When a six foot, three-inch wide receiver that weighs 225 pounds can run a 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, that’s special. Definitely lives up to the moniker of “Flash”! Josh Gordon has always been a freak in the measurables department. He has always produced on the field, and he has always been suspect about making good decisions. What are the chances that the New England Patriots get Flash Gordon of 2013? Will he keep his nose clean and buried in the playbook?
He has to. This is his final NFL chance. If he screws up here, he is pretty much done. Not only will his suspension be exponentially worse than a first time offender, but not working out with the all-business Patriots would signal the rest of the league.
What does the talented wide receiver bring to the table? How about 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns? In 14 games? 18.9 yards per reception? These are literally video game numbers! No, not video game numbers, you have to have a cheat code in order to produce like that. Everyone likes to point out that it was ages ago! Did you see who he was playing with?
Old Willis McGahee was pounding the rock in a geriatric way. Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden striking fear in the heart of defenses. Greg Little, Travis Benjamin, and Davone Bess were providing the cover that a premium #1 wideout needs in order to produce like that? No, to put it into perspective the Cleveland Browns produced 5,423 yards. As a team. The whole team. That was it. Josh Gordon’s yards accounted for over 30% of the team’s total. That’s good.
The 2013 Tape
Let’s all take a breather and bask in the glory that was Josh Gordon’s season:
The 2017-2018 Tape
If you managed to watch that bit of NFL porn and still contain yourself, you’ll notice a few things. He can do it all. Slants, Go routes, Deep ins, and outs, screen passes, and end arounds. People will say that you are not getting that version of Josh Gordon. You are getting this guy:
Sign. Me. Up! This guy is still an amazing highlight reel all game! You still see a guy with an instinctual ability to find a soft spot in a zone defense. That’s still a guy that can box out physically inferior cornerbacks. That catch radius is bordering on unlawful for an offensive player. And remember who was throwing him the ball. If you look at that poor soul’s jersey, you’ll see Deshone Kizer and Kevin Hogan. Josh Gordon’s talent transcends poor quarterback play in a way that we haven’t seen since Randy Moss. And much like the Hall of Famer, he now heads to a situation more befitting his talents.
What the Patriots See
I started writing this article determined to keep a level head and not get sucked into the hyperbole about his talents. Both my football brain and my fan brain came to the same conclusion; that the optimism may be understated. There is a saying for the truly elite players that I love; If your system does not allow this player to flourish, it’s a bad system. I know, I’m butchering the paraphrase.
The biggest criticism about the move to New England is that the system is difficult for wide receivers to learn and contribute right away. My thought is that if he has trouble learning the system, dumb it down. I’m serious. This isn’t some street free agent that may or may not be able to catch the football or tie his cleats. This guy has been stuck in football purgatory playing for a franchise that just recently celebrated its first win in 635 days!
And this is not even taking into account the current Patriots wide receiver corp. Phillip Dorsett and Chris Hogan had a golden opportunity to prove that they could rise to the occasion. Cordarrelle Patterson could have made an impact as a pass catcher. Edelman is on his way back from suspension and season-long rehab from a torn ACL. When Gronk is being double and triple teamed in order to take him away and cause the offense to sputter. It’s working. This offense needs a spark. The fire needs to be lit and only a Super Bowl win can quench it! Let’s go Patriots!
All photos courtesy of Getty images unless noted otherwise.
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