CARSON, California -- Scribbles in my notebook after the Cleveland Browns lost, 19-10, to the L.A. Chargers:
1. "Everybody has to do their part, we can't just sit around and watch Josh (Gordon)," said Browns coach Hue Jackson.
2. It's a great point because that can easily happen. A quarterback can become fixated with throwing the ball to the talented receiver. A coach can fall into the trap of making Gordon the first option on so many passing plays. At times, that happened Sunday.
3. In 2014, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan fell into the Gordon trap, calling his number far too often. Quarterback Brian Hoyer sometimes forced the ball to Gordon, hoping the receiver would make a big play. It was a mess. Gordon was not in the same good physical and emotional condition as he is right now.
4. The Browns threw 11 passes to Gordon, who looked tired at times in the second half. That's natural, given it was his first regular season game since 2014. He caught four passes for 85 yards. There were two big plays -- 39 yards and 28 yards. DeShone Kizer also overthrew an open Gordon a few times.
5. This is not about making Gordon a decoy. It is about realizing how Gordon's presence can help the other receivers/tight ends and running back Duke Johnson. They should see softer coverage.
6. Corey Coleman should benefit by the return of Gordon. The safeties who have been paying Coleman extra attention will now focus on Gordon. And Gordon will usually be set up on the other side of the field from Coleman. But Coleman was lost in this game. He didn't catch any of the four passes thrown to him. I thought one was a drop. He also was flagged for a holding call.
7. Coleman has nine catches in three games since he returned from a broken hand. He was the first pick in the 2016 draft for the new front office ... No. 15 overall. He also was the first receiver selected in that draft. He's broken a hand in each of his first two pro seasons.
6. Rookie tight end David Njoku caught four passes for 74 yards. He snared a beautiful 28-yard TD throw from Kizer. He also caught a 33-yard pass later in the game. He was open ... often. The defensive attention given Gordon was part of the reason.
7. Njoku has dropped four passes this season. But the 21-year-old has excellent size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and runs well for a tight end. He has caught four TD passes. He really doesn't know what he's doing as an NFL player, and he's still effective at times. He could be a real weapon very soon with some experience.
8. Right now, I feel better about the long-range career of Njoku as an impact player than I do Coleman. That's why the final four games are important to Coleman establishing himself as a good receiver in the NFL.
9. There were times when it seemed Philip Rivers was toying with the Browns defense. The veteran Chargers quarterback was so decisive, quickly releasing the ball and nearly always throwing it on target. Most of his passes were short or medium, less than 15 yards in the air. He was 31-of-43 passing for 344 yards. He had one touchdown pass, one interception.
10. It's almost impossible to sack Rivers because he quickly makes his throws. Browns linebacker Joe Schobert did sack Rivers -- only the 13th time that's happened in 12 games this season.
11. Myles Garrett didn't sack Rivers, but he delivered two quarterback hits. He also had a tackle for a loss. Garrett briefly left the game with a sore ankle, but returned. If the rookie stays healthy, lots of Pro Bowls in his future.
12. The Chargers are a very difficult defense for any quarterback. They have a fierce pass rush led by Joey Bosa. They also have good defensive backs. So it's no surprise Kizer had a long day, completing only 15-of-32 passes. The turnovers appeared, a fumble and an interception. But it was disappointing to see him struggle so much.
13. I think Kizer has a future in the NFL, at least as a sometimes starter. Maybe more. But inexperience is so glaring, especially compared to watching a real pro such as Rivers. Accuracy as a passer was sometimes a problem for Kizer in college, and that's still the case.
14. The Browns defense did a good job holding the Chargers to 19 points and only one touchdown. The Chargers were only 1-of-4 scoring in the red zone, another positive for the defense.
15. But I also sensed Rivers had such control of the game that he'd make sure his team had the points it needed to win. The Chargers never even punted until the fourth quarter....Read more