Patriots WR N’Keal Harry hasn’t, uh, exactly been crushing it this year, and Bill Belichick didn’t exactly endorse him.
A lot was made about the budding relationship between New England Patriots QB Cam Newton and second-year wideout N’Keal Harry prior to the 2020 season, and the fruits of that friendship seemed to be on display in Week 2.
In that close loss in Seattle, Harry often served as a safety valve for Newton on third downs, making eight catches on 12 targets overall throughout the game. But since then, as the team’s plan has been in flux overall, Harry’s effectiveness has waned.
Without Newton in Kansas City, Harry was a non-factor. In two games with Newton against the Raiders and Broncos, it was more of the same, though.
And, when pressed on the non-leap his big first-round gamble has taken, Bill Belichick didn’t exactly endorse Harry’s efforts while discussing how well he’s been taking advantage of his opportunities.
Belichick expanded upon the troubles his team has faced in terms of practice time in recent weeks, instead of mentioning any real specifics about what Harry’s brought.
"“Well, as a team we need more time on the practice field than we’ve had recently. Hopefully we’ll start getting that this week and that will be good for all of us. I think we all need to work on fundamentals and awareness and anticipation and things like that. So that’s true of every position. Obviously in the passing game the quarterbacks, receivers, backs, tight ends, there’s a lot of that. We need it on defense as well, defensive recognition. That’s something that I’d say we’re all maybe not starting all over but we need a lot of work on that. So I think we’ve made some gains but we need to do more on the field so hopefully we’ll be able to do that this week.“So that’s N’Keal, that’s everybody. He’s way ahead of where he was last year because he’s been on the field and he’s been practicing. There was a point in time where we had strung together a lot of quality reps. We need to do that again.”"
It’s worth remembering once again, in this time of need, exactly who Belichick and Co. passed on in order to take Harry last year, attempting to reverse their record on first-round wideouts: Deebo Samuel, AJ Brown, Diontae Johnson, Terry McLaurin … Darius Slayton … many more … and DK Metcalf.
Instead of thriving with any of these weapons in place, New England has seen Harry’s role decrease weekly.
Can some of that be blamed on scattered practice time? Sure. Possibly.
But answering for Harry’s struggles by going off on an unprompted screed about how the team, as a whole, isn’t fitting together says it all about how little the focus of the question has done.