The Patriots learned first-hand what a mistake passing on Deebo Samuel was on Sunday. N’Keal Harry was not his equal.
When the dust settled on Sunday following an embarrassing 33-6 loss, narratives were strewn about the Gillette turf everywhere you looked.
Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham combining for a no-show while Tom Brady thrived in Tampa? We’ve got that. What about Jimmy Garoppolo on the other sideline, effortlessly guiding a victory featuring repeated bludgeoning of the vaunted Pats defense up the middle? Sure. Bill Belichick wasn’t immune, either, with his second consecutive stink bomb following a few truncated practice sessions earning scorn for a lack of cohesion.
But what about a wide receiver battle that flew under the radar of most angered fans?
On one side, you had Deebo Samuel, unleashing a series of effective gadget plays on end-arounds, speeding past the Patriots’ defense on numerous occasions. On the other? N’Keal Harry, who the Patriots chose over Samuel, was ineffective and injured midway through the first half.
We know the story of Harry all too well by now. A rare Belichick first-round wide receiver seems to be an all-too-common Belichick offensive draft misfire, and there were a number of top-tier wideouts available in a line behind the Arizona State product (wither DK Metcalf?).
But when the contrast is laid out ahead of you, and the fit is as visibly perfect as Samuel would’ve seemed in the Patriots’ backfield wreaking havoc, or lined up outside out-running DBs left and right.
Samuel is a speed demon the likes of which the Pats haven’t had in years, an improved version of Phillip Dorsett who can line up in any number of tricky looks. Harry, on the other hand, after a chemistry-building offseason with Newton (supposedly) has continued to look lost on most routes. He’s brought a sense of toughness to the team, targeted on more than a few scary hits to the head. But beyond that, he hasn’t shown an exceptional skill.
Samuel has shown plenty.
Terry McLaurin and DK Metcalf may be the most prototypical receivers that Belichick and Co. passed on in 2019, but Samuel’s the trickster who could’ve opened up New England’s offense in so many ways, both under Tom Brady and Newton, in which it is currently closed.
And we saw the shame up close on Sunday, as Kyle Shanahan power-ran the ball down the Pats’ throat for hours, and exploited matchups on the edge, too.