Even after Josh Gordon recorded his first 100-yard game as a member of the Patriots, even after he and Tom Brady hit on their first back-shoulder throw of the season, it's reasonable to assume Gordon's role in the offense has room to grow.
There's more the Patriots can put on Gordon's plate, and there's more he can give them.
For instance, one area where Gordon should only be able to help the Patriots moving forward is to pick themselves up out of the (almost) basement of the NFL's rankings in explosive plays created. They're tied for second-to-last in the league with 27 explosive plays (runs of 15 yards or more and passes of 20 yards or more).
But the fact that Gordon has been able to do as much as he has? It's been startling for a quarterback who's seen receivers come and go for the better part of the last two decades -- and seen more than his share struggle with Patriots offensive concepts when they've had more time than Gordon to adapt.
"I just think it's so impressive, in my view, what he's done in a short period of time and how he's assumed this specific role in our offense," Brady said Saturday. "Last week – I don’t know how much participation it was – but it was a lot. That's a very challenging thing to do. The receiver position in our offense takes years for most guys to understand and learn nuances and intricacies of not only our plays, but how to get open within the scheme, how to gain my trust, and he's done it in such a short period of time."
For Gordon, who was pegged quickly by Patriots coaches as a player who'd be able to absorb weekly game plans without issue, the environment in New England has a lot to do with his quick success. He's played 124 of a possible 142 snaps in his team's last two games.
"Everybody’s bought in," Gordon said. "It’s a great space and environment to work, space to focus, lock in. You know, it’s a breeding ground for excellence. You can’t do anything but get involved and help become a part of it, really."
For Brady, having all in his current arsenal weapons available to him is still a relatively new phenomenon. Julian Edelman has played in just three games. Edelman and Rob Gronkowski have played in just two of those together. Gordon is still working his way into the offense.
And even if they're not quite at full strength -- Sony Michel is doubtful for Monday night with a knee injury -- they're close. And for a passing game that's dependent upon precision, rhythm and spacing, getting Edelman, Gronkowski and Gordon on the field as much as possible could yield some eye-opening results later in the season.
The team is already scoring at an impressive clip, hitting at least 38 points in each of their last four games, and the offense is in some ways still only "in its infancy," according to Brady.
And if Gordon can continue to progress, Brady's recent insistence that the team could be hanging 50 points in a given week may not seem overly ambitious.
"I don’t think we're where we necessarily can be in the future if we just keep working hard at it," Brady said of his connection with Gordon. "Like my relationship with Julian – I mean, it has many, many years of practices and film sessions and individual sessions that are kind of in the bank, so to speak. I think you've just got to try and build those up as much as you can in a short period of time with a newer player.
"But, typically, the more you play with a receiver the better it gets, and I just think we're trying to make improvements on a weekly basis. For him to play the role that he's played is a credit to him, what he's been doing and what his routine here has been. I know he's got a lot of great support and everyone wants to see him do as well as he possibly can."
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