Last week, the New England Patriots made a splash, when they completed a trade with the Cleveland Browns to acquire the highly talented but also troubled wide receiver, Josh Gordon.
Gordon has fallen off the map in recent years, due to various violations of the league’s substance abuse policy, which led to multiple suspensions that have kept him away from the game for extended periods of time. But as the Patriots always do, they see beyond that stuff, hoping to set the young receiver straight with regard to his issues away from football, and in an effort to extract his game-breaking abilities as soon as this season.
Gordon’s best season as a pro came in 2013, when he led the NFL in receiving yards. That year, he accumulated 87 catches for a total of 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. There is no doubting his skills as a pass catcher, and if anyone can get him to straighten out his act, it would be Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
The Patriots are in desperate need of another talented receiver at the moment. They are well aware that Brady’s impending retirement could happen after this year. That would be even more likely if Brady himself felt that the players around him don’t give him a strong opportunity to claim another Super Bowl ring in the coming season or two. But with Gronk continuing to do his thing for this offense, and star receiver Julian Edelman slated to return in a couple of weeks, the Patriots are suddenly looking loaded offensively.
So what can we expect from Gordon as he embarks on his newest chapter in the NFL? That is really difficult to predict at the moment. He first needs to learn the offensive playbook, and get on the same page as Brady as fast as possible. Brady runs his offense meticulously, which means his receivers need to have the ability to read the defensive play call, and to be aware the Brady is likely to change the play at the line of scrimmage, in order to take advantage of the best matchups on the field.
But if Gordon embraces this new opportunity, it could be just what he needed to reignite his career. People have already counted him out, as another receiver with immense talent, who has squandered his god-given talents, in favor of foolish decisions that could bring his career to an abrupt end at any moment. There are no more chances for Gordon as far as the NFL is concerned. He has zero room for error, after being hit with so many disciplinary actions due to his behavior and lack of adherence to league policy.
But we’ve seen this happen before. When Randy Moss joined the Patriots in 2007, the Patriots had one of the best offensive seasons in league history, and Moss scored an incredible 23 touchdowns that year. Gordon is clearly not on Moss’ level when it comes to consistent production on the field, but from a pure talent standpoint, he could be as great as he chooses to become.
It might be too early to predict some crazy stat line for Gordon, who is transitioning to a new team, offense, playbook, city, and teammates, but if he works on improving himself and gets on board with the Patriots way, we could see him have a monster season the rest of the way.