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#PostPulpit Mailbag: What is Jakobi Meyers’ potential with the Patriots?

Related: Jakobi Meyers celebrates his 24th birthday with a career performance

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

A win! It’s been a long, hard four week for the New England Patriots but they finally have added another W to their record. Within the win, Cam Newton played his second consecutive strong game while showing off an encouraging connection with the former undrafted free agent Jakobi Meyers.

Meyers, who was celebrating his 24th birthday, had a career day — hauling in 12 of 14 targets for 169 yards. He left yards on the field as well, as he had a 9-yard catch called back after being flagged for an illegal shift. Meyers was also later streaking down the field wide open but was overthrown by Newton. It was the third straight promising game for the second-year pro and he firmly has earned his spot on the field, even when/if N’Keal Harry and Julian Edelman return from injury.

So what is Meyers’ role with the team for the future? Is he a No. 1 option or if not, what talent should New England bring in around him? And of course, who will be throwing him the football going forward? Well I'm glad you asked, because we’re answering all that and more in this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. Let’s go:

@gowotweets Is there another injury that hasn’t been disclosed about Cam? For the last few weeks, it looks like his mechanics have been off when throwing. The ball doesn’t come out super crisp. Curious if you’ve noted this.

One of Cam’s biggest problems throughout his career when throwing the ball has been his footwork. Correcting his footwork was a big priority when he signed in New England, and it certainly has improved. However, there are times when he falls back into his old habits and throws with his feet horizontal (one example below), which causes him to miss open targets. The reason for me not believing he is not hurt is because they are still using him in the run game. Newton has 19 total carries the last two weeks, not something that would likely happen if he was severely banged up. In his two games last with Carolina when he was playing hurt, he ran the ball just five total times.

@VicariouslyP Would you elevate Jakobi Meyers to a number one or is he still a two/three receiver with inflated stats versus the number 29 ranked passing defense? #PostPulpit

Meyers has been playing great lately and I would not say he has “inflated stats” versus poor pass defenses. He is not the most athletically gifted receiver, but has been great at creating separation the last three weeks while lining up all over the field. He’s no fluke, but I still believe he’d be best as a second or third option on a team moving forward. He certainly can be the Patriots next great possession receiver, but some more talent around him would really open things up for him even more.

@UnfilteredPats Which addition at WR will make some spark moving forward?

So what talent should be placed around Meyers? There are no major moves to be made this season, so the answer that jumps out to me in the upcoming offseason is Allen Robinson. Robinson is a top-10 receiver in the NFL and would be the true No. 1 option the Patriots have been lacking on offense for several years now. He’s perhaps the best contested catcher in the league while his drop rate is one of the lowest. Robinson will cost top dollar this offseason, but the Patriots will certainly have the money available to them. And with their history of drafting wideouts, they might decide it’s best to splurge at the position in the offseason.

Along with Robinson, I would love for the Patriots to make a run at Carolina’s Curtis Samuel. Samuel is one of the fastest receivers in the league (4.31 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Combine), something the New England offense certainly needs. The past few weeks, Carolina has lined him up all over the field, including the backfield, providing a versatile weapon for Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels to use. And for the separation crowd — Samuel ranks near the top of the league with 3.5 yards of average separation. His production of late might have increased his free agency price this offseason, but his next contract will not break the bank. A top three receiving core of Robinson, Samuel, and Meyers would have Patriots fans very excited.

@NicolasZaurin Hi, do you think the lack of production from N’Keal comes from the playcalling, and the coaches who don’t use him to the best of his abilities ? Why so much difference with Jakobi ?

Regarding N’Keal Harry’s struggles, he was simply never really a fit for New England’s offense. Coming out of college, he was known for his size and jump ball ability while his ability to separate and his route tree was limited. Throughout his 13 career games, the Patriots seemingly haven't maximized his strengths and have tried to manufacture him touches in other areas. That is certainly fine to do on occasion, but it’s not the best way to use Harry consistently. Now, he has only played 13 career games, so perhaps something changes or clicks going forward — we’ll just have to wait and see. In the limited occurrences when they do let him go up and make plays, he succeeds. The talent is certainly there, it’s about maximizing his strengths going forward.

@DaniEMT7676 It looks like Cam is back to having fun out there. Was this the kind of game he needed or would a blowout victory be more satisfying?

Winning is fun and Cam certainly seemed to be having fun out there. I mean, just look at that smile...

NFL: New England Patriots at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It was certainly another strong performance from Newton, who was highly efficient completing 27-of-35 pass attempts. It was also the first game in which he did not turn the ball over since Week 1. So yes, Cam seemed to be having fun. And as for winning a close game compared to a blowout, Newton discussed that Tuesday morning on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show:

“Games like we’ve been in this year, as a team if you can manage to win those games, or find ways to win, it builds character, and it build team chemistry, and it builds team confidence,” Newton said. “Winning 30-8, 30-10, those are great wins, but when you get the 21’s-24’s, you start realizing we can find a way to win. Unfortunately this year, we haven't been able to find ways to win the close games. ... This is going to come up again and got to have a situation where instead of guys being more tense in close games, we’re able to still stay relaxed and be able to find ways to win because we’ve been in these situations so many times this year.”

