Deep in the confines of Lincoln Financial Field, the Kanas City Chiefs’ locker room was exuberant on Sunday following their comfortable 42-30 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The victory not only halted their losing streak at two but also secured Andy Reid a pivotal win for the record books.
The Week 4 victory was Reid’s 100th as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, making him the first coach in NFL history to reach the century mark in wins with two different franchises. Fittingly, the other franchise just so happens to be the Eagles, leading to a memorable day for the man his players dub “Big Red.”
However, amidst the chaos that is a winning locker room, a few individuals may have started to feel some heat when it comes to their spot on the roster. And if they haven’t felt the pressure yet, they should. According to Ian Rapaport of NFL.com, former All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon could see himself elevated to the active roster after Kansas City signed him to the practice squad last week.
Rapaport stated how Gordon’s first week impressed the Kansas City’s brass, so much so that they are seriously considering adding him to the 45-man roster before their Sunday night showdown with the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium. Many find this announcement curious because Reid is notorious for possessing a complex playbook. Newly-signed players usually struggle to make an impact early on, i.e., LeSean McCoy last year.
Let’s be clear: This has far less to do with Josh Gordon and his ability to catch himself up on the intricacies of an NFL playbook. The reason for Gordon’s ascension lies more in the continued inability of any pass-catcher not named Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce to have an impact on any game. Sunday’s win in Philadelphia may have been the final nail in the coffin.
The supporting cast of wide receivers — Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, and Byron Pringle — combined for four catches totaling only 39 yards. The production alone is troublesome, but Patrick Mahomes only targeted the trio on five passes all game, which may be more telling. Either they aren’t getting open, or Mahomes doesn’t trust them. No matter how you wish to interpret the reasoning behind the lack of positive results, it’s a concern.
No one can claim this is knee-jerk criticism. Many were clamoring for a more accomplished WR2 all summer and leading into training camp. Fans and analysts questioned how Hardman would take the next step beyond being more than just a gadget-type player.
The coaching staff pushed five-year veteran Demarcus Robinson and the third-year pro Byron Pringle to step up and expand their roles. However, neither has proven reliable.
With all three wide receivers failing to leave their mark on the field, Reid and general manager Brett Veach turned to the newly reinstated Gordon last Monday. Seven days later, it seems that they are discontinuing the experiment to fill the No. 2 wide receiver role internally.
Chiefs fans should temper their expectations if Gordon becomes part of the active roster this Sunday. He hasn’t played an NFL game since when he was with the New England Patriots in 2019. And while Gordon was productive when needed, he never was quite the All-Pro talent from his early years with the Cleveland Browns. But make no mistake, he will play a role. As Rapaport stated, Reid would deploy Gordon only in specific packages, meaning he has yet to master the entire playbook. Expect his role to expand as the season progresses.
However, even if he only secures, say, four catches for 39 yards on Sunday, it would still match what Hardman, Robinson, and Pringle could muster together against Philadelphia a week prior. It’s a low standard for Gordon to match.
A common mantra in NFL circles is it’s a “What have you done for me lately?” league. Kansas City’s trio of young receivers is certainly learning this lesson the hard way.