The New England Patriots passing game has been among the best in the NFL through the first two games of the 2019 season. Part of the Patriots’ success has been its variety of receiving options. With slot receivers and check-downs occupying linebackers and safeties, it allows outside targets to get single coverage downfield.
That’s where Josh Gordon makes his living. Gordon can be the Patriots’ biggest receiving threat and has been talked about as part of the puzzle to replacing Rob Gronkowski this season. His size is most daunting when covering Gordon and allows him to make grabs in double, sometimes triple, coverage as well as break tackles.
But his physicality, more than his speed, has an advantage. He is not only tough to bring down, but can withstand hard contact and even block behind the line of scrimmage on misdirection plays.
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Josh Gordon Matchup vs Jets
Last season in Week 12 when the Patriots played at the Jets, Josh Gordon had one of his biggest games of the season. Playing in 53 snaps, 76 percent of New England’s offensive plays, Gordon had five catches for 70 yards. Though he didn’t score a touchdown he was tough for the Jets secondary to cover.
This year, the Jets won’t have Buster Skrine to help in coverage as he did last season against the Patriots. With Flash suspended for the teams’ Week 17 rematch, it was Chris Hogan who took on the role of deep threat and saw 94 percent of the snaps.
In his career against the Jets, he’s averaged nearly six receptions per game for a total of 167 yards. His 21 targets against the Jets show that he’s traditionally able to get open against that type of defensive alignment.
Should You Start Josh Gordon in Week 3?
The biggest question on Gordon is whether he will be seeing a similar amount of snaps with Antonio Brown joining the receiving corps. The one downside to having a pair of equally impressive outside receivers is that they could take touches away from each other.
In the case of Brown, we saw this scenario materialize last week in Miami. When Brown was fed, Gordon was often an afterthought. It was the same in the second half when Gordon finally got some catches after earning separation while Brown was without a catch.
Therein lies a challenge. Sure, the Jets secondary can give up some big-time plays, it happened against the Browns with Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. But we’ve seen that dynamic already affect touches for the two of them in Cleveland. When Beckham shines, Landry has almost been an afterthought.
Should the Patriots balance out there touches in Week 3, Gordon could do some real damage downfield against a smaller Jets secondary. In a PPR league, while he might not turn heads with the number of catches he makes, he’ll make up for it with long yardage plays. It’s worth a shot starting him but not in your WR1 or maybe even WR2 spot, but as a Flex.
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