Against Browns, Chargers face a team with more talent than wins – Orange County Register

Let’s start with Josh Gordon.

He was once the best receiver in the world, a game-breaker who carved up the league for 1,646 yards. He did that in 2013 despite missing two games — and despite catching passes from the Browns’ three-headed rotation of mediocre quarterbacks. It was the type of year that inspired awe even among Hall of Famers.

“What Josh has?” former Cowboys star Michael Irvin told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “Man, all I can do is get down on my knees and ask God, ‘Why didn’t you give me that?’”

Of course, Gordon hasn’t played a game in nearly three years, his once-promising career blown off the tracks by drug and alcohol addiction and multiple suspensions. But he’s set to return again at StubHub Center on Sunday (1:05 p.m., CBS), and represents just one of the reasons why the Chargers (5-6) aren’t taking Cleveland as an easy out.

The Browns might not have any wins, but they are hardly bereft of talent.

“I can’t believe that someone would call this a trap game,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.

Sounding almost offended by the suggestion earlier this week, Lynn spoke highly of numerous players on the Cleveland roster. Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer may lead the league with 14 interceptions, but the second-round pick out of Notre Dame is a dual threat who keeps “getting better and better.” Jabrill Peppers and Matthew Dayes are dynamic threats on punt and kick returns.

And Gordon? “He’s still young, so his skill set probably hasn’t diminished much.”

Gus Bradley has seen that skill set before. The Chargers defensive coordinator was in the midst of his first season as head coach in Jacksonville, and his Jaguars were set to visit the Browns on Dec. 1, 2013. A week earlier, Gordon had erupted for 237 yards, a franchise record that also came with a touchdown catch. Fair warning for any defensive-minded coach.

It wasn’t enough. The Browns lost to Jacksonville, but Gordon had the best game of his career, catching 10 passes for 261 yards and two scores. It was the first time any NFL receiver had recorded back-to-back 200-yard games.

“Back then, he was on the rise and really doing well,” Bradley said. “Someone, across the league, they were talking about.”

“He was a beast,” added safety Adrian Phillips, who once faced Gordon when they were at Texas and Baylor, respectively. “He probably still is a beast.”

The Browns aren’t too shabby on defense either. Gregg Williams, who served as the…

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