Like our fearless leader Bernd says, we try to keep our shenanigans cheeky and fun, as opposed to cruel and tragic:
Not trying to judge how others do their job, but I'm just saying this: we're actively trying to avoid stuff like this at @patspulpit.— Bernd Buchmasser (@BerndBuchmasser) July 31, 2019
Are we perfect when it comes to this? No. But at least we're trying our best not to feed into any unfounded hype or resort to cheap clickbait. https://t.co/bfwW8QfG2Q
Having said that, if you thought the Pats telling Chris Hogan “it’s not you, it’s me” and we’d text him about the ring ceremony would cure 2018’s nasty recurring case of the dropsies, then, well, Wednesday’s day at the office probably wasn’t great if you were following practice obsessively all day (which, really, who doesn’t, right?). Especially for rookie and may-or-may-not-be-the-one-the-prophecy-foretold first-round pick N’Keal Harry.
One of Harry’s drops came after he cleanly beat Gilmore, who almost gave up his first catch of camp. Instead, QBs are 0 of 5 throwing his way in team drills.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) July 31, 2019
N'Keal Harry drops another pass. That's four today.— Andrew Callahan (@_AndrewCallahan) July 31, 2019
A very up and down practice for N’Keal Harry: three drops, lined up wrong once, two circus catches. #Patriots— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) July 31, 2019
Admittedly, not ideal, especially after this offseason when N’Keal got the elusive Tom Brady “NEWS TEAM, ASSEMBLE!” invite to a top-secret location to have a backyard catch.
Turns out, the kid’s not perfect. Who knew, right?
“A big kid that runs well,” Belichick said of Harry. “Good catch radius. Very strong, physical receiver. He has a long way to go ... but he’s gotten better every day and been dependable, durable, tough. ... making good progress.”
And here’s what Harry himself had to say about...himself earlier this week and doing what my dear sweet ma used to call burning the candle at both ends:
“It’s super long. There’s a lot that goes into it. Coaches put a lot into it, making sure that we know what we’re doing when we get out on the field,” he said after Sunday’s practice. “This game of football is something that I truly love and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”
“It’s a big help having (Brady) out there helping me make it through training camp and just helping me clean up my details and make sure we’re on the same page,” Harry said. “Just a lot of technique stuff, a lot of timing stuff. Things that are going to come the more that we’re on the field together.”
And here’s N’Keal on the coaching in Foxboro that’s broken Hall of Famers and rookies alike:
“He’s just teaching me how to be a complete receiver and how to take my game to the next level,” Harry said of (Troy) Brown. “He’s one of the greatest receivers that’s ever played here. I’ve learned a lot from him, and I’m going to keep asking him questions and keep learning from him.”
This is probably the part where you figure I’m just going to tell you some lazy version of “take it easy on the kid, he’s learning, there’s gonna be good days and bad days” and while that all may be true in a vacuum, that’s a limp-wrist take even by my standards, and I’m lazy enough that I meal prep not because it’s healthy, but because cooking every night is too much work.
So instead, let’s check out a few more deets on what it is N’Keal’s actually trying to wrap his brain around in just a few months. From Shalise Manza-Young of Yahoo Sports and formerly the Boston Globe about another wideout with sky-high expectations that you may or may not remember trying to go through a crash course in the Pats offense:
“Receivers have to make pre-snap reads, and if Tom says you’re supposed to go 8 yards and cut, don’t do it 6, and don’t do it 9, he wants you at 8 yards”
And that kid she’s referring to had almost a decade of NFL seasons under his belt, playing against the best defensive backs in the game!
If our offseason film series from Mark Schofield and HP Football have taught you people nothing else, it’s that there’s infinite variables involved in every decision these guys make in this offense, and then assuming you’ve both ID’ed the coverage correctly and are where you’re supposed to be and adjusting your route accordingly, then all you have to do is go out and run it with Edelmanlike precision.
That’s what we’re working on here. In the first week of August.
Meanwhile, in his final season at Arizona State, the Sun Devils switched up their offensive scheme from trying to copy the Bear Raid offense that offensive coordinator Rob Likens rocked at Cal with that Jared Goff kid to a more Herm Edwards-esque power run scheme to at least keep some of their games within striking distance. And now Harry’s had half a summer to learn arguably the most complex, shape-shifting offense in the modern NFL.
Is now an awkward time to point out that what we’re doing right now is literally called “training camp”? Emphasis on the “training” part?
How about that part where we all know the running joke that September is an extended training camp/preseason for the Patriots? If that’s where a Belichick-coached Pats squad usually is by the time the fall beers are almost getting replaced by the winter beers at the store already, where does that put the ‘19 Pats right now?
Fixing mistakes. Working on precision. Mastering situations, like that one up top when N’Keal lined up wrong a couple times. Getting that muscle memory down so you don’t have to *think* about where to be and how to get there and make the catch so much as you just know. Getting on the same page, if you will.
If Bill says we’re making good progress, and god knows he won’t dish out a compliment if someone doesn’t deserve it, chalk the mistakes up now to “Well, if even Brady still gets the business for screwing up in camp, that’s how you stay winning”.