Jakobi Meyers put on one of the most productive performances ever by a New England Patriots receiver Monday night, catching 12 passes for 169 yards in a 30-27 win over the New York Jets.
Cam Newton wasn’t surprised.
The Patriots quarterback knew Meyers had this potential in him. In fact, he told him as much.
“I had a conversation with (Meyers) a couple weeks ago just saying, ‘Bro, I believe in you. I don’t think you believe enough in you to know that you can play this game at a high level,’ ” Newton said Monday on WEEI’s “Greg Hill Show.”
“And we’ve all seen, when given an opportunity, what he can do. But yet he’s just showing up and proving who and what he can be for this offense and putting this league on notice.”
Meyers, a promising undrafted rookie in 2019 who rarely saw the field during the first month-plus of this season, has been one of New England’s best offensive players since taking over for an injured N’Keal Harry in Week 7.
With Harry sidelined with a concussion and hobbled veteran Julian Edelman on injured reserve, Meyers has been targeted 30 times over the Patriots’ last three games. No teammate has seen more than 15 during that span. He’s caught 22 of those targets for 287 yards. Damiere Byrd is second in both categories with nine catches for 120 yards. No other Patriot has more than 65 total receiving yards over that stretch.
Over the course of his three-week breakout, Meyers ranks tied for fourth in the NFL in receptions (behind Davante Adams, Keenan Allen and Tyler Lockett) and sixth in receiving yards (behind Adams, Travis Kelce, Allen, D.K. Metcalf and Julio Jones).
Meyers also ranks third among all qualified wideouts this season in yards per route run (2.91), according to Pro Football Focus, trailing only Adams and rookie Justin Jefferson rank higher.
Perhaps Meyers’ strong connection with Newton shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, the two have known each other for years, with the latter coaching the former on a 7-on-7 all-star team while Meyers was still in high school.
Newton also said Meyers’ experience as a former quarterback — he transitioned to wideout after his redshirt year at North Carolina State — allows him to find pockets in opposing defenses that other Patriots receivers have struggled to locate this season.
“He’s just been coming up with so many different ways to get open,” Newton said on WEEI. “He’s just such a humble person, and that can be his gift and his curse. I’ve said it before, I’ve known Jakobi since he was 16 years old, and the fact that we’re on the same NFL team — me knowing his family, me knowing his whole role, what happened at North Carolina State and him transitioning positions from quarterback to receiver.
“I know from playing quarterback for so long he has an instinct and a knack to know how to get open — to know what the quarterback is thinking.”
Meyers is just the third player in Patriots history to catch 12-plus passes and record 169 or more receiving yards in a single game. The others? Wes Welker (twice) and Troy Brown.
“I’m just a young guy trying to take advantage of my opportunities,” the 24-year-old said after Monday’s game. “The more they give me, the more I’m going to try to do.”