December 30, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner hugs tight end Antonio Gates (85) after a win against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Finding the Antonio Gates in New Browns Offense

Jun 4, 2013; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver David Nelson (11) during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

When the Cleveland Browns hired Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner this off-season it was expected that the tight end position would be addressed through a significant transaction. Yet free agency and the draft came and went with no significant additions, less you consider two backup blocking tight ends. With the loss of Josh Gordon for 2 games due to a positive drug test, those receiving passes in the new offense are more important then ever. Coach Chud and Coordinator Turner have a long history of using the tight end position to stretch the middle of the field and keep safeties from cheating over on sideline routes. This strategy worked wonders for Chud with Kellen Winslow in his first go round with the Browns and Turner had years of success deploying Antonio Gates for the Chargers. Gates teamed with receivers, specifically Vincent Jackson to deploy Turner’s offense and turn Philip Rivers into a star.

To start out the team is expecting Jordan Cameron, a basketball player turned tight end like Gates, to take hold and star in the tight end role. Cameron’s athletic ability should prove key in his attempt to make Browns fan utter the names of Winslow and Gates comparisons. Yet Cameron has not shown the ability to be a full time difference maker in his young career.  The Browns this off-season made some additions that may allow for some flexibility including for Gordon’s suspension and the possibility of Cameron failing. The addition of Devone Bess and David Nelson are the key contributions that may provide successful offensive football.

During Gordon’s 2 game suspension expectation is that Travis Benjamin, with his great speed, to take many of Gordon’s downfield routes. While not the tall, game changing receiver that Gordon is, Benjamin’s speed may allow him to stretch the defense and keep the safeties honest and out of the middle of the field. Bess will be deployed in the slot running many underneath and option routes. Even following Gordon’s return Bess and Benjamin can continue to take care of underneath routes. If Cameron is not successful, and even if he has success, Nelson will be deployed in a similar role as a tight end in Turner’s offense. Though in the slot Nelson will provide a significantly different set of skills then Bess and Benjamin. Nelson has the height and girth of a tight end with the route running, hands and experience of a wide receiver. Nelson will be able to stretch the field vertically, provide blocking on the edge and provide solid red zone and short yardage receiving.

One thing for sure, compared to previous years the Browns offense has the resources to be successful, even with Gordon’s suspension. All of this was written without mentioning the late season development of Greg Little and the proven hands of Trent Richardson. With the experience of Coach Chud and Turner and the talented offensive line, those receiving passes from Brandon Weeden should provide dynamics not seen since the one year of Derek Anderson, Jamal Lewis, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow. Fans of the team should be excited for the first time in many years.

Tags: Antonio Gates David Nelson Davone Bess Josh Gordon National Football League Nfl Norv Turner Offense Rob Chudzinski Tight End

  • Matt Dorlaque

    Please Brown fans, do not be excited that Norv Turner is your offensive coordinator. He has absolutely zero ability to adjust to new information. He tries it his way, again, again, again, and again. He is insane, come to think of it. He is a poor strategist and horrible motivator.

    • Jared Mueller


      Guessing your a San Diego guy? How did he become that after all those years with LT and V Jackson etc where he had the top rated offense? Do you think the pressure of being the HC made his offense suffer and he will do better now? Or think he is a old frustrating stubborn guy?

      • Matt Dorlaque

        Yes. I am from sd and a schotty fan. The players, back in LT’s day, loved and respected him. It was just apparent. As a HC, Norv didn’t inspire that way at all. As an oc, he lead us away from the ground game. You lose the run game, you lose a ton of ability to close out games. Chargers lose late, alot! In sum, as an hc, he wasn’t an effective leader. As an oc, im sure he will help your passing game out. It’s just closing out games that frustrated me. In that way, he is stubborn I guess.

        • Jared Mueller

          Good feedback, hopefully Chud as overseer will help with some of that. With a young fresh new mentality. Hows your hopes for your new coach?

          • Matt Dorlaque

            I dig Mccoy. To succeed with tebow and manning shows he plays to his rosters skills rather than a set belief system. The roster still needs work. Our gm left us in a huge hole. Norv said it would take us more than a season to get back to being good. I fear he is right. The broncos are widely considered better and the chiefs might have surpassed us with some solid offseason moves. (New qb, mew coach, high draft pick ot Fisher).