Jakobi Meyers doesn’t have experience or pedigree on his side, but it’s become glaringly obvious over the last two weeks that he’s the New England Patriots’ best wide receiver.
As the Patriots reshuffle their wide receiver group when N’Keal Harry (concussion) and Julian Edelman (knee) return from injuries, Meyers absolutely must stay in the starting lineup.
Meyers was quarterback Cam Newton’s favorite target for the second straight week as he caught six passes on 10 targets for 58 yards Sunday in the Patriots’ 24-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He also had two catches for 31 yards erased by penalties.
That was coming off the heels of Meyers’ Week 7 performance when he caught four passes on six targets for 60 yards in the Patriots’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers as a fill-in.
Somehow, Meyers stays humble through it all and isn’t screaming, “How was I sitting on the bench through the first six weeks of the season?!”
“I try to practice as hard as I can, be alert as I can in meetings, know everybody’s responsibilities so if god forbid we have a guy go down, I can jump in if they need me to,” Meyers said Sunday. “Try to build trust with the coaches every day.”
So, why wasn’t Meyers starting through the first seven weeks of the season? “Just overall football.”
“I had a great receiver in front of me,” Meyers said. “You can’t ignore how good Jules is and N’Keal is. It was really just waiting my turn and not falling backwards and not showing no attitude when I wasn’t playing.”
With how well Meyers has performed in the last two weeks, some attitude would have been understandable but probably not welcomed within the walls of Gillette Stadium.
Meyers now has 10 catches for 118 yards over the last two games and 11 catches for 125 yards on the season. Harry has just 19 catches for 172 yards with a touchdown and Edelman has 21 catches for 315 yards in six games apiece.
The 23-year-old’s versatility should allow him to stay with the starters when all of the receivers are healthy, but there will be an odd-man-out between him, Harry, Edelman and Damiere Byrd.
It should be Harry. But would the Patriots really be willing to bench their 2019 first-round pick for an undrafted free agent in the same rookie class?
Edelman is on injured reserve, so he can’t return before Week 11, which will buy the Patriots more time to make a decision. He always could return in more of a limited role similar to what Danny Amendola previously served in New England. Byrd has played well and should remain with the starters after catching three passes for 39 yards Sunday.
In no way, shape or form should Meyers be relegated back to reserve status.
There would be no excuse to put Meyers on the bench or even in the No. 3 role at this point. The offense is better when he’s involved, and Newton shows more confidence throwing to him than any other wide receiver on the roster.
We’ll see if Patriots head coach Bill Belichick concurs.