Josh Gordon and the New England Patriots wide receiver corps get the benefit of a long rest after decimating the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night in Week Five. And luckier still for the boys in navy blue, the Patriots face the Kansas City Chiefs in Week Six. It’ll be a good week to be a Patriots wide receiver.
New England Patriots Receivers Report for Week Six: Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman Set to Feast
Kansas City’s Defense
The loss of Marcus Peters has hit this secondary unbelievably hard. No team gives up more receiving yards than Kansas City. Through five games, the Chiefs have allowed 1,802 receiving yards, a full 200 yards more than the second-worst defense. No team has allowed more receptions through the first five weeks than Kansas City, either.
Star strong safety Eric Berry is questionable with an unidentified injury, and rotational safeties Armani Watts and Eric Murray suffered lower-body injuries in last week’s game. The Chiefs have been terrible over the middle of the field, posting a DVOA against the pass over the middle of the field well below the league average.
A Game of Minutes
The challenge for the Patriots this week is going to be trying to keep Patrick Mahomes and his unstoppable offensive assault off the field as long as possible. At home, the Patriots are averaging drives of 2:44 this season but have stretched drives up to 7:04. Interestingly enough, on five of the Patriots six longest-lasting drives at home, they passed more often than they rushed.
Flash(es) of Greatness
Let’s talk about Josh Gordon! The man ran a gorgeous post-corner route for a 34-yard touchdown to give Tom Brady his 500th career passing touchdown. Gordon has faced the Chiefs twice before and diced them.
The Chiefs current defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, was hired before the 2013 season. That year, Gordon accounted for more than a third of the Cleveland Browns total offensive yards against the Kansas City defense on only five receptions.
Cordarrelle Patterson got himself involved with the scoring against the Colts last week, as well. Patterson’s numbers are not dazzling anyone, but he’s demonstrated pretty reliable hands and enough invisibility to be successful on screen passes. The Chiefs have a below-average DVOA short along the right sideline, so Patterson will benefit from lining up in that direction. The Chiefs also have a league-worst DVOA when defending against pass-catching running backs, a role that Patterson has dabbled in this season.
Edelman, The Man
The last time Julian Edelman suited up against the Chiefs, he was largely ineffective. In 2014, the squirrely receiver caught four of eight for 23 yards. He was best utilized short right and short left, posting a 100 percent catch rate in these areas for the bulk of his yards in the blowout loss. Notably, he failed to corral either of his two targets short over the middle, where Kansas City is currently struggling the most on defense and where Brady is currently posting his best passer ratings.
2014 was a long time ago, and Edelman really only had Brandon LaFell on the roster for help in the receiving game. With many more moving parts and no more prime Sean Smith in the Kansas City secondary, Edelman’s numbers against the Chiefs should vastly improve.
Dorsett in Danger
Admittedly, I was a little disappointed in the reduction of Phillip Dorsett‘s role in last week’s win. The second-year Patriot caught all three of his targets for 25 yards. It was expected that his production would dip a little with Edelman back on the field and Josh Gordon’s gradual involvement with this offense, but Dorsett is in danger of being dangerously underutilized again.
Projecting the Depth Chart
Edelman and Gordon are the clear top options in this offense when it comes to receivers right now. Behind them, Dorsett’s vital performances in weeks one, two and four make him a better option to get the nod before Chris Hogan, who has struggled to make himself relevant at all this season despite a couple of scores. Given Dorsett’s familiarity with this offense and the chemistry he displayed with Brady early in the season, he has a legitimate shot to challenge Gordon for the spot of top speedster. Unfortunately for Dorsett, that’s going to rely a lot on Josh McDaniels’ playcalling and not his actual receiving talent. This week’s game will clear up the picture a little more about just how large the gap is between Gordon and Dorsett and whether or not the talented former Colt might be a piece worth moving in a midseason trade.