The Kansas City Chiefs have pulled the proverbial “fast one” and signed mercurial and ridiculously talented wide receiver Josh Gordon. Following a jaw dropping tenure with the Cleveland Browns, garnering the enviable nickname “Flash Gordon,” Gordon has been suspended an infamous eight times.
This fact leads many fans and analysts alike to question two things. Can Gordon stay on the field with the Chiefs long enough to make a significant impact? Gordon has only played in 28 games the since 2017, so it’s easy to see why expectations are generally low.
What’s more, even if Gordon stays focused, does he still have enough gas left in the tank? Josh Gordon is 30 years old, and that’s usually the point in time a player who relies heavily on speed and quickness begins to decline.
The first concern is an understandable one, and is much harder to adequately predict an answer to. Gordon has ran afoul of the NFL’s drug testing policy a number of times. Players with multiple mistakes in this arena usually fall under greater scrutiny from the league. Simply to be reinstated Gordon had to pass three random drug tests given by the NFL.
Let’s look at some realistic expectations for Josh Gordon as he joins the Chiefs.
At the end of the day the onus is on Gordon to maintain himself during the testing windows, however long their duration. That said, he reportedly chose the Chiefs because he views it as a long term stop. Coupled with the Chiefs excellent locker room, Gordon should have a greater chance of staying on track than he’s had before. Unfortunately, only time will tell.
The second concern is valid, but a little less so. Gordon didn’t play in 2020, so we’ll focus on the three seasons prior where he suited up for the Cleveland Browns, the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.
From 2017 through 2019, Gordon played in 28 games or 9 games per season. Each year Gordon averaged nearly 30 catches, 500 yards and two touchdowns. His yards per reception sticks out at 17.41 yards, which surpasses all players currently on the Chiefs roster. It even surpasses Tyreek Hill in every season of his career, maybe the best deep threat in NFL history.
I’ve heard a lot of talk about how Gordon hasn’t been a great player since 2013. I’ll admit, watching his film from the last three seasons he’s played showcases the fact he has indeed lost a step. He’s no longer quite “Flash Gordon” like he used to be. Even so, you’d have to be crazy to label Gordon’s production in those three seasons as anything other than above average.
If you extrapolate his production over 16 games, Gordon would have nearly 50 receptions for 900 yards and 3.5 touchdowns. If you also take into account he was producing at that level having very little time to adjust to each team’s scheme, it’s hard not to be impressed. The truth is, as much as I like our second, third and fourth receivers on the Chiefs none of them have produced anything close to the level that Gordon did from 2017-2019.
The other element Gordon brings that the Chiefs haven’t had, arguably since Dwayne Bowe, is a wide receiver who can consistently make physically contested catches. Hill and Travis Kelce are certainly capable, but watching Gordon’s film showcases a beastly presence over the middle of the field with very strong hands.
With Kelce and Gordon using their physical superiority over the short middle of the field, defensive coordinators will almost certainly have to adjust from the Cover 2 defenses the Chiefs have seen to start the season. If they do, look for Hill’s already impressive season to take another massive step.
For the first time in a while, it will be pick your poison for the rest of the NFL. If teams play multiple safeties deep, the Chiefs will simply rack up yardage underneath. If teams account for this then Hill and Mecole Hardman will have field days.
In reality, the biggest benefit to having Gordon on the field is the adjustment teams will have to make and the advantage that will give the Chiefs. Whether Gordon has 300, 500, or 1,000 yards won’t make much difference at the end of the day. His presence will make an elite offense nearly unstoppable.