After losing 26-10 to the Detroit Lions on Sunday Night Football in Week 3, the New England Patriots need a boost at the wide receiver position, which Josh Gordon could provide.
The New England Patriots shocked the NFL world by trading for former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, adding him to a wide receiver corps that currently includes Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson with Julian Edelman suspended.
This week’s upcoming rivalry game against the Miami Dolphins will be Edelman’s final game away from the team, but New England is still in need of a short-term boost. Right now, the Dolphins are the best team in the AFC East, rolling to an undefeated record behind Ryan Tannehill’s sharp decision-making and a defense that is sixth in the league in points allowed.
Gordon could give the Patriots a much-needed boost on Sunday against a red-hot Dolphins squad, but head coach Bill Belichick isn’t ready to commit to his new wide receiver suiting up. Belichick simply said, via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, “we’ll see” in response to a question about Gordon playing in Week 4.
There was a chance for Gordon to play in Week 3, but the Pats elected to make him an inactive. Without Gordon to provide a spark, the Patriots passing attack put together an embarrassing performance, as no wide receiver could get open for Tom Brady, even with the Lions focused on star tight end Rob Gronkowski.
New England cannot afford a repeat performance, because losing to the Dolphins in Week 4 would drop them to 1-3 and give the Dolphins a 4-0 start. Of course, the Patriots wouldn’t be in jeopardy, but a three-game deficit is a considerable one in the context of a 16-game season.
Belichick staying mum on Gordon’s status is no surprise because if the Patriots are indeed desperate for production at wide receiver, they don’t want to tip their hand to Miami. I’m sure Dolphins head coach Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Matt Burke will prepare as if Gordon is playing, but since there’s no film of Gordon in the Patriots offense, New England does have a unique advantage in that aspect.
It’s an advantage that the stingy Belichick will want to take advantage of, especially since he sure as heck loves playing mind games with division rivals.
Gordon is one of those rare talents who provide the legitimate game-changing ability, as we saw in his lone game with the Browns this year. Recall that Gordon’s touchdown reception in the fourth quarter of Week 1 tied the game at 21-21, and it proved to be the final scoring play of the draw between the Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Patriots once saw that game-breaking ability first-hand in 2013, when Gordon scored an 80-yard touchdown against them in Week 14, nearly spearheading an upset for a Jason Campbell-led Browns team.
This Week 4 matchup between the Patriots and Dolphins will be one of the biggest storylines to watch, and there’s nobody more befitting of being the potential x-factor than Gordon. While Belichick did praise Gordon’s work in learning the offense, it’s anyone’s guess about how big of a role he’ll play for a Patriots offense that needs a game-changer in the passing game following back-to-back duds against Jacksonville and Detroit.