Want to be accepted into the New England Patriots’ wide receiver corps? Better study up.
Eric Decker became the latest Patriots wideout to “drop out” when he announced his retirement Sunday after less than a month with the team. He joins several receivers who failed to make the cut this offseason — including veterans Jordan Matthews and Kenny Britt and second-year pass-catcher Malcolm Mitchell — and a host of notable names who couldn’t latch on with quarterback Tom Brady over the years.
During an interview with WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan” on Monday morning — before he cut it short, that is — Brady touched on the widely held notion that being a receiver in Foxboro is quite difficult.
“I would say receiver is a challenging position in our offense,” Brady told WEEI. “We have a very graduate-level type of offense, and it takes a lot to learn. It’s just not easy. Not easy for rookies, not easy for veterans. It’s a lot of work. It’s time-consuming.
“If we’re going to be effective on offense, we’ve got to have a lot of people out there that can process information quickly and make adjustments and everything changes week to week. Everything’s a big adjustment, and guys who handle it and compete and have the skills do a good job, and that’s typically guys who — we’ve had a few over the years — that can pick it up and understand it.”
Many veteran receivers have thrived under Brady over the years after joining New England, from Randy Moss and Wes Welker to Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola. Yet training camp and the preseason are hard courses to pass in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ system, which typically relies heavily on option routes and requires receivers to be on the same page with Brady at all times.
“Josh is a very intense coach, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” Brady added. “It’s not going to work for everybody. I mean, that’s just the nature of the NFL. There’s a lot of offenses I could go into that I wouldn’t work at very well. But that’s the way it is.”
Decker’s retirement leaves the Patriots’ 2018 class relatively thin: After Julian Edelman, who is suspended for the team’s first four games, New England has Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarelle Patterson, Devin Lucien, Riley McCarron, Braxton Berrios and Paul Turner on its wideout depth chart.
“We had, certainly to start camp, depth, and we just — certain things haven’t worked out the way that we had hoped and certain players would have hoped. But that’s football,” Brady said.
“… I don’t think anyone feels sorry for the New England Patriots, I’ve said that before. So, we’ll just try to do the best we can do, and hopefully it’s good enough.”
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images