Josh Gordon: New England Patriots X-Factors

Josh Gordon
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Based on raw talent alone, Josh Gordon might be the most physically gifted wide receiver to play for the New England Patriots since Randy Moss. While he didn’t play a full season, Gordon was one of the more reliable weapons in New England’s offense while he was there. During his truncated season with New England, the former second-round supplemental pick recorded 41 receptions for 737 yards and four touchdowns in just 11 games. He did this despite missing the majority of the previous four seasons and learning the offense on the fly. If he returns to the field, Gordon has the chance to be one of the best wide receivers in the game. However, a plethora of off-field issues stands between Gordon and the football field.

Ja’Whaun Bentley: New England Patriots X-Factors

New England Patriots X-Factors: Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon outperformed all realistic expectations set upon him in 2018. Gordon hadn’t consistently played football since 2013 and started the year on a different roster. However, Gordon’s natural talent and football smarts eventually won out as he transformed into one of New England’s best wide receivers.

At his best, Gordon boasts an elite ability to win contested catches and the quickness and strength to be a monster after the catch. The Patriots haven’t had an outside threat like Gordon since Randy Moss. Brandin Cooks could beat defenses deep, but he won purely with speed and not physicality. During his 11 games in New England, Gordon demonstrated the ability to work each level of the field, break tackles, and get every yard possible.

Perhaps what’s most impressive about Gordon’s season is how fast he earned Tom Brady’s trust. New England’s system isn’t easy to learn, as it requires the receiver to see the defense exactly as Brady sees it. Because of this, established stars like Chad Ochocinco and Joey Galloway have struggled in New England. Gordon, however, managed to pick up the system and immediately develop into one of Brady’s favorite targets. This wasn’t just a product of pre-designed plays; Brady consistently looked Gordon’s ways in big moments and Gordon typically answered the call.

Gordon’s Obstacles

Josh Gordon is borderline unstoppable when he’s on the field, but off-field issues ultimately control his destiny. Gordon has a long history of substance abuse dating all the way back to middle school. Gordon has only played a full 16-game season one time, and that was all the way back in 2012.

Obviously, the most important thing for Gordon is ensuring his long-term mental and physical health. Addiction is a disease and it’s a fight I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The Patriots should do everything they can to help Gordon in his fight against addiction.

That said, all signs point towards Gordon wanting to play in 2019. However, right now he’s facing yet another indefinite suspension for substance abuse. Nobody knows if or when the NFL will lift this suspension, and there’s a decent chance he won’t play this year. Even if he does come back, Gordon is just one slip-up away from facing another lifetime ban.

Ultimately, Gordon has the ability to completely transform New England’s offense. He was the Patriots’ second-best receiver despite starting the season with Cleveland and hardly playing since 2013. If the NFL lifts his suspension and he can stay clean, New England could have one of the best wide receiver duos in the league. However, Gordon faces the unenviable task of trying to exorcise his demons and stave off addiction. Gordon’s battles go beyond football, and the Patriots organization should do everything they can to keep his life on the right track. Anything he provides on the football field is just extra.

Ja’Whaun Bentley: New England Patriots X-Factors

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