KC Chiefs: Has the Josh Gordon ship sailed?

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 14: Josh Gordon #19 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 14: Josh Gordon #19 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

When the Kansas City Chiefs took a swing on veteran wide receiver Josh Gordon a few weeks into their season, it was pretty much a universally liked move.

The Chiefs had a clear need at wide receiver (and still do) and Gordon fit the mold of the type of receiver the Chiefs had been lacking. A big, physical receiver who could make a catch in traffic and be a mismatch for whoever the third defensive back covering him was as defenses also had to focus on Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.

Gordon had been productive at just about every stop despite being constantly in and out of the league because of drug problems and suspensions including an All-Pro season with the Cleveland Browns in 2013. Given where the Chiefs were at with their receiver room and Gordon’s track record, there was no risk in giving Gordon a shot and seeing if there was any gas left in the tank.

Is there any room left for the Josh Gordon experiment to succeed?

Fast forward to now, Josh Gordon has played in 6 games and has tallied 2 catches for 18 yards. An underwhelming stat line.

After a substantial amount of time with the team and snaps in the games Gordon has played he has largely underperformed considering the expectations fans had for him. Not only has he not put together any big games but he has struggled to even earn targets, to give fans a moments that makes everyone go, “Oh that’s vintage Josh Gordon”.

So, that begs the question, has the Josh Gordon ship sailed?

Many have already come to a conclusion especially because of the Chiefs’ history with veteran flyer pickups of recent memory. Maybe Gordon is just another whiff that we all convinced ourselves still had something to give. Then there’s a small portion of the fan base, including myself, that haven’t quite given up yet.

Why? Well let’s start with this, even though Josh Gordon has been here for about 7 weeks now we need to acknowledge that’s only 7 weeks with no training camp, no preseason, and Gordon has been thrown into the fire, relatively speaking. What were fans expecting exactly for a guy that not only hadn’t been on the team, but had been out of the NFL for basically two years?

There’s also this trope that it takes a super long time to learn the Andy Reid offense as a receiver. While I do think that’s ridiculous, there is some truth to Reid’s offense being one of the more complicated to learn in all the NFL.

Speaking of Reid and company, I do think they play a part in Gordon’s lack of impact so far. Tight end Noah Gray has recently emerged as a factor in recent weeks with emphasis being put on getting him the ball. Particularly against the Raiders, I recall a drive where the Chiefs went to Gray two or three times consecutively and the last play of that series resulted in Gray’s first career touchdown.

It was clear the plan was to get Gray the ball and nobody else. Why can they not scheme up a single target for Josh Gordon in the same way? The strangest part is how Reid and the coaches keep talking up Gordon and saying he’s almost there every week and then we don’t really see the intent when it comes gametime. Most of Gordon’s targets to this point have quite frankly been broken plays or bad throws by Patrick Mahomes.

I don’t think this is all about Gordon’s ability. I’ve seen and heard a lot of fans using his Chiefs stint as confirmation that he’s washed up. I’m not sure how you can really say that. They haven’t even tried to get him involved. He’s also still got the pyhsical ability he’s always had. Yes, he’s on the other side of 30, but so is Travis Kelce and look what he’s doing. Plus Gordon’s body is still pretty fresh because he was out of football so frequently due to suspension.

I do believe that things will eventually fall into place for the Chiefs and Josh Gordon, but in order for it to happen there has to be more effort put towards getting him involved and making defenses respect him. If teams know you aren’t really going to truly trust anyone but Hill and Kelce then they’re going to dare everyone else on the offense to beat them.

We’ve seen the Chiefs offense come alive a little bit in recent weeks, but imagine how dangerous it could be if Josh Gordon started being even 75% of what he was in his prime? It would be an entirely new dynamic that other teams aren’t prepared for.

All football aside, I hope it works out for Gordon. It really does seem like he’s turned his life around this time and he’s stated how he wants to make Kansas City a long-term home. You always want things to work out for a player who talks that way about your team and city.

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