Vs Detroit Preview:
The 2nd most important thing to watch is of course
Wide Receivers. It is the Pats biggest weakness. They addressed the position nicely in the Draft and free agency. But the devastating loss of Gronk has still not been
addressed in this offense. What everyone seems to be forgetting is that Gronk was also a 3rd Tackle blocking in the run game. He helped Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead look great last season.
What Gronk did was help the run and the passing game like no other player last season. They could line him up inline and run power. What made him special was that they could then go into a 3-Wide passing formation without allowing the defense to substitute. The Pats would line up,
Gronk would motion into the slot and they would who suddenly be in a 3-Wide shotgun.
This allowed them to line up in a run formation and motion into a passing formation without substituting and visa verse.
That option is gone. Brady has two rookie WRs who look like his number two and number three
WRs. Their 3-Wide shotgun looks like Edelman and Harry outside, with Jakobi Myers in the Slot instead of Gronk. Relying on a rookie is troubling. Relying on two rookies is folly.
Phillip Dorsett is listed as second on the depth chart. I lost all faith in him last season. He could not get open in pattern. At Miami he had that knack for getting open deep in pattern. He lost that last season. So how does he help the offense? He did have 32 catches (for 290-yards) last season. Which is more than I remembered. But it is only two catches a game. He needs to start getting open over the top again to get on the field. He is not a number two WR.
I don’t know much about Maurice Harris, but he impressed me in the four days of practice. I thought he was much better than Dorsett in practice. He did have less receptions than Harris but more yards last season (28 for 304). He is not a number two WR.
Dontrelle Inman has been average. He was very impressive in practice. He had some sudden breaks that would get him open against anyone, but it was only a couple of times. He has been a below average WR in the NFL. But he has a lateral burst that could get him open consistent in pattern if he can handle it. However, he did not show it on the Colts or Bears. But he did showed that lateral burst for the Chargers in 2016 when he had 58 catches. I don’t think he is a number two WR.
So that leaves Harry. He was a legit Number One WR at ASU. I truly believe he has Number One potential. But certainly not this season. His fatal flaw is inconsistency. Which is always the flaw of rookies. He cannot be trusted this year, but he is so damn talented that he cannot be left on the Bench.
He is a guy who can make the Odell Beckham one-handed diving backwards catch on one play against USC, and then fair catch a punt at the 3-yardline on the next. That is a cardinal sin in BB’s
gospel of Football. If he fair catches the ball inside the ten, never mind inside the Five, he’ll be on the bench for a long while.
He is the kind of guy who did that in the USC
game. Then went on to catch a punt inside the five, f-ing turned and ran laterally across the field. That will get you benched on the Patriots. But worse, he actually
curved backwards on the punt return and curved back into the Endzone! In BB’s
gospel of football, retreating into the Endzone on a punt return is a cuttable offense.
But this is N’Keal Harry we’re talking about. He is as stunningly dynamic as he is tragically fatally flawed. He curled out of the Endzone and returned that M-Fer for a 102-yard punt return. He ran a 4.5 at the Combine, but he was running a 4.3 on that return. He made USC cover team look like girl scouts running with a box of cookies in their hands.
He can go for a 50-yard reception at any second. He will disappear or outright suck for a quarter. Then have 3 catches for 100-yards and a TD or two in the next quarter. He will be worse as a rookie. That inconsistency is why he dropped to the Pats at 32, and why I had him at 20 and not 2. He has to defeat that fatal flaw if he wants to be
the HOFer that his talent would indicate. It won’t happen this season.
In one practice last week he dropped four passes from Brady. Now it is one thing for a rookie to drop four passes in
a practice. It is much more serious to drop four passes from Brady, who will freeze a WR out. Luckily that hasn’t happened. Brady seems to understand that he is a rookie and is going to have rookie days.
He also flew downfield
and was being assaulted as he leaped up over the DB and pulled the pass down for the most spectacular catch of the day. He has that knack for making the spectacular play that most guys can’t make and make it look routine. I think he is a Number Two WR.
The most consistent WR in practice has been my guy
Jakobi Meyers. Who I wrote before the practices began that he was the mostly likely Undrafted Rookie Free Agent to make the Pats, in my
2019 AFC East Draft Review Book. He was great at NC ST. I never saw him drop the ball once. He played in the Slot and looked like Edelman only he was 6-2. He was unstoppable in the Slot.
He looked like the best WR in practice. Which makes him the Number Two when Edelman is on the field. Not the most spectacular, but the most consistent. He consistently got open in slot patterns. He caught everything. He knows how to create separation in pattern. He consistently caught passes through contact all week long. He looks like the clear starter as the 3rd WR or the Slot WR. The only reason he is not the Number Two is because Harry is a 1st Round pick.
So, watching the WRs is a huge deal. Brady needs weapons. He cannot do it on his own. Edelman cannot do it on his own and the WR-Corps can no longer lean on Gronk to do his magic. This is it. Meyers and Harry have been the two best WRs in Camp. When you rely on rookies you lose. The challenge of this season is how to win with Two rookie WRs playing major roles in every game. Brady can’t win it all. He can only be as good as his weapons. Yes, he can make them better. But if no one can get open he can’t throw to
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