KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Josh Gordon’s second-quarter touchdown has been a long time coming.
He was out of the league last season for repeated violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but the big and superbly talented player got a new lease on his career with Kansas City.
It’s been off to a rocky start, though.
Gordon joined the team in time for a Week 5 showdown with Buffalo on Oct. 10, but he’s yet to make a big impact with only two catches for 18 yards in eight games entering Sunday.
“I’m not happy with where I’m at currently, but I think that’s just me being a hard critic on myself,” Gordon said.
Coach Andy Reid’s offense is notoriously hard to learn with its unique verbiage and density.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is also a unique quarterback to play with given his propensity for second-reaction or off-schedule plays.
Still, Gordon has made the midseason transition to a different team twice in his NFL career and had to adjust to plenty of quarterbacks along the way.
“Sometimes it feels like a whirlwind,” Gordon admitted.
He said he tries to spend extra time watching film with coaches, studying game film and the playbook in his free time, working to understand the nuance of the scheme and “exactly what Pat wants to do and how he wants to do things.”
“He’s been patient with me, which I appreciate that,” Gordon said of playing with Mahomes.
That made Gordon’s first touchdown since the 2019 season opener when he was playing for New England — a tunnel screen for a 1-yard score — feel like a watershed moment.
“We’ve worked on that play for a couple weeks now and we were set up the perfect area, and he hit it and it worked perfectly,” Mahomes said.
Gordon hopes it provides a shot of confidence moving forward.
“Today was a big day I think toward moving in the right direction with that and a lot less second-guessing,” he said.
Gordon said he’s battled self-doubt in his return from a long NFL hiatus. He second guesses himself on routes, which makes him feel less fluid, and also in understanding where Mahomes wants him to be against certain looks or on certain plays.
“I don’t need to be so rigid in how it is on paper,” Gordon said. “I’m seeing how it’s drawn up and I want to do it exactly how I see it, but it’s not as robotic as it may seem. I’ve kind of got to just play ball as opposed to being so analytical about it.”
But Sunday was progress.
“It’s exciting, it’s rewarding, it’s a dream come true and it’s a blessing for sure,” Gordon said. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be up this week, but we’ve been practicing it for a couple weeks. Coach Reid had been reassuring me that I was going to get my opportunity. I had my trust in him and knew my time was going to come.”
As Kansas City zeroes in on the playoffs, a productive Gordon could go a long way in the quest for a third straight AFC championship.