Patriots: N’Keal Harry’s return makes it obvious Jakobi Meyers is No. 1 receiver
By Jerry Trotta
The return of N’Keal Harry on Sunday night proved that Jakobi Meyers is the Patriots’ No. 1 wide receiver.
After escaping MetLife Stadium with a victory thanks to a last-second field goal last week, fans in New England probably had no idea what to expect from the Patriots on Sunday night against the AFC favorite Baltimore Ravens.
When all was said and done, however, head coach Bill Belichick’s side delivered their best performance of the season, winning 23-17 in a tornado to keep their playoff hopes alive. As far as big takeaways are concerned, the defense proved it still has a ton of potential despite missing several key pieces.
On the other side of the ball, Damien Harris further showcased why he should be the Patriots’ starting running back for the remainder of 2020 and beyond, racking up a career-high 121 yards on 5.5 yards per attempt against an elite defense.
Equally important for the future, Jakobi Meyers continued to announce himself as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver. Why do we say this? Because 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry returned from a two-game absence with a concussion and earned significantly less playing time than the breakout star.
A 60% snap share is nothing to scoff at for Harry, but it speaks volumes to the coaching staff’s newfound trust in Meyers that he played 98% of the offensive snaps. The monsoon resulted in Cam Newton dropping back to pass just 17 times, but the second-year pro still made the most of his receiving opportunities, logging a team-high five catches for 59 yards on seven targets.
He even contributed a passing touchdown on a perfectly-executed trick play in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 13-10 lead just before halftime. Harry, meanwhile, failed to register a target despite seeing the field for 35 snaps. We hate to come down on the oft-injured wideout, but these sheer no-shows, let alone a lack of production, are starting to become a regular occurrence.
Sunday night marked the second game this season in which Harry was held without a catch and the fourth time he was held under 35 yards receiving. That simply isn’t going to cut it for a player who was touted as highly as he was coming out of Arizona State last year.
The undrafted Meyers, on the other hand, has now led the Patriots in receiving in four straight games (!), across which he’s racked up 27 receptions for 346 yards on 37 targets. For those counting, that’s good for an elite 72.9% catch rate and equates to an average of 6.7 catches for 86.5 yards per contest.
Forget New England’s run-heavy offense; those numbers are good enough to be the No. 1 receiver on most teams in the NFL. Fans have been singing Meyers’ praises for over a month now, and it seems like the Patriots’ coaching staff is fully aware of the stud he’s quickly morphing into.