Patriots: Bill Belichick finally had something positive to say about N’Keal Harry

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 10: N'Keal Harry #15 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 10: N'Keal Harry #15 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Patriots HC Bill Belichick actually had some praise for wideout N’Keal Harry.

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, and with just a 2% chance to make the playoffs, it’s quite apparent that the New England Patriots need to focus on bolstering their lackluster passing game in the offseason.

Through 14 weeks, it ranks dead last in the NFL in touchdowns (8), 29th in both yards per game (185.4) and passer rating (77.3), and 28th in interceptions (14). While the inconsistencies of quarterback Cam Newton certainly haven’t helped matters, the Patriots’ pedestrian talent level on the perimeter has made it impossible to properly evaluate their QB.

How unreliable has the wide receiving corps been in 2020? Well, let’s just say that Bill Belichick has been left with no other choice but to jump at moral victories for certain members, which is something he would probably preach against in normal circumstances.

While speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the Patriots head coach spoke glowingly on the strides wideout N’Keal Harry has made in recent weeks.

We’ve been as tough as anybody on Harry (who hasn’t?) this season, so it would be wrong to not praise him after strong performances. At the same time, however, we’re not going to act like three receptions for 49 yards — albeit against a stingy Rams defense — is something to write home about.

In fairness to Harry, the Patriots’ offense looked its best on Thursday when Cam Newton was targeting him, even though it only happened four times in the game. The 2019 first-round pick showcased a determination in the air that we’ve only seen in glimpses over his first two seasons, going up and over his defender to come down with a pair of jump balls.

Check out this awesome airborne catch on a 2nd-and-20 at the start of the second half.

That right there is precisely what makes Harry’s inconsistency so maddening. It’s as clear as day that he has the requisite talent and physicality to be a stud, so why’s it taking so long to come together?

We’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt with his age (22), but other receivers who were taken after him — DK Metcalf, AJ Brown, Deebo Samuel, Diontae Johnson and Terry McLaurin, to name a few —  are tearing it up for their respective teams.

If you wanted to put a positive spin on Harry’s recent run, you could say that he’s compiled at least 40 receiving yards or a touchdown in three of the Patriots’ last four games. That’s not great by any stretch, but it’s a considerable improvement compared to where he was several weeks ago. And for that reason, Belichick was more than justified in giving him a special shoutout during his press conference.