@Cmoney52 With the acquisition of Logan Thomas and Isiah Ford how long before we see them on the field producing. I am tired of watching Gunner and Izzo out there doing nothing.

If all things go well with these players regarding Covid-19 guidelines, I would not be surprised if they see the field sooner rather than later. It’s rare for a Patriots’ skill player to join the team midway through the season and make a huge impact, but this could be an unusual case. Regarding Jordan Thomas, they need any help they can get at the tight end position. With both Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene on injured reserve and Ryan Izzo battling a hamstring injury, Thomas is the only healthy tight end on the roster. His 22 career receptions also make him the most experienced tight end on the roster, so if he shows enough in practice this week, he could have a limited role to begin.

As for Isaiah Ford , I also wouldn't be surprised to see him make an impactful appearance right away. Coming from Miami, Ford has experience with the Patriots offensive system playing under Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea last year. When giving playing time at the end of the season, Ford impressed in the system, posting 21 catches for 235 yards over the Dolphins’ last four games of the season — which included a seven-catch, 54-yard Week 17 performance against the Patriots.

@eshepard681 Do you think cam leaves after this year?

I have no idea what Cam plans to do, but I would offer to bring him back if I was New England. Newton was playing excellent football before being diagnosed with Covid-19 and after a few stinkers following the positive test, he’s been playing great football the past two weeks. Even if New England plans to aggressively pursue a quarterback in this year’s draft class, they most likely won't be ready to start right away. If Newton is brought back, he certainly can put New England in a position to succeed, especially with better skill players at his disposal.

I wrote more about the idea of bringing Newton back here.

@VicariouslyP How good is the Patriots passing game (QBs & Pass Catchers)? They look great versus the number 29 and 32 pass defenses but not so good against everyone else. #PostPulpit

The Patriots clearly lack top of the line weapons on offense, but their passing game has been solid this season. In fact, the best recipe for their success is to pass the ball more. Their unaggressive play calling in the first half has gotten them off to slow starts (they scored their first first-quarter touchdown of the season last week) and ultimately have hurt them this year.

On the season, New England has scored four first-half touchdowns compared to 12 second-half touchdowns. Why such a difference? Well, they pass the ball more in the second half. In the first half of play this season, New England’s 47 percent pass rate is dead last in the league. As they start to score more points in the second half, that number jumps to 52 percent. They are also much more aggressive throwing the ball on first down in the second half, as their pass percentage on first down jumps from 36 percent in the first half to 53 percent in the second. So, while the Patriots’ passing game certainly lacks elite talent, they should lean on it more as it helps them win games.

Let’s go fast:

@ClarkPatfan13 Why do the receivers run sideways after they catch the ball? We missed so many 1st down opportunities because they ran sideways not forward??

This was something I noticed with Jakobi Meyers specifically on Monday night. Meyers might never be an elite yards after catch receiver due to his limited athleticism, but his technique here can definitely improve. Hopefully he can get some pointers from Julian Edelman or Troy Brown to clean things up.

@grokakathegreat Does Meyers have the physical ability/potential to become a real WR1 and deep threat?

As we’ve said, Meyers lacks elite physical tools, but he’s proven to be a good wide receiver despite that. On Monday night, he was successful no matter where he lined up or what defense he went against. Meyers caught all seven of his targets for 101 yards while also drawing a holding penalty against man coverage, while hauling in five of seven targets for 68 yards against zone. And again for the separation crowd, he averaged 4.08 yards of separation Monday night, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. I still would view him more as a WR2/3 for the long-term, but he’s easily playing like the Patriots’ best skill player right now.

@mjlip07 Do we have a chance at the playoffs realistically And is it worth it to if we’ll lose in the first round or instead tank and get a good pick?

In regards to tanking, I'll reiterate what Cam Newton said on Tuesday: “Hell no”. Even if it might be more beneficial in the long run, the Patriots will not tank for a better draft pick. As for making the playoffs, they currently have a 12 percent chance, according to FiveThirtyEight.

There’s a path, but it probably is not the most realistic. At 3-5, the Patriots would have to most likely win out or lose only one more game this season. Their schedule also does not make things any easier, as they have matchups with Baltimore, Arizona, both Los Angeles teams, Miami, and Buffalo remaining. I’d bet against it.

@Bubben15 is cam going to be/good enough to be the quarterback of the future?

Yes. Cam has been very good the past two weeks and if he continues to build on this success, he certainly can be viewed as the QB of the foreseeable future. Bringing Newton back and adding a few weapons with all the money the Patriots will have this offseason would be a recipe for success for the 2021 New England Patriots.

That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!