Last week in this space we discussed all of the question marks the Patriots had, particularly at the wide receiver position.
One of those questions was answered Friday night, when – seemingly out of the blue – it was announced that Josh Gordon would be reinstated following an indefinite suspension from violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
“We are all rooting for Josh to succeed, both personally and professionally,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Everyone shares in that hope and will continue to support him to every extent possible. But as Josh acknowledged, ultimately his success is up to him.”
As we learned last season with Gordon, he’s no sure thing to play a full season due to his off-the-field demons. In fact, he hasn’t played a full season in the league since his rookie year in Cleveland in 2012.
But at 28-years-old, and given the flashes we saw with him last year, Patriots fans have every reason to be excited about Gordon donning the Flying Elvis helmet again.
Gordon showed his ability right out of the gate with the Pats as in his second game in a New England uniform he leapt over two Colts defenders to haul in a 34-yard touchdown grab from Tom Brady. The play had many reminiscing about the Brady to Randy Moss connection from a decade ago, as Gordon possesses more raw, “go-up-and-get-it” athleticism than any Pats receiver since Moss.
Gordon also had a 55-yard reception against the Bears in Chicago last October when he appeared to have run out of gas while on his way to what should have been a touchdown, and he had a 130-yard receiving day in early November against the Packers.
In games in which Gordon played last year, the Patriots went 8-3, but two of those three losses came in Gordon’s final two appearances on the team before his suspension. He had five catches for 96 yards in that memorable 34-33 loss to Miami in early December, but he was basically a no-show the following week when he had just one catch for 19 yards in a 17-10 loss to Pittsburgh. Gordon was suspended four days after the Steelers game.
The Patriots wound up winning every game the rest of the way without Gordon, as Rob Gronkowski was forced into a situation where he had to become one of Brady’s top targets once again.
With Gronk now retired, the Patriots will once again count on Gordon to be one of Brady’s primary receivers. It’s a flip of the coin as to whether it will ultimately work out, but nonetheless the Patriots’ receiving corps looks a whole lot better than it did one week ago.