FOXBORO, Mass. — Don’t get us wrong: Tom Brady still doesn’t sound like he’s jumping joy about what he has in Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski.
But finally, after weeks of doing all but outright complaining about having to work with the Patriots rookie receivers, Brady sounds encouraged by the youngsters — as well he should.
Meyers (four catches for 54 yards) and Olszewski (two catches, including the first of his career, for 34 yards) made by far their biggest contributes of the season in the New England Patriots’ wild victory Thursday night over the New York Giants. Sure, their increased usages largely were born out of desperation — Phillip Dorsett missed the game with a hamstring injury, Josh Gordon exited after twisting his knee and nearly the entire second half was played with the same personnel grouping — but they were nonetheless positive developments for an offense that needs receiving help.
After the game, Brady (perhaps reluctantly) at last gave the rookies some props.
“For sure, I hope so,” Brady said when asked whether the performances of Meyers and Olszewski will pay dividends down the road. “They made some really good plays, I’m happy with what they did. That was great contributions and I’m real happy for those guys.”
Brady, when asked how well Olszewski and Meyers are picking up the offense, added: “They’re working hard at it. I appreciate all their efforts. You know, when you’re a young player — I always say when I was young, I was trying to be on time and not forget my playbook anywhere — these guys are in a different role than that. They’re playing in games and contributing.
“I’m happy for those guys coming in and helping us win a game. That’s what we needed. … It was just good for those guys to catch some balls and gain some confidence.”
Again, not exactly a ringing endorsement from Brady. But it’s a sign that maybe — just maybe — the 42-year-old quarterback is softening and moving on after spending the last few weeks moping around, clearly frustrated by the release of Antonio Brown.
Still, Brady is far from satisfied with the current state of the offense, and it’s easy to understand why. Injuries or no injuries, the entire unit has looked out of sync for much of the season, and that again was the case Thursday as the Patriots struggled to move the ball against a Giants defense that really isn’t very good. Brady posted a solid stat line (he completed 31 of 41 passes for 334 yards and rushed for two scores) but he threw a bad interception, took three sacks and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
As for the running game, it once again looked somewhere between pedestrian and flat-out bad, despite Brandon Bolden rushing for a score and Sony Michel racking up 86 yards. Throw out the stats; the Patriots offense looked as bleh this game as it has in every game since Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins.
So, how does Brady feel about the offense through six weeks?
“Uh,” Brady said, with a lengthy pause and shoulder shrug before saying, “We’ll see. We’re 6-0, try to get to 7-0.”
You’d hardly know he plays for a 6-0 team that owns what might be one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.
Call it frustration, a continuation of the post-Brown grumpiness or a subtle plea for the Patriots to add another receiver before the Oct. 29 trade deadline. In any event, it’s obvious Brady isn’t happy with the offense. Maybe he’s just waiting to see if N’Keal Harry can come off injured reserve and offer anything, but given Brady’s notoriously cold shoulder with young, inexperienced wideouts, who knows.
Then again, maybe Brady’s tacit approval of Olszewski and Meyers is the small step forward he and the offense desperately need. And even if it’s not, it at least was refreshing to hear him acknowledge their existence for once.