Last night New England Patriots fans witnessed one of the worst wide receivers debacles in recent Patriots history. With Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, Zach Sudfeld and Shane Vereen all missing in action, a lot was to be expected out of the rookie wide receivers, most notably Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, and was this ever a disaster. But while it seems like they could not possibly have played any worse, you need to be patient with these two potential stars.
In the Brady-Belichick era, I have never seen two receivers struggle so much like Dobson and Thompkins did. Dobson started the game with a bang, scoring on a 39 yard pass from Tom Brady. But after that, things devolved into about as nightmarish a situation as you could’ve imagined. Dobson dropped a pass on an out, then dropped what would’ve been a touchdown had he actually held on, and maintained his balance. He dropped a third pass on the goaline that would’ve been another touchdown, which caused, in my opinion, a completely warranted explosion of anger from Brady. Thompkins struggled as well, still seemingly unaware of what he was supposed to do, didn’t have the greatest game either, a continuation of his terrible start against the Bills. He managed only two catches for 47 yards. He had a nice one down the sideline where he was wide open, which he caught, but proceeded to lose his balance and stumbled out of bounds. If Thompkins could’ve kept his feet under him, something he has oddly struggled with the first two games, it would’ve been a touchdown. The other notable play that Thompkins was a part of, was a beautiful almost catch at the end of the half, which was reviewed and ruled a drop.
So with a quick summary of what each of them did, I’ll tell you why you as a Patriots fan, need to settle down, and give these guys a few more weeks to get properly prepared. Part of the reason that they struggled so bad, and are seemingly unprepared to play, is partially because the entire offense was overhauled. In a normal offseason, you bring in one or two new pieces to your offense, and it is much easier to get them ready to play. Now when you bring in six new major offensive pieces (this includes Jake Ballard before he got cut), you have a lot more work to do. It’s tougher to take the necessary time to get three rookies ready to play, with one of the toughest to learn playbooks in the NFL. Another reason not to be too worried about these two, is that the drops are easily fixable mistakes. Dobson and Thompkins do not have bad hands, contrary to what you may have heard on twitter last night, I honestly believe a lot of this was rookie nerves. The two were, for the most part, in the right positions to makes plays, but due to a mix of nerves and weather, couldn’t bring the ball in consistently.
So how long do they get this period of grace? I’ll give them till week 8, when Gronk should be fully ready to go, Amendola back from his injury, and Brady has had enough time to work with a full load of weapons, save for Shane Vereen who comes back week 11 of the IR designated to return list. It’s pretty clear to me that these two are incredibly talented, and a much-needed part of this offense. They were able to create separation from their defenders, something Aaron Dobson struggled mightily with in training camp and preseason, and able to make plays on the ball. They also showed just a slight glimpse of what we might see later in the year, a true deep game. Brady threw the ball deep more times in this game, than I saw him do for most of last year. Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson have a lot to add to this offense, but they had the weight of the world thrown upon them by the media, and have the pressure of playing with arguably the hardest to please, and most intense quarterback of this generation in Tom Brady. That’s a lot to handle for any player, let alone two rookie. So please, I beg of you Patriots fans, to give these two a few weeks before you judge them. Would you be expected to work and produce at a high level only weeks after getting to a new job?
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