By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Landing in New England via Cleveland with an existing hamstring injury and absolutely no familiarity with the Patriot offense, Josh Gordon’s almost two-week wait to make his Patriots debut may have felt like an eternity. And that’s just for Gordon — never mind a stagnant Patriot ‘O’ that totaled just 133 yards through the air in Week 3.
But it’s a wait with early returns that have almost made it worth it for both parties, as the 27-year-old Gordon finally suited up and looked every bit capable in Sunday’s 38-7 win over the Miami Dolphins.
“It took a lot of effort and time and work put in studying,” Gordon admitted after the victory when asked about his process to activation. “All around, just a concerted effort from the training staff and what I could do on my end and try to make it work. But, it was an awesome experience and I really enjoyed it and a great opportunity.”
Getting the start for Patriots offense that began their day with a 13-play, 74-yard drive that culminated with their first lead since Week 1’s home opener, Gordon welcomed himself to Tom Brady with a 13-yard pickup on a third-and-6. Running a slant route, Gordon hauled in the pass through a tight window pressured between safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and linebacker Jerome Baker, and seemingly earned Brady’s trust with immediate results.
And when Brady targeted Gordon a second time, the pass came up incomplete, but still moved the chains, as Gordon successfully drew a penalty on the Dolphins’ Xavien Howard. That kept the drive going for New England, and Brady turned it into points on the board with a 55-yard strike to Cordarrelle Patterson three plays later.
“He’s put in a lot of work, a lot of time trying to understand where to line up and what to do, and he came up with some big plays today,” the 41-year-old quarterback said of Gordon. “He kind of got us going in certain areas. Everyone played pretty good who was out there today, so it was great to have him out there.”
Gordon, though limited to just 18 snaps, even came through an even better, confidence-boosting grab in the second half, as he fought off two defenders and turned a reception from Brady into a 19-yard gain. After that play, Brady made it a point to find Gordon and give him an extra pat or two, as if to fully accept him as a real option.
“It’s awesome, just period, catching a pass from Tom at any point in time,” Gordon said of that post-catch moment with the Patriot quarterback. “He’s been rooting for me, and it’s been awesome to have his support and his love, as well as the rest of the teammates and staff here. Tom’s a passionate guy and I love that, and I love the game of football and I think we’re going to mesh just fine.”
Part of a win for the first time since Nov. 23, 2014, Gordon also understands the chance his career has been given with this move to a Patriots offense that will only get better with the Week 5 return of Julian Edelman.
“I have no doubt I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity,” Gordon, who arrived to New England having missed 54 of the last 64 games due to suspension, acknowledged. “I’m more than blessed. I’m extremely grateful to be put in this scenario. I think the only thing right for me to do is take full advantage of it. I’m loving it, I’m enjoying it, the guys here are great, it’s a real home environment and I feel as comfortable as ever here.
Gordon and the Patriots will look to build on this effort Thursday night when the Colts come to town.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter@_TyAnderson.