Last week, all three of my readers probably didn’t notice that there was no Game Ball awarded. After the massive stinker the Patriots left on the field against the 49ers, no one deserved any awards. Except maybe the Gillette Stadium left upright that blocked a San Francisco field goal. That was the most defense on the field all game. Watching Tom Brady pass Drew Brees for a career touchdown record just made everything hurt more. (We miss you, Tom. Please come back.)
But these are the New England Patriots. They thrive on adversity. If no one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills, then no one bounces back like the New England Patriots. They had a full week of practice, didn’t have to travel on game day, and according to Las Vegas, the odds were against them. This team was “On to Buffalo.”Even though a loss seemed likely, it felt like the Patriots could make this a trap game for the Bills. Until the final injury report came out.
With Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry missing from the offense, the Patriots started the game with four total wide receivers. The defense also took a hit with Stephon Gilmore and Kyle Dugger out as well. Although Edelman’s knee injury limited his production, the offense is never the same without him. Harry has not made the second-year leap everyone expected, but his absence still left the team without depth. Optimism changed to resignation faster than a Josh McDaniels screen getting blown up on third down.
It was a pleasant surprise that the Patriots made it a winnable game for 58 minutes and 30 seconds. The biggest reason for that was Jakobi Meyers. With Edelman and Harry out, the second-year receiver stepped up and grabbed week eight’s Game Ball like he snagged the passes thrown his way. Even though 6 receptions for 58 yards doesn’t seem like much, his receptions always seemed to come at the best times to provide a spark to the offense. He consistently created enough separation to draw 10 targets from Cam Newton and showed that he has chemistry with his new quarterback.
Despite having just one target in the first three games of the season, Meyers averages 11.36 yards per catch on 11 receptions. In those three weeks, he never played more than 11% of the offensive snaps. Against the 49ers, he was one of the few players that generated any offense. He was also on the field for 79% of offensive snaps.
In an underachieving receiving corps, on a disappointing offense, Meyers has been extremely consistent. With a catch percentage of 64.7% and 125 yards, he has done more with his limited playing time than anyone else. Even though Bill Belichick does not have a great record with selecting receivers, he struck gold on an undrafted free agent. If the Patriots want to have any chance at success this season, they will need to rely on Jakobi Meyers.
–Travis Baltes is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @TravisBaltes