It’s done. Shut down the Dez Bryant to New England hype train. The New England Patriots have found their low-risk, high-reward pass-catcher of the 2018 season with Josh Gordon. But as happy as the offense should be with Gordon aboard, the fact that the Patriots had to make their 25th transaction since camp began to get Tom Brady some help. With the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrating in the rearview mirror, the Patriots receiving corps has some redemption ahead in Detroit.
Josh Gordon, New England Patriots Receivers Look for Week Three Redemption
Darius Slay did not participate in Thursday’s practice with a concussion, and Jamal Agnew was limited with a shoulder injury. While these injury designations aren’t likely to keep the two out of Sunday’s game, the Patriots receivers could take serious advantage of Detroit’s corners not performing at full tilt.
Rob Gronkowski: No Back-to-back Duds
The last time Rob Gronkowski saw back-to-back weeks with fewer than seven targets was October 2, 2016, and the limited number of targets was a direct result of limited play due to a hamstring injury. Barring that injury, it was October 18, 2015 when Gronkowski was targeted five times for the second consecutive game. The monstrous tight end has only seen back-to-back games with fewer than seven targets three times since becoming a full-time starter in 2011. And in those six games, he had an 80+ catch percentage in four of them.
Could Detroit follow Jacksonville’s gameplan to shut down Gronk? Is it likely it’s successful? History says no.
Josh Gordon: Redemption for the Last Four Years
It’s no secret that Gordon is the NFL’s talented troubled son. In the last four seasons, he’s played 11 games. Gordon has the opportunity to be the next story in a long line of players whose careers were petering out before being revitalized by the Patriots. Mike Vrabel. Wes Welker. Willie McGinest. Gordon could be the next name on the list.
But, unfortunately, this is not the week that Gordon begins his comeback. His trade wasn’t technically finalized for days after it was initially reported. Gordon didn’t practice with the team until Wednesday. Despite the fact that Gordon worked with Todd Haley in Cleveland, and Haley hails from the Bill Parcells coaching tree, it’ll still take some doing before Gordon gets a hang of McDaniels’ offense.
Beyond even that hiccup, Gordon is still dealing with that hamstring injury he sustained before leaving Cleveland. He was listed as limited in practice on Thursday.
That being said, if Gordon is active this week, it can be expected that Brady targets him a couple of times and Gordon’s talent turns those targets into decent yards, but it’s unlikely that Gordon sees high target volume in week three.
Phillip Dorsett: No Redemption Necessary
It’s 2018, and Phillip Dorsett is the best receiver on the New England Patriots. What a world, huh? The man has caught 12 of 14 targets, unprecedented for the young receiver through the first two games of a season. Dorsett is second in targets only to Brady’s favorite short pass specialist, James White.
If Gordon plays this week, expect Dorsett to wind up with some serious yardage as the Lions secondary (now under the organizational umbrella of Matt Patricia, the man that carefully cultivated 2017’s “bend for three quarters and break if you want to” Patriots defense) tries to cover Gordon and Gronk all game.
Chris Hogan: Bring Back 7/11
Chris Hogan needs to re-establish himself as a decent threat in the Patriots receiving arsenal. He’s caught 40 percent of his targets this season for a measly 53 yards. Yes, he has two scores, but this offense understands that Hogan can be so much more than a reliable red zone target. His ability to kill zone coverage and stretch the field has made him an integral part of the offense. When Julian Edelman returns in week five, Hogan might find himself buried in an avalanche of receiving talent. This could be a make-or-break game for him.
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