Week 8 proved that RB Damien Harris and WR Jakobi Meyers need to continue playing prominent roles on the Patriots offense.
It’s not easy identifying positive takeaways after a gutting defeat that sends an injury-riddled team to 2-5 and with an outside chance (at best) to make the playoffs, but that’s simply where we are with the 2020 version of the New England Patriots.
The first thing that comes to mind is the improved display from the offense, which was down its top two wide receivers. Though quarterback Cam Newton fumbled it all away on the potential game-winning drive in the final minute of regulation, he found success both through the air and with his legs against a stingy Bills defense.
As far as pleasant surprises are concerned, we can’t help but look at running back Damien Harris and wideout Jakobi Meyers, both of whom (aside from Newton) were arguably the most instrumental players in terms of helping the Patriots remain within striking distance on the road in Buffalo.
How impressive was the sophomore tandem? Well, let’s just say that the following stats prove they should continue to play more when the likes of Sony Michel and N’Keal Harry return from injury.
The Patriots’ offense is in desperate need of playmakers who make the most out of their touches, and Michel and Harry simply haven’t done that this season. Couple that with their alarming proneness to injury, and head coach Bill Belichick shouldn’t give a thought to inserting them back into the starting lineup when they return to the field.
For the game, Harris handled 16 carries for 102 yards (6.4 YPC) and a touchdown, marking the third time in four games he’s averaged at least 5.8 yards per attempt and the second time in four contests that he’s eclipsed 100 yards on the ground.
Meyers, meanwhile, led the team in all the major receiving categories, racking up six catches for 58 yards on 10 targets, the latter of which equated to 40% of Newton’s pass attempts. After playing an average of 10.6% of the offensive snaps for the first three games of the season, the young WR has seen his role drastically increase in each of the last two contests.
Last weekend vs the 49ers, Meyers logged a 79% snap share and followed that up with a 98% tally against Buffalo on Sunday. The second-year pro has turned that into impressive production, racking up 10 catches (on 16 targets) for 118 yards and a two-point conversion during that span.
It’s not the least bit hyperbolic to say that Harris and Meyers look like the best players at their respective positions on the roster right now, and we will lose our minds if they don’t remain a focal part of the offense in Week 9 and beyond.