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Looking into Josh Gordon’s snaps against Washington

On Monday’s Out of Structure podcast, we discussed why we didn’t see much of Gordon during his second game as a Chief.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On the latest episode of the Arrowhead Pride Out of Structure podcast, we answered all of your questions relating to the Kansas City Chiefs and their 31-13 victory over the Washington Football Team in Week 6.

The topic for which we had the most questions was the team’s use of wide receiver Josh Gordon. After one catch over eight snaps in his Chiefs debut, Gordon played two more snaps against Washington — but didn’t record a target.

When we got these questions on the podcast, I wasn’t able to say exactly what his game looked like — but since then, I’ve watched every one of his 11 snaps from Sunday. Here’s what happened on those snaps:

  • Six were designed for him to block. After making a good block on a receiver screen earlier in the game, he whiffed on a similar play — which led to wide receiver Tyreek Hill being tackled behind the line of scrimmage.
  • Three were quick slant routes; two of them were in the red zone.
  • Two were deeper, downfield routes where quarterback Patrick Mahomes didn’t look at him — and he wasn’t covered.

The first red-zone slant was on Kansas City’s second drive — and it was set up to go to him.

Gordon is aligned as the lone receiver on the left side of the formation. Following the pre-snap motion of the running back to the flat, the other four potential receivers are all on the right side. This moves the defense to the right — and creates a big window for Gordon to win on a slant route.

But Gordon was covered tightly and didn’t get much separation. Mahomes could have tried a throw, but his lack of experience with Gordon may have made him look elsewhere.

On this play, Gordon is once again isolated on one side of the formation. This time, he releases inside the cornerback and works back to the sideline on a corner route. He gets on top of the cornerback while the deep safety is occupied with another route. In short, Gordon is open for a big pass deep — but unfortunately, Mahomes is swallowed up in pressure pretty quickly.

If Mahomes had been able to give Gordon a chance, it could have been the receiver’s first opportunity to prove he is a legitimate big-play threat.

Besides those plays, Gordon didn’t get many other chances. He was strictly an outside receiver, playing three snaps in the first half and eight in the second — most of them after the game was decided.

Gordon is still getting accustomed to the offense — and against a struggling secondary that allowed other Kansas City receivers to succeed, his individual talent wasn’t needed as much. I think we’ll see Gordon’s biggest impact when the Chiefs face a secondary that is too talented for the other receivers to overcome; in that situation, Gordon’s natural ability will give him a better chance.

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