away from a one year ban, and it would really put a damper on the career he could possibly have. Here's an article from back in September regarding Gordon's suspension and where his head's at moving forward, and I genuinely believe that he realizes that he doesn't have anymore room for error. Despite the Browns' current record (4-9), Gordon has given the fans something to look forward to on Sundays, something they have not had in quite some time. 

That's all I have. Maybe I convinced you, maybe I didn't, maybe you're not even reading this far down. In any case, just remember...

Keep Calm, and Gord-on.